This sign depends on whether breaking and damaging things is accidental, unintentional, or on purpose. These are three different problems. If your youngster often breaks things by accident, it is probably a physical problem. It may involve coordination, vision, or another medical problem that needs to be evaluated by a physician.
Unintentionally breaking things is a little harder to understand. It may be because of not knowing how to use toys and equipment. Think about why it happens and see if teaching your child how to use things correctly might work better than forbidding him to use whatever he broke.
Unintentionally breaking or intentionally breaking things are sometimes degrees of the same behavior. Your child feels upset, angry, or wants to get even. He is careless and too rough with others’ things and may intentionally break them or at least not care. He may behave the same way with his things, taking out his anger and frustration on objects. Whatever the focus of his aggression, the behavior is a kind of temper tantrum.
Although it is extraordinarily difficult, if your child is exhibiting this behavior, it is better to calmly watch while he breaks whatever it is, unless your child or someone else might be hurt. Most of the time, you cannot stop him anyway. He can always break it when you are not there to do anything about it.
There are several things you can do. If your child can, he should pay for what he broke. If you use this approach, avoid taking away all his money for very long. It is better to set up payments your child can afford.
Further, it usually helps not to replace what he broke if it belonged to him; but be careful. You do not want him to end up with nothing but junk. He needs to see his things as valuable before not breaking them will matter to him.
Each time he breaks something, talk with him about how he felt. Your goal is to get your child to talk about how he felt angry, jealous, or frustrated. You can say, “Your breaking things is a problem. At least you reached your goal. If you broke them to cause someone a problem, you got the job done. That lets me know you can communicate. Here’s what I want to talk about. There are better ways to let people know how you feel. For example, yelling or pounding your pillow is better. They aren’t long-term solutions but are in the right direction. Can you talk about some choices you have better than breaking things?” Having this discussion with him as often as necessary is important. Have it each time the problem occurs. That will be easier if you have this discussion when neither you nor your child is upset or angry. This may mean you will need to wait a while to give both you and your child a chance to settle.