Friday, September 2, 2011

My 4 year old grandson got markers on the wall!

Subject: discipline

Question: My 4 year old grandson just marked all over my bedroom walls with a

permanent marker. What do I do? He is in my custody temporarily, so it is up to



Dear Carla:

I am not an expert on getting off permanent markers so however that is dealt with would be best. What I would do is explain to your 4 year old grandson that markers are for marking on paper. Try getting a large sheet of paper and then showing him where he can use the markers.

I often suggest to parents putting large pieces of papers on the walls and letting children color on the paper. However, I would keep the permanent markers up where the 4 year old cannot get hold of them. If I am not mistaken they may not be good for them to ingest much less breathe in.

Your grandson is lucky to have you. I understand from AARP that there are more grandparents raising grandchildren than are currently in any of the state foster care systems. I know it can be overwhelming as so much has changed in just the last 10 years and more so the further back we go. Please do feel free to visit the site.

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: I know how to take care of the walls! It is him I'm concerned with. He knows he

was wrong, he has paper, crayons, color books, etc. I'm asking what is appropriate punishment?

Answer: Dear Carla:

I was trying to be tactful. My point was he is 4 years old, how did he get the permanent marker and mark up the walls? Isn't the adult suppose to be watching him?

I do not support punishments. The assumption that he knows it was wrong is wrong. He knows you are angry. He thought marking on the walls would be fun. You need to put permanent markers up where a 4 year old cannot get at them and be available enough that he doesn't have the opportunity to mark up a wall.

I would suggest cleaning the wall and letting him watch you as you explain why marking the walls is not appropriate and reinforcing that coloring on paper is appropriate by sitting down and coloring with him after the wall is cleaned.

Also, any action taken more than a minute or two after the incident is a waste of time. When we punish children it is not about the child it is about our need to feel vindicated.

Hopefully you two will spend sometime coloring tomorrow and have a wonderful day.


M Kay Keller

1 comment:

  1. Hi Carla,
    I'm not sure how to get the maker's off the walls either, but I would agree about putting the marker's up where he can't get them and buy some kid friendly markers or just have his use crayons. My kids, who are our grandkids also, have done that and the marker is still on the wall. I think it's best when they are young to mention things at the time then let it go otherwise they will just do it again because you keep bringing it up. Good luck and have fun with him.