Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Kirstie Allsopp's Confession - Would You Smash your Child's iPad?

Kirstie Allsopp admitted today that she smashed her children's ipads to teach them a lesson. I don't want to pass judgement on any parent, since we are all doing a very difficult job and we should be supporting each other, not taking the moral high ground. I also don't agree with trolling and bashing people publicly, especially over what is essentially a difference of  opinion. I hope this post will be viewed more as constructive criticism, or alternative parenting advice. Kirstie, I'm sure you're a great mum, and you must parent how you see fit, but I can't agree with you and so here are all the reasons not to start vandalising anyone's belongings today.

When this incident was first related on Jeremy Vine, many parents commented on the needless waste of money that smashing the ipads caused. Kirstie replied saying that it wasn't about the money. Presumably, she earns a good wage, she works hard and has every right to spend it as she wants. Her estimated value of the ipads (£70) may not be a lot to her, but even if it was £7, the point is, the message you are giving is that the value of something doesn't matter, if you have a point to make. It does matter though. The value of something always matters, whether it's a lot, a little, or even sentimental, telling your child that's it's ok to smash something because you can afford to replace it is wrong. The following comparison to cigarettes is also ridiculous, because cigarettes have no intrinsic value, there would be no benefit to giving them to anyone else, or donating them to charity. Unless you happened to know a smoker, I suppose, but even, then, you're not really doing them a favour. Also, you want to illustrate to your children that smoking is wrong altogether, so you throw away the cigarettes, because they are harmful. In the case of the ipads, this wasn't the message. The message was that they should have stuck to the time limit and not disobeyed instructions. By making the punishment so final, you are showing them that you don't believe they can improve and you are not giving them an opportunity to do better and prove you, and themselves, wrong. 

You give your children a gift, you presumably (hopefully) encourage them to look after it and treasure it. They see it as their precious possession. Then, something doesn't work out how you would like it to, so you take their possession and smash it. In many ways, children are small adults, they have the same thoughts and feelings as we do, just not necessarily as emotionally developed. This means that having something they love smashed in front of them hurts, it's emotionally damaging.  So, here's the obvious question that you've been waiting for: How would you feel if this happened to you? You're at work, say, and you do something really silly, maybe you've had a rough night, you've got a bit of a cold, and you cut a corner, or don't do something by the book, because you really just want to go home. You know it's wrong, but it won't hurt this once, no one will notice. Only your boss does notice, and you've done it before, that time you were hung over, and frankly, you're proving to be a terrible employee, so your boss decides to start a disciplinary procedure. She goes outside and smashes your car windscreen. But that's ok, because you were told before and you knew it was wrong. And you can afford to replace it, so it's not a problem, right? Except it is. I have witnessed someone smashing things in anger and it's horrible. It made me feel intimidated, uncomfortable, stressed, and I'm an adult. Even if she broke the ipads calmly, as she suggested, this extreme reaction must have been born out of anger, and her children may have felt all those feelings that I felt, which is no way to discipline someone. I feel you should discipline a child because you want them to learn and improve, not because you want to hurt them or make them feel bad. They may be upset because you've punished them, but that is not the same as punishing them by making them upset. 

This brings me to my next point. Smashing something as a way to solve a problem. One of the reasons this situation occurred, was because Kirstie wanted an end to the debate. I suffer Fortnite daily, I understand the frustration with the noise and the high-energy gaming, there is definitely a need to keep control of screentime, but there are better ways to resolve an issue. Conflict resolution is a tough lesson for children to learn. They start off in life completely selfish, they have no idea that other people also have needs and they have no idea how to share, or how to make their point without getting angry. These are skills we have to teach them, like how to come to an understanding with someone else, how to listen, how to negotiate. As it happens, I don't believe parents always need to negotiate, sometimes 'because I said so', is sufficient and downright necessary, but when you use aggression to solve a problem (even if you smash something calmly, it's still an aggressive act), that is what you are telling your children to do next time they want a resolution. Little brother isn't playing the game how big sister wants? isn't following the agreed rules? Let's hope she doesn't aim for the head when she resolves that argument! 

I believe parents should parent how they feel is right. Your instinct is your most valuable tool, when it comes to raising your children and that is down to you. It's worth remembering, though, that we can't expect our children to develop the values and behaviour that we want, when we don't demonstrate it ourselves. When you become a parent, your children instantly look up to you. You are the first and most constant adult figure in their lives and your behaviour is what they see as normal as they grow up. If you are a shouty parent, you are most likely to end up with shouty children. If you are a picky eater, you may find it harder to get your children to try new things. You see where I'm going with this? If you smash something up, to punish someone, or as a way to solve a problem, don't be at all surprised if you find your children doing exactly the same thing. The cost of the item won't matter when it belongs to another child, or maybe to their school, you will still have a lot of explaining and apologising to do. 

I wasn't the only one with an opinion on this subject, so here are some thoughts from other parent bloggers. If you've got a point of view, whether you agree or not, we welcome your comments too.

Steph, from My Two GirlsNot heard this. My first thought is, what lesson is she actually hoping to teach them? That it’s OK to break someone else’s property, or even your own, because you are having a disagreement?!

Jaymee, from The Mum DiariesI don't see how smashing her children's belongings have taught them anything other than it's okay. I also think if she didnt have the money to replace them so easily would she have resorted to that?

Amy, from Amy TreasureTeaching children smashing property that probably costs close to £500 because they spend too much time on screens is ridiculous. You can't go around smashing possessions up and having a hissy fit! That is not a good example to set.

Lauren, from Scrapbook BlogI think she's daft: a) incredibly wasteful b) is it right to teach your kids it is okay to break something? c) now she'll have to entertain the little darlings herself!

Katie, from Mami to FiveWhat a waste of money and so much waste in general! I don’t know what lesson she was trying to teach, but surely making the kids donate them to needier people would have been a far better one.

Kate, from Hitchen's KitchenWouldn't it have been better to donate them to a good cause and teach them about compassion instead? Or get a timer and limit their use? 

Carolin, from Mummy AlarmI think if your kids disrespect you and your rules to an extent that makes you break their possessions (expensive ones too but that's not the point) you should probably take a good look at yourself and enrol in a parenting class. I find her reaction absolutely horrible and just as disrespectful as her kids' behaviour. That said, she's a grown-up who should know better than her kids. To me, it's lazy parenting. It's like she destroyed the gadgets to make the issue go away when, in fact, it won't! 

Alice, from Living with a JudeShowing your children that smashing something up when you don't get your own way is ridiculous. Next time her children destroy something in a temper tantrum she can only blame herself.

Tayla, from Motherhood the Real Deal: I don’t think this is teaching a very good lesson - it is teaching destruction, anger, waste and spitefulness. A better lesson would to be to have taken away their screen time privileges until they had earned them back with good behaviour.

Sophie, from Mama Mei: I very much believe in gentle parenting so this is not how I personally would handle a situation. Also it's a fortunate position to be in, to be able to afford iPads and it is so sad that people forget how lucky they are - at least donate them to charity or give to someone else.

Chloe, from Sorry About the MessIf she was going to admit to something so wasteful, it would have been nice if she had also acknowledged / checked her own privilege in the process - I think that’s the thing that gets to me the most about this Kirstie saga.

Lara, from Adventures of a MumI would have taken them - with the children in tow, to the charity shop or to the children's hospital to teach them that there are children without such luxury items that deserve them more than her children did for whatever reason she deemed to be so. That way they realise the value of the iPad rather than showing them that it is worthless and can be smashed (and then likely to be replaced)

Jacinta, from Jacintaz 3I think it’s just not on displaying such behaviour. It’s violence in a way and what I’d really like to know is how soon after the kids had new ones?

Top and bottom photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash


  1. I agree with you and the other bloggers. What real lessons is she teaching her children. If our son misbehaves he is dealt with in a way he learns consequences, even if a bigger tantrum ensues. Its better they learn this way than in a, wasteful, disrespectful way.

  2. I was really surprised when I heard this to be honest and wondered if she was just saying it to get a reaction - ie did she really do it, I wonder? Each to their own as to how they choose to bring their children up - maybe she believes her children will love her for it in later life, and maybe they will. Who knows. The part that gets to me most is that some other child/charity who are not so fortunate could have made good use of an iPad. Needless waste, sad.

  3. I agree with Amy Treasure, smashing property is not a good example to set and probably a lot worse than the reason she did it!

  4. I won't dream of smashing my kids iPads. That sounds like she lost control. I would take away the iPad for sometime to punish them rather than smash it. Makes no sense why she would rather smash.

  5. I like Kirstie Allsopp but don't condone this behaviour. In my opinion, she should limit the time the kids spent on the ipads - there is so much control us parents can have over these things these days

  6. Smash a childs Ipad - no way! They cost so much and this is not the best example and lesson to set x

  7. I'm not sure what I make of this. I've certainly made some parenting mistakes, but Kirstie isn't claiming this is a mistake. I think there were other ways to get the message across


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