How To Stop Toddlers Who Knock Down Other Children’s Block Towers

block towers

The majority of toddlers reach a stage where they DELIGHT in knocking down block towers.  Most of them aren’t so handy yet at building the tower again after it has been demolished.  If they can find a parent/caregiver/older child to build towers for them to then knock down, this activity will keep them amused for hours.  The problem arises when you have an older child who can build a block tower but DOES NOT want it knocked down.  They may have built it to knock it down themselves or they may have built it as part of a larger game.

I’ve had several home daycare providers ask me my solution to this common dilemma and I’d like to share it with you today.  One year I had a baby, 2 toddlers and 2 preschoolers.  The preschoolers would happily build high block towers together and then the toddlers would wander by and smash them down!  After repetitively comforting angry preschoolers and trying unsuccessfully to redirect impulsive toddlers I was ready to put the blocks away for good.

It would not have been fair to the preschoolers to take away the blocks because they were the victims in this situation.  The toddlers had been told multiple times to stop the behaviour and they had been given their own blocks to use but nothing seemed to work. Toddlers are too young to have good impulse control and a tall block tower is just too tempting to them.

The solution was to separate the children so the preschoolers could build in peace. I have baby gates installed in my front entrance space to block off two sets of stairs. If I added one more gate it created a separate space that was easily supervised from the playroom.  This was the perfect “safe zone for block towers!”

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The preschoolers would have an open flat spot to build their towers and the toddlers would have the run of all the toys in the playroom.  I stayed in the playroom with the baby and toddlers and could easily observe the preschoolers through the gate.

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Did the new set-up work?  Well, let’s just say the toddlers were not impressed the first time they realized they couldn’t knock down the towers.  They screamed, they cried, they protested.  I helped them build some towers of their own to knock down but it wasn’t the same for them.  They were upset.  The preschoolers on the other hand were very happy.  They were finally able to play to their heart’s content without the fear of their game being sabotaged.  Thank goodness toddlers tend to have short attention spans and soon they busied themselves with other projects and left the preschoolers to build without a vocal audience.  I always stayed with the toddlers and gave them extra attention so they didn’t feel left out.

Do you have an area in your home daycare where you could create a ‘safe block tower building zone?’  If so, I encourage you to give this solution a try, it has worked out beautifully for my home daycare.  I’ve also used this solution on occasion when my school age children wanted to play with small toys that could be a choking hazard for my younger ones.  Trying to meet everyone’s needs can be challenging, I hope this helps!

Comments

  1. Nichole Collins says

    Great Idea, thank you so much! I have a very small area I could do this with, but not sure if it’s big enough. Maybe I can re-arrange our playroom a little more too. Luckily Memorial Day (not all of it) is great to try new things around.

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