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Is Your Toddler Obsessed with Destroying Things? Could Sound Books Be the Answer?

I remember watching our youngest walking around the living room, I was happy to see him pick up one of my beloved books. It was filled with stories that had been read to me as a child. He sat back and flicked through the pages, and I thought to myself, “Aren’t we lucky to have a born reader!” but I was immediately interrupted by the sound of my toddler gigging and ripping the pages. My son had decided that my cherished collection of stories would serve our family better as a pile of loose-leaf paper than as a complete book. Alas, he didn’t want to read… he wanted to rip.

Soon after, this became a common experience. Most parents discover this as their kids grow into toddlers. They suddenly become interested in ripping books or destroying things, with no regard for the items or their owners.

While this behavior may have seemingly come out of the blue and be a concern for parents, fear not! This reckless joy of destruction is a normal and important part of their development. Understanding why they do this and learning how to channel this beautifully destructive energy is a part of that process as well and why we wrote this guide for you.

Why Are Some Toddlers Destructive?

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You may be asking yourself, “Is it normal for toddlers to rip books?”, and the answer is a resounding “YES!”. You may also then ask yourself, “Why would they do such a thing? What benefit could that possibly have?”.

On the surface, it may seem irrational but what they are trying to do, is figure out how these things are put together and how they work. What is truly driving these actions is the innate curiosity that children are born with. You may see a toddler obsessed with ripping paper or a toddler that destroys everything but what they are truly doing is discovering and testing cause and effect.

  • “If I pull, the page rips and it makes a funny noise. If I do it again, it happens again. Interesting.”
  • “If I push over this thing, it falls and makes a loud noise.”
  • “When I put force on this crayon, it breaks into two crayons.”
  • “If I throw this toy hard, it flies out of my hand and bounces off the wall.”

Remember, these kids have never experienced any of this yet. No wonder it is interesting! Especially because they are the ones causing all the all the action. They are discovering that they have the power to affect the world around them and they are exploring that power.

Even things that may seem nonsensical, like if your toddler reads books upside down, are part of the process. They are using it to see a new perspective of a familiar sight, helping them to understand that reading is done “this” way as opposed to “that” way.

Strategies for Channeling Destructive Behaviors

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Even though this is a natural step in a child’s development, it doesn’t mean that you should place no boundaries or allow them to destroy your entire household. There are gentle and effective ways of channeling this behavior without punishing it or squashing their curiosity. How can you go from a toddler ripping books to a toddler learning in a less destructive and less costly way?

Redirect Their Energy

Redirecting their energy is the best way to help your kids learn through this phase. They can still be breaking or “de-constructing” toys, but they should be doing it with toys that are built to be played with in that manner. What are some toys for toddlers who like to destroy things?

  • Lego Duplo: This is a staple toy in our home and has been for all our children. Your kids can actively build and when they are done, destroy to their heart’s content. This toy is robust and can handle the most powerful toddler. Expert tip: watch where you step when you have this type of toy in your home!
  • Jenga Blocks: One of the best tower-building toys available, it is particularly fun to push over and destroy. Your kids will have a great time stacking blocks and smashing blocks again and again and again…

Set Boundaries

Just because toddlers are curious doesn’t mean they get to do whatever they want. Teaching your kids the value of their possessions and setting appropriate boundaries is one of the best ways to help them be curious without destroying everything you own. How do you teach them the value of their possessions?

  • Let Them Know What You Expect: Explain to them how you expect them to use and care for their toys and books. Show them what type of play is acceptable and what is not.
  • Apply Consequences: This comes after explaining expectations and modelling appropriate behavior. If they continuously break crayons or rip pages, they can be taken away and you can explain why you are taking that action.
  • Encourage Good Behavior: When you see them acting responsibly or are using a book or toy as they are meant to be used, encourage them! Also encourage their curious, destructive behavior when it is applied to the toys and items that are specifically for that purpose.

Be a Coach and a Role Model

Let your toddlers see you using items in the way they are meant to be used and point this out to them. When you are reading a book, playing with a toy, or writing with a crayon, discuss with them the importance of how utilizing it properly will allow you to enjoy it for much longer than if you choose to destroy it.

The Appeal of Sound Books

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A powerful and effective tool to use in the battle against a toddler who is obsessed with ripping paper or destroying things is the use of sound books. Sounds books are particularly effective for multiple reasons, including their multi-media format (sounds, pictures, buttons, and textures) and their robust construction, among others.

Durability Meets Engagement

Sound books are like the all-terrain vehicles of toddler toys. They are strong enough to handle what the kids can throw at them and interesting enough to keep most kids from trying to rip them to shreds.

Curiosity will drive your toddlers to great lengths and the beauty of sound books is that they provide multiple types of stimulation that engage their probing minds, distracting them from wanting to destroy the books within the first few seconds they get their hands on them.

The textile nature of the buttons and the thickness of the book’s construction, coupled with the diverse nature of the songs, melodies, and sounds from your sound books should be enough to keep your kids occupied and entertained.

Educational Benefits

Watching my kids engage with sound books and rocking to their beat, rhyme or melody are some of my favorite memories as a parent. Not only do they enjoy their time, but they are also enhancing their learning potential simultaneously.

Studies have shown that melody and music can positively affect children, helping develop their emotional intelligence and cognitive development. So, while they are playing and enjoying themselves, they are also developing the other parts of their brain that they will be relying on later in life.

Sound Books to Start With

Sounds books, as you can see, are a fun and exciting way to help your children learn how to play and be curious without being destructive. Armed with this knowledge, you set out to find the perfect book but how do you choose the right one?

  • The sound books should be constructed of high-quality materials and built with toddlers in mind.
  • Ideally, the sound books you choose should be offered in sets and bundles so that you can maximize the value you receive when purchasing your books.
  • Finally, you should buy your sound books from a company that cares about children and their development and empowers parents on their parenting journey. Cali’s Books hits all these targets and more! Our kids loved learning nursery rhymes, music styles and the alphabet, all from these incredibly well-designed books. Whether you are looking to learn how to sing Happy Birthday, Baby Shark, Halloween nursery rhymes or anything in between, they have the sound books for you and your kids!


While at first, it may have seemed like a string of intentional but random destructive behaviors, you now know it is the natural expression of curiosity that comes with being a child. Understanding how to channel these behaviors productively through being a good role model, setting proper boundaries, and redirecting their energy will give you the tools you need to regain control of the situation, restoring peace (as much as is normal for a toddler/parent household) once again.

Remember, this is a great step forward for your kids and while it may be hard to see at the time, your memories of this time will be some of your most cherished. Instead of pulling out your hair and screaming, “Why does my toddler destroy everything?!”, use sound books to capture and nurture that curiosity while giving it an outlet that doesn’t involve so much breaking or ripping. 

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Cali's Books, founder, about us, why I love books, children's books

Hi! I'm Cali, Founder of Cali's Books

“I’ve loved books since childhood and wanted to transmit this enthusiasm to my children”

I'm a mom of two young children who trained as an engineer and worked in investment banking and at Disney. A French of Caribbean origin (Martinique to be precise!), I grew up in Paris. Los Angeles is now the place I call home!

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