Tween Did Cinnamon Challenge.... Ugh

Updated on July 30, 2013
C.. asks from Columbia, MO
30 answers

Ok - so my normally well-behaved, low-risk, A-student got some sort of wild hair last night and did the cinnamon challenge while she had a friend sleeping over. They are still sleeping so I haven't talked to either one yet. My husband went into the kitchen at like 3am.... and found cinnamon on the sink. They were still up, so he told them to go to bed and we would talk tomorrow.

The thing is we've TALKED about this stupid challenge and the effects. One of the boys at her school posted his near-suffocation experience on his facebook (which she does not have.... we accessed it from our facebook because his profile is not private) and we talked about how stupid it is. She even said - "what an idiot".

I'm wanting to love and logic this one. That's not true. I WANT to go drag her out of bed and have her watch 24 hours of video on lung damage and what a severe asthma attack looks and feels like and THEN have her write "I was stupid to do the cinnamon challenge" 1,000,000 times.


So, as I said, I'm wanting to love and logic this one.

Her birthday is next week. She had planned to have the same friend sleep over... low key but with a special dinner. I'm thinking she can still have the friend sleep over, because it's her 13th birthday.... but now they have to be supervised "Because I just can't trust them to make good decisions, so you'll have to go to bed when I go to bed". And that will be from now on. Every. Night. Until I can trust her again.

I could take away the sleepover. But I'm thinking the "you can't stay up later than me now" is the better way to go.


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So What Happened?

Yes, when my husband went into the kitchen he saw the cinnamon and asked about it and they said they had done the challenge. that's when he told them to go to bed.

It gets better. They had posted to their instagrams.... not ONLY did they do the cinnamon challenge but they did the salt and ice challenge as well.

When I talked to my daughter she said "well, we only used a little bit of salt and ice... not like those idiots on youtube that used a bunch". I asked her if she wouldn't get pregnant if there was only a "little bit" of sperm... She seemed to at least get THAT point.


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answers from Cleveland on

I'm sorry because it really sucks that you have to be the bad guy but I would NOT allow her to have another sleepover for a while and that means her birthday plans too. movie or what ever fine, cake and icecream fine, Sleepover NO way! she lost that priveledge, she can definitely have another one next year but if you don't nip this idiotic stuff in the bud now, what do you think she will be trying at 16. even though you told her not to.

no more istagram either.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

My 16yo did it and posted the video on fb. My Dad was a Pediatrician and saw it and just asked her - how was she feeling and she said it was horrible and wouldn't do it again. Lesson learned.

I went and just made her clean it up and not punish her - this really is not something that I would make a big deal about it and I would certainly not take away her Bday celebration.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

This was a very serious action on her part, which requires a very serious consequence. At a minimum, no sleepover, despite it being her birthday. The fact that you talked about it beforehand, to me, makes it an even bigger infraction: she knew she was doing something dangerous AND disobeying you. My thought would be to take away sleepovers for a long time, until "you can trust them to make good decisions."

6 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Diego on

My now 9 year old accidently did this a few years ago. He decided to make his own cinnamon toast. He seemed to have forgotten the sugar part or didn't put much on and dumped a bunch of cinnamon on the toast. He went to take a bite and had this horrible reaction to the cinnamon like you see in the videos. We thought we were going to have to call 911 as we're putting saline in his nose to rinse it out, getting water to flush out his mouth as he's struggling to breathe and throwing up. It was one of the scariest things I have ever had to deal with with my kids!! I thought he was going to die!
I would have sent everyone home right then and there. Don't care what time it is. Everyone would go home. All posts to social media would be deleted and they'd loose computer/phone privileges. Overnight sleepovers would be done for some time. I would let the parents know as well. This is not one of those things to tip toe around. This is a life or death stupid choice.
Now I want to go look up the salt and ice challenge as I've never heard of that. Thankfully my kids don't do stupid things like this and my boys remember vividly what happened with the cinnamon accident and know not to do that ever again. They've not made cinnamon/sugar toast themselves since LOL

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

None of us is as stupid as all of us.

Also a great learning tool... WHY didn't the Germans just, why didn't the people just, why blah blah blah. Mob mentality. In microcosm. The classic "If all your friends jumped off a bridge" lesson. Grind it in young. And the next time you hear "Why didn't they just..." You bring up thinking the cinnamon challenge was stupid by yourself, but then you did WHAT as soon as you got around friends doing it??? Right.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

So did you all confirm that is what they were doing last night? Did you ask them how it went, what was it like, was it worth it? Then let them know that danger they were in while doing that.. My mom used to ask so many questions, I began to feel foolish for my stupid actions.. Having to verbally explain it out loud,. Humiliating. Ask her if she understands what the consequences could have been..

Then tell them you are very disappointed and they have lost your trust for a long time, so not to expect as many freedoms or approval for things as before. Is she going to be in 6th or 7th grade? There are football games, dances, school carnivals, trips.. maybe you will need to really give her a harder time of proving she can behave at these events when she asks.. When theses things come up remind her of this breech of conduct.

This is a learning moment for all of you. It is showing them they cannot get away with this stuff.. and you now know your daughter is still a child and needs guidance for a while longer.

The natural consequence will be that maybe she cannot go to the mall or the movies alone with friends. Maybe you need to tag along? Maybe you will need to have her and her friend actually go to bed, when you go to bed and not have them alone anywhere but her room for a while.

Hang in there. I know this is disappointing and scary, but she is going to learn tat mom and dad always find out what goes on.. She will get it together.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

You can take her to dinner. But the sleepover is out. She blew it. Let her prove that she's responsible. Why would you NOT take the sleepover away? Just because it's her birthday is not a good reason. SHE knew her birthday was coming up and she still decided to do something you ALREADY discussed as dangerous. Natural consequences. She did something irresponsible so she doesn't get to have fun.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with the consequence of losing the sleepover. It's much easier for kids to stay up later than we do.

Do you want to be up until the wee hours, just making sure they are staying in bed? Sounds like you are only punishing yourself. She knew this was a potentially dangerous thing to do, you'd already warned her, yet she did it anyway. Personally, if it were me, I'd also be talking to the parents of the other child, just so there's no chance of misunderstandings about what took place. ("My daughter said she did the cinnamon challenge at your house...") Kids need to be called on their dangerous behavior, so they know the adults are watching and do care.

This isn't one to go 'soft' on. She's lucky she didn't end up in the ER with her friend last night. Don't water down the message. Have her earn your trust back.

ETA: Why are parents allowing their kids to continue to let those posts and videos stay online? This only adds fuel to the fire and perpetuates the idea that "everyone" is doing it.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Woah! Defying you and doing a dangerous thing with this very friend? NO PARTY AND NO SLEEPOVER. For starters. And I'd add a lot more to it. Including some graphic lung lessons for sure. As far as I'm concerned it's like finding a bag and some toxic inhalants in the days of yore.

When tweens find the new self-destructive rush du jour: BOOM maximum penalty for going against you AND acting dangerously. The SWH is disturbing. These girls are already roped in to trying to be cool and obviously not worried about consequences AT ALL from their actions or from their parents and they aren't even 13 yet. So FAR she's a low risk A student....until she did this at age 12 after talking to you about how stupid it is.

My kids would lose whatever phone or gadget they were using for instagram as well. At under 13 she likely didn't pay for the gadget, the roof over her head, or the spices she's eating and burning herself with, and she needs to wake up to reality before later teen years. If you come down like a ton of bricks on this, I think you'll have no further issues if it's the first bonehead maneuver she's ever pulled. But for good measure, I think she needs a job and less time with that friend. I was babysitting and volunteering all the time at that age and my parents (love and logic wasn't invented yet) would have grounded me from that friend outside of school FOR SURE if I couldn't be trusted to behave with her. And I survived high school drug and pregnancy free.

If you just can't bear to let her miss her party, then you can't, that's your choice. But do SOMETHING very major so that she doesn't wiggle away from this as if it was not EXTREMELY serious to you on lots of levels.

To me, logic would be to remove the friend, the party, the late night freedom, and the gadgets used to participate in this on instagram until she earns back some privileges with some hard work and good behavior. You love her and you don't want her blowing her lungs out in attempts to be cool or anything similar to that in the future. Your motives are pure.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

Bleh, not smart but all is fine and I bet it's not a challenge she will try again. That falls under "once was enough". She's a teen, they do stupid things, it's a part of growing up. Now if she was out car surfing that would be different.

Leave some habanero's out on the counter next time and tell them if they feel the need for a dare...there they go, have at it. :)

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I would talk to them and see what THEIR reactions are. Sometimes kids learn more from doing the challenge and the physical ramifications of it. I bet if you talk to them, they probably won't want to do it again, and they may have learn their lesson. I am not saying don't punish them, but, a real conversation may do more for prevention than punishment. I remember as a teen that my parents would tell me not to do something, but until I did it myself and made an educated decision it didn't mean a whole lot.

I realize this isn't the same things as getting pregnant or drinking and driving, but maybe use it as a good conversation starter as to why you didn't want them to do it. And, if you look at the Wikipedia page,, no one has died from it. They did it on Mythbusters and a university campus and Big Brother, so it really has been all over. This seems like a great way to talk about things and peer pressure. Good luck!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

My heart almost just stopped because this kind of stuff is one of my biggest fears as my kids get older. You spend so much time talking to them about not doing stuff like this, and all of the risks involved, and they still do it! Ahhhh!

You're on the right track by telling her that she can't be trusted to make good decisions, but honestly, if it were me, I would cancel the sleepover part of the birthday celebration. I would do the special dinner and a movie or something, and then take the friend home. I would do this IN ADDITION to making her go to bed at the same time as me every night. She needs to have a major consequence to help her remember how serious this is. All may be well this time, but next time she could try the choking game and things might not turn out so well.

And I'd also be talking to the friend's parents. They should know that their daughter was involved in this risky behavior as well.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

I had to google cinnamon challenge...

I believe the love and logic is: if you are doing stupid things during a sleepover then you are no longer trusted to have sleepovers or go to them for a certain amount of time.

Cancel the birthday sleepover...they can get up at anytime during the night and do anything they want once you are asleep and believe me, they probably will...

good luck and hugs to you!!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Tulsa on

I think I'd be the bad guy and she loses slumber party rights for awhile. Maybe losing her 13th birthday will get the idea home that she really needs to think before she acts. I'd still let her do a party, just not an overnight since she seems to make bad decisions when it gets late. I'm going to have to google the salt and ice challenge, I don't have a teenager yet to keep me up to date on all the horrible ideas they think will be "fun." I hope you made her clean up the cinnamon!

ETA: Oh, good grief. After reading the wiki on the salt and ice challenge I am concerned for humanity. Who comes up with this stuff??

5 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

I think you are putting the cart before the horse. So he found cinnamon in the sink, that doesn't mean they actually did the challenge. Have you checked their phones for the video? I would do that before anything else because if they took a stab at it, realized it was stupid long before completed, it would seem the lesson was already learned.

What I am saying is from what you posted here there is no proof they actually did the challenge, only that the means necessary to complete it were acquired. Considering you found cinnamon in the sink it is very possible that was the result of spitting it out and then drinking a lot of water.

Gets as many facts straight as you can before talking to them.
Looking at some of the answers I am reminded of an incident when my third was two years old. It was his birthday party, he was over stimulated and he has autism spectrum. We would not allow him to go outside because no one was out there at the time. In his anger he head butted the door knob. My ex's mom looked at me and said aren't you going to punish him for that! I asked what could I legally do to the child that was worse than what he just did to himself?

She either tried to or swallowed cinnamon! If that didn't teach her it was stupid I don't really think there is anything legal that you can do that will drive the point home!

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answers from Honolulu on

... making her or them sleep when you sleep, is really not a punishment.
At all. They can simply wake up once YOU fall asleep.
And, how will you know if they fell asleep if you fall asleep before them etc.?
And, will you ALL, be sleeping in the same room together so that you know they have fallen asleep and are supervised?
And them being "supervised," is not a punishment either.
If my parents did that to me, it would be a joke.
Why? Because, it is not a punishment.
What is being supervised anyway? You all hanging out in the family room together? Or them being in their bedroom and you are also there, too?

Taking away the sleep over, is, a punishment or consequence.

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answers from San Francisco on

The second your teen and her friends get up this morning, you sit them down and give them a very strong lecture. Have some pictures and graphic information ready, to make them understand how dangerous this is.

I vote for dragging her out of bed and having her watch 24 hours of video on lung damage. There are times for love and logic, and times to tell them they are complete idiots who are playing with fire. This is one of those times. Writing the sentences might not be a bad idea, either.

Have an EXTREMELY STRONG talk with your daughter and her friend this a.m., and inform the friend's mother.

This doesn't mean your daughter's a bad girl, it just means she's a normal teen. There are times to be a little lenient, and times to be really severe. When something can cause major health problems, that's the time to get tough.

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answers from Norfolk on

Although it's possible for one teen to have a few stupid ideas (and act on them), for some reason the rate of stupid ideas increases exponentially when the numbers of teens increases.
And sometimes, 2 good kids who are great separately just seem to bring out the stupid in one another when they are together.
Does the friends parents know about these challenges?
It might be time to bust up this peer group for awhile.
No sleep over.
She might be turning 13 this year but at the rate she's going, her chances of making it to 14 are not as good as you previously thought.
Time to ramp up her activities so she spends more time with more responsible people and has less free time on her hands for stupid challenges.

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answers from Albuquerque on

I'd actually cancel her birthday sleepover. Telling her she has to go to bed when you do is not exactly a punishment; they'll just stay awake and do whatever you want after you fall asleep. And for what it's worth, I'd make her watch a video on lung damage too... at 13 she's old enough to learn what making bad decisions can do to you.

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answers from Boston on

I like your thoughts, here. A conversation (with both?) and then explaining the consequences seems like a smart way to go.

And, yes, you might want to let the other parents know.

Hug, mama! Good for you & your husband for reacting -- but not over-reacting.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Take away the sleepover.... just do a small birthday dinner with the friend, but then the friend has to go home.

There is no guarantee that they WON'T get up later when you are asleep and do stupid stuff again.

You had already talked to her about that kind of stuff, and how stupid it was.... tell her that because she chose to pull such a stunt that her activity will be restricted until you regain your trust in her, especially with that friend in particular.

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answers from Denver on

This terrifies me as well as I have a 13 y.o. I'm guessing that they are already awake and you've dealt with it, but I wanted to say that I'm more concerned about her going forward. You had already talked about not doing this and she did, how will you trust her to not do the next stupid thing. Keep the lines of communication open with her, and find out WHY she wanted to do this despite the warnings, and ask her what HER plan is to make better choices. I'm sure you handled this just fine, you didn't under-react to this serious situation and that is what is most important.

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answers from Houston on

The idea of making her go to bed earlier on her birthday is a logical one. Or, you could give her this article or another one like it and have her write a paper explaining why the cinnamon challenge is a dumb thing to do.

The girl mentioned in the story was doing it for the 4th time and ended up in the hospital with a collapsed lung.

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answers from Salinas on

I don't know, this is just not high on my Mom fear list. My daughter did it at school years ago before she knew that it was even dangerous. To my knowledge the number of kids needing any medical attention is very low, like 30 last year.

I put this in the category of jumping off the big rocks into the river, riding a bike in traffic without a helmet, skateboarding down a huge hill. Not safe things to do either but sometimes part of teenage life and the risky behavior that often goes with it.

I guess with an almost 15 year old in the house I'm thinking about the possibility of her trying really dangerous stuff or engaging in behavior that harms or kills thousands of kids a year.

I'd focus on them sneaking around and being dishonest rather than the act of swallowing cinnamon. Be careful not to burn the bridge of communication at this critical time in your realtionship. If you overreact about the dangers of this stupid dare you may lose a bit of credibilty when it comes to the really scary stuff out there.

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answers from Washington DC on

i think that's a perfect reaction.
i hope she learned.
i'll bet she did.

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answers from Oklahoma City on

I think she knows better for sure. I'd simply tell her what ever punishment she gets is because she made a poor choice and lost your trust. No sleep over. Do you think you should tell the moms exactly why it's not going to be a sleepover? They might not know they should be watching for signs of this challenge when their kids have friends over. Even the same friend....this friend's mom surely needs to know too. She might be doing this everywhere she goes.

Going to bed when you go to bed obviously has NO effect what so ever. You are asleep, she can get up and do what ever she wants, you won't know until morning if at all.

I would get rid of the cinnamon. But if she is going to start making bad choices like this you are going to have to watch her all the time.

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answers from Dover on

As I read your question I have no advice for you except to figure out what you want to do once you are calm. Talk to her and see what she says. Then tell her you have to consider her punishment and will let her know once you have decided. That will allow you to decide on a cooler head AND let her sweat about it.

I have nothing to offer about this particular situation becauce I have no idea what you are talking about (other than what you have all hinted about) so now I have to google it myself.

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answers from Jacksonville on

Ditto Flaming Turnip.

I found cinnamon all around my sink about a year ago. It took me a few minutes to figure out what it actually was (we have very dark granite... so it hides a lot), and how much of it there was. I asked my son what it was doing all over the sink, did he try the cinnamon thing. He admitted he had, and it was awful. We discussed how it was stupid, no point in it, and didn't he feel like an idiot afterwards?
I've talked to him multiple times about using inhalants, the choking game, drugs, etc etc etc... but never thought about cinnamon swallowing. So I'm guessing he didn't think anything bad could happen.

There haven't been any further incidents.

Maybe my kid is the oddball, but he seems to not be interested in doing such things WITH his friends. Sort of the "if it doesn't go well" he doesn't want to be embarrassed factor.
Glad you brought this up, though. I will ask him about the cinnamon thing again and see how a year's time has affected his viewpoint/memory.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

I'm sorry for the stress you are dealing with!

My thought is - it sounds like this is popular in your community right now? Kids at her school are doing it? Then maybe the best way to handle it is to talk to some of the other parents. To try to present a "unified front". If she has access to cinnamon while studying at a friend's house, then what you do at your house won't solve things.

I have no idea how to "fix" this, other than keeping cinnamon in a locked cabinet, along with cold meds and vanilla extract (kids get alcohol from drinking those), and whatever else seems to be the popular "it's-not-always-bad-but-it-can-hurt" item of the moment.



answers from San Francisco on

I'd do both - take away the sleepover but still do the special dinner AND implement a new rule that until further notice, she has to go to bed when you go to bed, even if she has a sleepover guest AND she is now allowed to attend a sleepover until she has earned your trust back. This is serious life and death stuff - she needs to feel the gravity.

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