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My son who is 6 years old spills a drink at least once every 2 weeks. I don't know how normal this is, but in my opinion, it's not that big a deal. I mean, of course cleanup is bothersome and the frequency of this is upsetting, but it's not something that I feel calls for disciplinary action. My husband however feels that at this point, it's happening because we have yet to really punish him. It's clearly evident that when he does it, he's completely sorry and sometimes will start crying because he feels bad. What would you do in this situation?

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Comment by Vanessa Martinez on November 24, 2008 at 11:05pm
" would seriously do everything I could to reassure my child "not to cry over spilt milk". I think it's extremely sad that he is brought to the point of tears from a little accident which he obviously has no control over. Punishing him or berating him might actually make the situation worse."

You are so right. The couple of times that he has started crying, I explained to him that spilling drinks is an accident and there is nothing wrong with it. I remember being the same way though when I was little. The few times I spilled a drink, I was so scared... I just felt bad. No one ever scolded us or anything, it was just one of those things I felt so guilty about. I think he's just a little like me in that sense. We've made him help clean up the mess, but never have made him do it all by himself. I guess we should try this instead, like you said as a "reasonable consequence and not as punishment". Thus far, our whole 'lesson learned' has been "Try to be a little more careful next time ok?"

Glad to know I'm on the right page about not disciplining him for spilled milk/drink.

Thanks Laura for the advice!
Comment by Laura on November 23, 2008 at 11:41pm
I know how frequent spills can be so annoying. I can't see using disciplinary action for mistakes is a wise choice, but I understand your husband's frustration, though my own son is only four.

I read at one point that as children go through growth spurts they become more clumsy because (paraphrased since I don't remember the source) they have to, in essence, get used to their own bodies proportions. Often children bump into things or knock things over and it can be extremely frustrating for them.

I would seriously do everything I could to reassure my child "not to cry over spilt milk". I think it's extremely sad that he is brought to the point of tears from a little accident which he obviously has no control over. Punishing him or berating him might actually make the situation worse. If he's nervous and afraid he might be more jittery and apt to knock his cup over . I would make sure he is the one to clean up his own mess. That is the reasonable consequence and not a punishment. He will feel better because he doesn't feel like he's done something horrible and because he has the ability to take care of the situation on his own.

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