The Week We Took Away All The Cars

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My son, like many boys, loves cars. He plays with every single one of his cars on a daily basis, and he has about 30. While he has a variety of other toys that he plays with, his cars are the go-to for any occasion. He’ll play with them outside, at church, in the car, etc.  Often we’ll let him take a few with him when we go shopping (so he doesn’t play with the cars in the store and then ask us to buy them).

So, when we caught him in the worst poop smearing incident yet, it was time to take drastic action. But before we get to that, let me just describe the scene. We were all napping on a Sunday (or so we thought). It had been two days since D had pooped, and he brewed a big one. We had forgotten to duct tape his diaper shut this time so when my husband went in to check on him there was poop everywhere. It was specifically concentrated on one wall, where D had made himself busy with an abstract art piece. It was ground into the walls, into the carpet, and the smell was unbearable. D himself was caked in poop. I spent nearly an hour getting it off the walls and carpet and I could still see stains. The smell was so strong we left the window open for an entire day.

After discussing several punishments, we decided to take away every single car he owned for a week. We sat D down and explained to him that because he smeared poop (after being told repeatedly in the past not to do it) we were taking away all of his cars. He teared up and said, “I don’t like that idea.” We explained was how punishments worked. Then I bagged up all the cars and hid them.

I braced myself for a week full of tantrums, but to my surprise, we didn’t have that many issues! D still missed his cars and asked about them 1-2 times a day (usually right when he woke up in the morning and after his nap). Once I reminded him that they were in time-out, he would move on and play with his other toys. It was so refreshing to see him play with things he had mostly ignored over the last couple months. Cars had always dominated every play activity, it was nice to see him branch out and be creative with all the other toys he had.

This made me realize that maybe we had created this beast by providing so many cars for him. But with each car we bought, he would get so excited and play with it often. As I mentioned above, he played with every single one of his cars daily. But as the week came to an end I began to wonder if there could be a way to limit the cars in the home. We threw away some broken ones, donated a few, and returned the rest of the cars to him at the end of the week with a stipulation- nearly half would be “outside” cars.

Predictably, D was thrilled to get his cars back. He played with them a good amount, and has fallen back into some of his old ways. However, because we have limited the amount of cars in the house, I feel like he spends less time playing with his cars overall. He has rediscovered some old non-car toys that he loves, and now plays with them more regularly as well. A couple weeks later, he still remembers why the cars were taken away. He’ll even tell visitors how his cars were in time-out because he smeared poop. So we hope the lesson has stuck.

Want to know the best ways to get poop out of walls and carpet? Leave a comment below and I’ll let you know.