15 January 2013

The art of efficient confiscation

My latest article on Aussie Mum Network is called "The Art of Efficient Conversation". You can check it out at http://www.aussiemumnetwork.com/the-art-of-efficient-confiscation.html

You may notice that the title is a play on my earlier Aussie Mum Network article. I couldn't help myself.

(article copied below)

Inspired by something I saw on the internet late last year (I wish I could remember exactly where it came from to give it credit), my new year commenced with a new tactic for Missy Moo indiscretions: confiscation of toys.

The new approach commenced this way: at the end of each day, my three-year-old and six-year-old daughters are required to tidy their bedrooms. After I give them an opportunity to check over their rooms, I then go in for inspection. Anything on the floor or bed is confiscated and goes into a cardboard box out of their reach. If they want to reclaim an item, they have to do a task of my choosing.

It worked so well that within a few days, their rooms were tidied almost perfectly. I then decided to apply the same tactic to behaviour, in the hope that tantrums would not escalate because of to-ing and fro-ing, that it would create discrete end to the situation. Toy gone, story over.  And so it began with the promise that the toy can be earned back with good behaviour over a defined period (for example, a specific outing).

I have found that the behaviour-induced toy confiscation has not been quite as painless as its room-tidying counterpart and it basically comes down to the emotional attachment.

With the tidy room, the children could see what was on the floor, they had an opportunity to remove it and when they didn’t, I removed it for them. Simple. Quick. Efficient.

On the other hand, when the children were being naughty, they were already emotional and there was no direct correlation in their minds between bad behaviour and confiscation of toys … yet. I found that the best way of doing it was to remove the toy quickly. Efficient. And effective, particularly when it is their second-favourite toy. (In that case it was earned back with good behaviour and everybody won).

An unexpected, but welcome benefit which I am noticing is the whittling down of toys in common areas. None of the toys which I confiscated from untidy rooms have yet been requested. Out of sight, out of mind. Maybe I’ll have to get a bigger cardboard box.


  1. I need to start getting some savvy discipline ideas.....my 2 and 8 month old is getting wise to the time out in his room. At first he was bereft, and now he's starting to play quietly.
    This could be a good place to start!

  2. I am a bit meaner than you, but maybe my children are a bit older.. My daughter in particular has real problems tidying her room. It got to the point where the toys were not confiscated for return, they were taken to the op shop. It has happened a few times and her room is much, much better. I am selective in what is removed though and it tends to be the toys that would be whittled out soon anyway, but shhhh! Don't tell her that!

  3. Sounds like a great plan that is working - keep it up !!!
    Have a great day !

  4. I like the idea of confiscation if rooms are not tidied up enough - will have to work on that one...

  5. I'm definitely registering your idea for later on, when I have kids!

  6. What an excellent idea! I will have to keep this in mind to use with my 2.5 year old in the next few months.

  7. Forgot to say I'm visiting from IBOT!

  8. It's great that you've found something that works for you xx

  9. I've decided that I need to do a big declutter of toys because with all they have it's hard to keep a tidy room, even for me! Might copy your idea down the track,

  10. Fantastic idea, might have to steal it - once I declutter their rooms!

  11. I read about this too!

    We are currently in the process of moving but when we have I plan on implementing this! Glad to hear it can work! :)

  12. I love that idea of keeping the rooms tidy, though I think I would need a skip.

    Also a good way to slowly collect items for a garage sale!


  13. I do this with my kids, but for some reason my boys arent bothered about losing toys like my girl is.. lol

  14. What a great idea!
    I will have to tuck that one away for when Toddler C is a bit older!


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