It’s Not All Mary Poppins

A Conundrum for You

Here’s the situation:

Child A has created a tunnel of the blocks.

Child B attempts to push a block through said tunnel. The tunnel collapses.

Child A rebuilds the tunnel.

Child B attempts to push a block through said tunnel. The tunnel collapses.

Child A rebuilds the tunnel.

Child B attempts to — Child A objects. Child B persists. Mary intervenes.

Child B attempts to reassure Child A and Mary: “It’s okay. It was just a accident.”

Mary: You tried to push that block through before. What happened?

Child B: It fell down. But it was a accident.

Mary: And if you try to push that block through again, what will probably happen?

Child B: It will fall down, prolly. But that’s okay, because it was just a accident.

So here’s the question, ladies and gentlemen:

If you’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again, and the results will probably be the same every time, but you don’t INTEND that result – it is deliberate, or an accident?

May 29, 2006 - Posted by | behavioural stuff, controversy, quirks and quirkiness


  1. ah. I think child b is just not really thinking, so he still considers it an accident, although I myself would not. So I would want to ask him to stop and think about the consequences first, and then because he has to make a decision, point out that that makes it no longer an accident.

    Comment by kittenpie | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  2. This applies to adults, not to little kids, but insanity consists of repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.

    Child b. doesn’t know that yet.

    What kittenpie said and what I’m sure you’ve already done.

    Comment by Granny | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  3. I went through this with my boys last week. I explained to my 5 year old, the first time was an accident. The second time was probably an accident; perhaps attempting a slightly different manuever. Now I say No. Child A worked hard and was willing twice over, he has the right to defend his creation. If Child B wants to try again he can make his own tunnel. Child B may not understand the consequences of the action but kittenpie and granny are right. 3rd time around is no accident, it is foolishness at the expense of Child A.

    Comment by twoboysmom | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  4. My parenting professor would argue that they are all accidents and not look at undesirable behaviour as mistaken (meaning they have to learn), not misbehaviour (which implies deliberate actions). This is the kind of situation in which I wanted to argue the opposite. These children are 4 (or close anyways, right?) Meaning, they are not 1 or 2 and really learning that the block is too big. I say that it is deliberate after the 3rd try (and I finished with an A in a class that attempted to teach me otherwise).

    Comment by Angela | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  5. Well…probably not purposeful stupidity.

    I always wondered if I was going to have to tell my oldest daughter on her wedding day:
    Go down the aisle.
    Go DOWN the aisle.

    Repetition. Sometimes it just takes gentle reminders over and over and over. The patience of mothers: Sainthood.

    Comment by Anonymous | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  6. This is why history keeps repeating itself.

    Comment by L. | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  7. I’m sure he thought that since there was no malice intended, that it would be okay.
    A hard lesson to learn… but necessary.

    Comment by KEP | May 29, 2006 | Reply

  8. It’s a learning experience?

    Comment by Andie D. | May 30, 2006 | Reply

  9. Kittenpie: That was what came next, indeed. “So you know that if you push it through, it will fall down. When you know that, it isn’t an accident any more. It will make Child A sad if you do. What do you think you should do?”

    Granny: You were right!

    Twoboysmom: I agree entirely. In fact, I suspect in this case the insistence on the accidental nature of the event may have been wilfull: If it’s an accident, you’re not to blame!

    Angela: I would have to respectfully disagree with your parenting professor. While I think it’s important that we give our kids the benefit of the doubt, something that is repeated like this, and the likely results understood? If you don’t think this child can know it’s within his control, you’re underestimating him to a degree that’s an insult!

    Anonymous: LOL I can see this child’s parents having the exact same worries in the same situation. “Stand at the front and wait.” “STAND at the front and WAIT.”

    L: Because human nature is human nature.

    kep: He’s an accident-prone kid (not because of physical clumsiness, but because of impulsivity), and has clearly been taught in his loving and supportive home that “It’s okay. It was just an accident. Accidents happen.” (I know because he says this all the time.) However, he applies the concept a little too generously bytimes! LOL

    AndieD: I live in hope…

    Comment by Mary P. | May 30, 2006 | Reply

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