How to stop toddlers from tearing books

by Holly
toddler keeps tearing books

As a mom, keeping our children safe and busy is our top priority. But sometimes, our sweet little angels can turn into little monsters and start tearing up valuable things like our beloved books.

It’s natural for children to be curious and explore but as grown-ups, we must teach them the difference between what’s acceptable and what’s not.

If you’re having trouble controlling your child’s book-tearing habits, here are some tips that can help.

tearing books

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This post is all about how to stop toddlers from tearing books.

Why is my child ripping books

As parents, it’s important to understand that children’s behaviors often stem from underlying issues or needs. By identifying the reasons behind their book-ripping behavior, we can respond with patience, understanding, and effective solutions.

Tearing books as a form of seeking sensory

Toddlers may rip books as a result of sensory-seeking behavior.

The sound and sensation of tearing paper can provide a satisfying sensory experience that helps them regulate their senses. If this is the case for your child, try providing alternative sensory experiences such as playdough or crunching on snacks to satisfy their sensory needs without damaging books.

It may also be helpful to introduce sensory-friendly board books, such as those with textures or interactive features, to help redirect their sensory-seeking behavior.

various touch and feel elements on each spread

Indestructible sensory book for toddlers

Cute fabric tails for sensory stimulation

Lack of fine motor skills

Young children have yet to fully develop their fine motor skills, making tasks such as turning pages and properly handling books a challenge.

This can result in accidental rips and tears.

Although these actions are not intentional or destructive, they can have long-term consequences for the condition of books. It’s important to be patient with your child as they develop their motor skills and practice proper book-handling techniques such as gently turning the pages from the corners rather than the middle.

A growing interest in reading

As children become interested in reading, they may become overzealous and rip pages in their excitement. This behavior can also stem from a desire for independence and control.

In these cases, it’s important to teach your child the value of books and how to properly care for them. Explain that ripping pages damages the book and eventually prevents them from being able to enjoy it in the future.

How do I stop my child from tearing books

Teach starting young

It’s never too early to start teaching your toddler about the importance of books and how to handle them. From the time they start crawling, introduce them to board books, which are durable and not easily torn apart.

Reinforce positive behavior by praising them when they look at, touch, and turn the pages gently.

Make reading a fun activity and build it into your daily or bedtime routine.

Remove temptations

It’s logical to think that if you want to prevent your child from tearing up your books, you need to remove the temptation from sight.

Try storing books on higher shelves, in closed cabinets, or anywhere your toddler can’t reach. Create a designated reading area for you and your child with intentional child-proofing.

If there are fewer books around, it becomes harder for your child to get their hands on them.

Distract and redirect

Children are more likely to act out when they are bored. When you notice your child getting bored, it’s time to divert their attention.

Offer them age-appropriate toys, such as building blocks, coloring books, or Play-Doh that can keep them engaged and occupied. Redirect and draw their attention toward other preferred sensory activities if they get the urge to tear a book.

This adorable “book” about farm babies can redirect your toddler’s urge to tear books with its soothing teether. Best of all, it is washable, chewable, unrippable, non-toxic and BPA-free.

Bonus – this book has a hole that can be attached to any stroller ring!

Be a role model

Children learn more by observing than by listening, so be the role model and show respect for your books.

Keep your books in good condition, set aside dedicated reading time in front of them, and handle them with care.

Your child will learn and imitate your behavior, so develop healthy book habits or you can forget about your child encouraging reading as your child grows.

Swap for Indestructible books

Swapping those flimsy pages for some indestructible ones is a quick and easy solution to toddlers obsessed with ripping paper.

That’s right, you heard me – books that can withstand even the toughest of tiny hands.

Not only are they tear-proof, but these books are also chew-proof, non-toxic, and washable. So the next time your toddler decides to go all Hulk on their favorite story, rest easy knowing that the pages will stay intact.

Amazon #1 Bestseller in children’s farm life book Under $5

Great for learning how to count • Under $6

Amazon #1 Bestseller in children’s boats & ships books • Under $5

Stop ripping paper with sensory replacement

Instead of giving them books to tear, provide them with materials designed specifically for this purpose.

Old newspapers, junk mail, or even cheap wrapping paper can serve as excellent substitutes. These materials give the same satisfying tear and crinkle, without the heartbreak of a ruined book.

This strategy not only saves your child’s books but also encourages them to explore their senses in a safe and appropriate manner.

Read rules and limits

If your child is old enough to understand rules, let them know what is expected of them and establish clear boundaries.

Keep reminding them of the rules when necessary, so they know their behavior will be monitored. Let them know that ripping and tearing books will not be tolerated.

Lastly, provide an alternative that encourages positive behavior that is consistent with your family’s values and beliefs.

When do toddlers stop ripping books

This tearing up books behavior typically stops by the time kids are around 3-4 years old. Most toddlers will eventually stop tearing books apart as they grow older and their tiny brains begin to comprehend that books are not, in fact, edible.

Of course, there may be some bumps along the road as they continue to test the limits of what is considered appropriate book behavior. But don’t worry, just invest in some sturdy board books or Indestructibles, and keep telling yourself – it’s just a phase.

Final thoughts on child tearing books

Every parent goes through this phase, but it’s not a big deal if handled well.

Remember that your child’s book-tearing habit is something that they will grow out of. However, it’s still a good idea to teach them how to respect books from a young age.

Consistency, direction, and patience are all essential components of teaching children how to respect books, so remain steadfast and stick to a plan that fits your unique family.

By using these tips, you’ll be able to protect your books while helping your child develop healthy habits all at the same time.

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