Raising Happy Kids

Discipline: Taking Away Toys as Punishment – Should You Do It?

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how to discipline kids
One of the hardest parts of being a parent is disciplining your child.

How can you discipline them in a way that makes them stronger and better because of it?

What will help them to develop leadership qualities and boost their self-confidence instead of tearing them down?

Should you even discipline your kids at all?

Is Discipline Really Necessary?

While I know many disagree, I strongly feel that all kids need discipline as they’re growing up.

However, as the one doing the disciplining, parents have a huge responsibility to make sure it’s done in a manner that helps their kids instead of tearing them down.

There’s an endless debate about the best ways to do this.child discipline

Recently, I read a blog that suggested taking away your kid’s toys as a punishment when they do something wrong.

If your kid has a toy/item they really love or want, you should give it to them. After giving it to them, use that item to motivate them to do the right thing.

If they do something they shouldn’t, take it away until they earn it back.

As I read the blog, I thought it sounded like an interesting idea.

If I hadn’t had prior experience with this particular type of discipline, I probably would have tried it with my own kids.

I come from a big family. Because of this, I’ve had the opportunity to be around young kids my whole life.

I’ve found that when this type of discipline is overused, it can lead to four big consequences for the kids on the receiving end.

1) They Lose their Sense of Security & become Scared to Make a Mistake

As adults, the things that make us feel secure are often our homes, jobs, and families.

However, for young kids, it’s often their belongings that make them feel safe and secure.

Maybe they have an item they’re very attached to like a blanket, stuffed animal, or toy that they love more than any other.

It can be devastating to have those things taken away.

Nobody wants to lose the things they love the most and we’ll often do anything to prevent that loss from happening.

If kids find that the things they love the most are taken away whenever they do something wrong, they become scared to make a mistake. They’re always on edge wondering if the thing they care most about is going to be gone the next day.

This fear of making mistakes stays with them as they grow into adults.

Many of the world’s most successful people have stated that their greatest motivators were their mistakes.

The most valuable lessons they’ve learned in their life were through their mistakes.

If kids grow up too scared to take a chance on anything because they might make a mistake, it’ll inhibit their opportunities for the rest of their life. 

2) It Creates a Sense of Resentment & Distrust in the Kids towards their Parents

DisciplineWhen you repeatedly take away an item your child holds dear, they start to develop a sense of resentment towards you.

A resentment that you’re targeting the items they care about the most anytime they make a mistake.

A resentment that said item/s are frequently held up for ransom.

That resentment quickly grows into distrust.

They stop believing that their parents care for them and have their best interests at heart.

They don’t trust their parents to keep them safe and look to somebody else to hold their trust.

3) Kids Learn to Hide the Things They Care About the Most from their Parents

The kids start to recognize that the things they love/care about the very most are the first things to go when they make a mistake.

Those are the things that are continually held up for ransom.

It’s very likely, in this situation, that kids will start hiding the things they care about the very most from their parents.

How else can they keep said items safe?

They won’t feel safe confiding in their parents about the things they really want and care about. If they do, the next time they make a mistake, it could be gone.

To start with they might just hide favorite toys/items from their parents.

However, as they get older, they’ll hide their feelings, their wants, and everything that means anything to them. 

4) Kids Lose their Motivation to Work Towards Any Goal

A great way to motivate your kids to do something is by giving them an opportunity to earn something they really want.

Maybe your son/daughter has been asking for a bike, a skateboard, or anything.

It doesn’t matter what they’re asking for.

Use it as an opportunity to teach them to work for the things they want.

You can teach them that if they have a dream or something they want in life, there’s always a way to get it properly without taking unethical shortcuts.

If they’re willing to do what it takes to get the thing they want, they can literally have anything.

However, if your kids work towards something, give it all they have, and finally get it, only to have it taken away the next time they make a mistake, they quickly lose their motivation to work towards any dream/goal.

Would you work towards any of your own dreams/goals if you knew that, upon obtaining them, they could be taken away at a moment’s notice?

What Can You Do instead of Taking Away Your Kids Toys?

I’ve found several methods of discipline that work very well with my four boys.

To start with, I look at what they’ve done and come up with a consequence related to the mistake.

I’m careful to keep things as consistent as possible.

I want my kids to trust me and feel safe sharing the things they care about with me. 

Their toys/things they really love are always off limits unless the mistake is specific to that item.

For example, I like my home to be clean. With four kids, you can’t have a clean home unless your kids know how to pick up after themselves.

There’s not enough time in the day to chase after each kid, cleaning up everything they touch.

Recognizing this, I’ve told my kids that if they use something, I expect them to put it away afterward.

If I find any of their things on the floor, it’s mine until they earn it back. They might get one warning, but never more than one, before I take it away.

This is the only time I take away the things that I know my kids really love.

When I do, I’m careful to make sure they know what they need to do to get it back.

Another example is, all four of my boys love to color.

Not surprisingly, every one of them has gone through a phase where they will color on anything and everything they can see. They’ll color on the couch, the walls, their beds, the dressers, or even the floor.

kids color on everything

When this happens, the kid responsible has to help clean up whatever was colored on. They also don’t get to use the crayons or markers for a certain amount of time.

I make sure that during that time, there are several opportunities for the other kids to use the crayons and enjoy them.

As the other kids use them, I explain to the kid in question that I really want him to be able to enjoy coloring with his brothers.

But, it is not ok to color on anything besides a coloring book or papers I’ve given him.

When the time period I’ve set is up, I get the crayons and coloring books out.

Before giving any crayons to the kid who misused them, we sit down together and I explain what happened last time.

I tell them what was wrong with it and why it was wrong. 

Once I’m done explaining what went wrong, I show him the right way to use the crayons.

Sometimes, it just takes one round of this for the kids to understand.  Other times, I have to repeat the consequence over and over.

However long it takes, just make sure you’re consistent!

Consistency will allow you to get through to your kids more than anything else you do.

How to discipline your kids


What types of discipline have you found that have the most positive effect on your kids?

Do you have any questions for me? Let me know by leaving a comment below! I do answer all of them!

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2 thoughts on “Discipline: Taking Away Toys as Punishment – Should You Do It?

  1. Great article! I never thought of it that way, to only take away their toy if it is related to the “crime”. Very insightful.

    1. Thank you 🙂 I’ve noticed it helps my kids a lot to do it that way. They learn to take care of their things and they aren’t always worrying about losing them.

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