By Charlotte Hope, Lifestyle Editor @TLE_Lifestyle
When I was little I broke a washing machine, and it cost loads of money. Luckily it wasn’t mine, it belonged to the boy up the street who used to pull my hair. Ok let’s be honest it was his mum’s and it wasn’t her fault he used to beat me up. Anyway, my act of mindless vandalism aside, it turns out a lot of other children damage their own homes…by accident.
The average child will cause more than £2,000 worth of damage in their home by the time they reach the age of ten. Researchers who polled 2,000 mums and dads found the incredible bill includes torn wallpaper, ripped up carpets and even broken windows.
Parents said their kids’ frequent accidents and boisterous playtime meant they end up spending around £200 in repairs every year.
In fact, 49 per cent said their children were the root cause of destruction to the house – voting them more damaging than unruly pets, severe weather and badly fitted D.I.Y. jobs.
A spokesman for home-insurance company MORE TH>N, which commissioned the research, said, ‘’We all know that children are more accident-prone than adults, but it’s surprising how much damage they can cause. Younger children playing with friends or siblings can get overexcited and clumsy, whereas the heavy-handedness of teenagers can also be a risk.
‘’The results show that repairing this damage, however small, can add up to a lot of money over time. Especially when we take into account the additional wear-and-tear that a home suffers.’’
The research showed almost four in ten parents have found scribbles on the walls, whilst permanent stains on the carpet, shattered plates and broken stair banisters were other unwelcome discoveries.
Around 15 per cent of parents said their children have blocked the toilet or sink, and the same amount have had a window smashed. Amazingly, four percent of parents reported their kids had even set something on fire in their homes.
Intentional scratches in surfaces, carpets being pulled up and broken beds that had been jumped on too hard were also listed among the carnage.
Interestingly, two in three boys were deemed hazardous to the home by their parents – compared to only four in ten girls.
And it’s sons aged four to ten who are most likely to cause domestic chaos, raking in 36 per cent of the vote – whilst daughters of the same age received only 22 per cent.
Kids cause the most accidents when playing too roughly, said one in three parents; though having a tantrum or friends to visit also heightened the chance of damage.
According to the poll, more than half of parents have spent money repairing the consequences of their child’s actions with costs coming in at an average of £200 a year.
One in two even cited forking out for home repairs as one of the main drains on their finances – with 29 per cent who said they keep money aside as a precaution.
In an effort to improve things, six in ten said they’ve tried to teach their kids to be more considerate of the home, whereas 22 per cent have gone to the extent of never leaving them alone in a room.
But still, 25 per cent of parents feel they can’t buy anything breakable out of fear it will be ruined within months.
The spokesman also said, ‘’Over the years our homes will inevitably suffer from wear and tear, a lot of which can’t be prevented. But if your children are a common instigator to damage, it pays to have accidental damage cover as part of your home insurance.
‘’So at least when you find one of your child’s ‘creative masterpieces’, you’ll know your finances are covered – as well as the wall.’’
Most common damage caused by children
1. Drawing on walls
2. Permanent stains on the carpet
3. Breaking plates and crockery
4. Damaging furniture
5. Footprints/handprints on surfaces
6. Scratching upholstery
7. Blocking the toilet
8. Accidentally smashing a window
9. Scratching walls with bikes
10. Blocking kitchen/bathroom sink
11. Breaking beds by jumping on them
12. Staining kitchen surfaces
13. Breaking door handle
14. Pulling up carpets
15. Splashing paint on everything
16. Gluing things to furniture and walls
17. Breaking banister to the stairs
18. Breaking the TV
19. Setting things on fire
20. Putting toys in the microwave