What happens when you have a child that just loves knocking wooden towers or blocks down ?

Let’s consider ……. 

Firstly it’s important to remember, children learn in a multitude of different ways, they don’t all learn following a specific set of ideals or conform to any one way of doing something. All neatly following the same linear path or schematic learning style. It just doesn’t happen that way. Every child is unique


Some children like to build UP a wooden tower of blocks, building with careful intent, quietly, methodically and with quiet concentration and attention. Taking time to slowly build elaborate constructions and intricate designs. It’s incredible to watch, we notice with wonder at their concentration and deep engagement. We feel proud of their achievements, celebrating their success!

Other children however, prefer to see, watch and hear as things come crashing down, destructing, demolishing and listening to it falls, collapses and clatter ! They love to knock DOWN towers! It’s quick, fast, noisy, messy! 


Is it Destructing or is it actually DeCoNSTRUCTION ? 

Is it DEconstructing instead of constructive, which is often viewed negatively compared to the positive thoughts we have just given and assigned to the previous child and their efforts to construct? Most certainly, it can be upsetting for any child who has been building intently, to have their creation bulldozed and knock over by an eager and over zealous or enthuastic peer.

However, was it done with malicious intent or malice OR perhaps their learning style urge is deconstruction. A spontaneous, impulse an URGE ? Do we have a child who just LOVES to knock things down, the noise, the force as things fall. To watch the impact, the movement of resources. The trajectory as things spin and land ? The cause and effect? The chaos and disarray instead of methodical silence and calm. 


Let’s remember. PLAY takes on various forms. It’s quite often noisy energetic, messy and boisterous. All children play and learn in a multitude of ways ( Have you read our previous posts about schematic learning styles ?) This destructive or deconstructing is just another way children learn

Some children like to CONSTRUCT while other love to Deconstruct . Therefore, Isn’t it our job to meet ALL children's needs and urges?

To FIRSTLY understand behaviour instead of just managing it. Do we watch with mindful consideration and understand WHY children do what they do? OR do we instinctively see destructive play in a negative light ?

Most certainly, we need to allow any child to be able to build and create without worry or fear that their work will be destroyed. This isn’t a free for all, where anybody is allowed to go knocking down towers or dropping items just because they have a specific learning style

As Early Years practitioners we must help children develop skills of emotional literacy, kindness, empathy and respect. To share the play space with their peers. To take turns and consider each other’s feeling and needs. 

If we are teaching children to respect EACH other Doesn’t this also mean WE ( adults) must ALSO be giving equal consideration to a child who loves to knock things over too ? Are children allowed to do this somewhere in the setting? In a designated space, perhaps on a larger scale ? How amazing would that be ? Could they be given their own opportunities to meet THEIR learning styles or is it seen as NOT an acceptable way to play ? Are we ONLY recognising and seeing the ‘Building UP of a tower’ as the only acceptable way of playing and learning? Or do you embrace it ALL ?


Could children be encourage to take turns, to collaborate? To wait and respect each other’s needs.

One child building up - then when complete - one is allowed and given permission to knock the tower down ? Could children who like to knock things down be given permission and their own space and resources to do so ? Have you as the adult, /shared your own joy happiness and excitement, celebrating when knocking down your own tower? What jubilation as you watch the tins fall and clatter to the ground. Showcasing that it’s an acceptable way to play

Let’s reflect, do we give ‘equal’ value to deconstruction just as much as construction ? Let’s transform our own views of destructive play and recognise the power of play. 


The Curiosity Approach® is a mindful approach that asks us to be curious about our own professional practice and turning the lens on our own ideas and views Final word ! I dedicate this post to my son Lewis who at 26 is in the demolish industry and loves to knock things down for a living.

Today in your settings, you may have the child who may grow up to become the architect, the designer, the builder or scientists. You may ALSO have in your setting the demolition contractor, or the bomb disposal expert too! Value the ideas, thinking, learning styles and urges of them all

Let’s ‘UNDERSTAND’ children’s behaviour instead of just managing it! Behaviour understanding instead of behaviour management

Be curious, have fun and make a difference

Copyright2022 The Curiosity Approach

Written by Stephanie Bennett