How to get your toddler to stop throwing things

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Your toddler loves throwing things around—find out why, and how to get him to stop!

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Get your toddler to stop throwing things with these useful tips!

We get excited over the first tooth, first word, first step and all those major milestones in the lives of our children…

So you would think that the first time they discovered the concept of gravity and motion, we’d be excited, too, right? When put in those terms, it makes the little darling sound like the next Einstein.

But excitement probably isn’t what you’re feeling when your toddler seems to put the laws of gravity and motion into action every single minute!

Instead, you’re probably asking yourself how you can get your toddler to stop throwing things around… before you go mad!

Well, before we go on to the ‘how’, it might be helpful to know the ‘why’ behind your child’s behavior — at least you’ll be more patient and understanding that way!

Why babies and toddlers throw things

At about 6 to 8 months of age, your baby is beginning to have the ability to drop and even throw things. In his eyes, things such as pacifiers, small toys and even his bottle or food are considered possible projectiles.

But why? And does this mean you’re destined to raise a physically aggressive child?

Let’s work backwards on this one. The answer to the second question is a resounding NO! That’s all.

So we go back to the first question of ‘why’, which can be answered almost as easily — because he can.

The truth is, in the beginning, a baby or toddler who throws his pacifier, his toys, shoes, food or other objects he can get their hands on is simply experimenting with his newly acquired motor skills.

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Try to understand why your toddler does what he does — including why he loves throwing things!

Yes, mummy, all of this is part of your little one’s growth and development. In fact, watching something leave his hands and fall to the floor, bounce, splatter or land with a simple thud is quite exciting and entertaining to a baby.

It also doesn’t take long for your baby to realize that his actions spark a reaction from you.

You bend over to pick up the pacifier or toy that he threw to the floor.

You may even laugh when he throws certain things, though even your dismayed reaction to getting food launched at you or the floor is enough to make a baby feel curious or even adventurous.

So, based on the fact that his throwing things is an attention-grabber, he might just keep doing it.

However, as your child continues to grow into toddlerhood, his reasons for throwing things may increase. Getting your attention is still one of the biggest ones.

You need to take note though, that throwing things as an act of aggression or to display/release feelings of anger and frustration may begin to surface around 18 months of age. This is when you need to address the ‘issue’ and get your toddler to stop throwing things.

Tips for getting your toddler to stop throwing things

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Play ball with your toddler so that she will know the proper time and place for throwing things.

The fact that your toddler is throwing things isn’t the problem. The problem is what she’s throwing.

Since you’re the parent — the one with the ability to discern what should and shouldn’t be thrown — it’s up to you to teach your child the ins and outs, the do’s and do not’s of throwing.

Here are a few things you can do:

Provide alternatives

– Get your toddler to stop throwing things that shouldn’t be thrown by asking them to throw things that are OK to be thrown, such as balls, beanbags and sponges.

– Play ball with your toddler. Tossing or rolling a ball back and forth is a wonderful way to develop hand-eye coordination, motor skills and also spend quality time together.

– Miniature free-standing basketball hoops are also a great outlet for your toddler’s desire to throw something.

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Let your toddler practise “throwing things” — like a basketball!

– Bean bag toss games (even if the target is a trash can or box) or letting them throw water-filled sponges at a board in the back yard are both constructive and fun activities that will still allow your toddler to throw things.

By allowing them to throw things that are suitable and acceptable, you will be able to explain why it isn’t good to throw shoes, food, toys and other objects that aren’t suitable and acceptable for throwing.

For example:

Your toddler hurls a book across the room when you tell him/her no more stories before naptime.

Instead of losing it or ignoring it (which is just as bad), calmly take him/her by the hand, lead him/her to the book and instruct him/her to pick it up.

Bend down to his/her eye level and say, “No. Books are for reading, not throwing. We only throw balls and (name other things that he/she is allowed to throw).”

Follow this up by guiding him/her in putting the book away properly.

Repeat this process when necessary — if you do it often enough, your toddler will eventually ‘get’ it and remember the rules about throwing things.

Make things “throw-proof”

You can also get your toddler to stop throwing things by making it more difficult for him to do so:

  • Use plates and bowls with suction cups that “stick” to the table or tray of his high chair. These are great for preventing accidental spills too.
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Try using dishes or bowls that have suction cups on the bottom, so it will be difficult for your toddler to throw them around.

  • You can also avoid messy ‘food fights’ by placing only small portions of food on your child’s plate. You can always give him more food when he’s finished everything up.
  • Prevent your toddler from throwing toys from the stroller, car seat or grocery cart by tying them down… or leaving them altogether!
  • If your toddler uses a pacifier, consider using a pacifier loop or clip. However, make sure that it is used safely to avoid any choking or strangulation hazards.

Take swift and appropriate action

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Remind your toddler that throwing things around is not a good way to express his anger.

Throwing can get out of hand especially when your toddler throws things at their playmates or even at you when they become angry. This cannot and should not be tolerated.

While reminding your toddler that “we don’t throw cars or blocks or dolls” is all well and good (and should be done), it is also necessary to address the reason for his/her outburst — which is usually anger.

Expressing anger by throwing things is never good. Your toddler needs to know this — the sooner, the better.

When your toddler throws his food at you in protest or his toys at a playmate out of anger, you need to take swift and appropriate action.

Talk to your toddler and let him/her suffer the consequences

The first thing you should do when your toddler is throwing things at other people out of anger is to acknowledge his/her actions as wrong and unacceptable.

Remind him/her that only balls, etc. are to be thrown for play. This should be done without belittling or yelling.

You also need to bring him/her to the understanding that what he/she did hurt someone else or caused a mess.

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Always talk to your toddler about why it is not good to throw things at people, and the consequences of such actions.

Finally, your child needs to suffer the consequences of their actions. Here are examples of what you can say:

  • “You threw your dinner on the floor, so now I will not be able to read to you because I have to clean up the mess.”
  • “You hurt your friend when you threw your truck. Hurting someone is never good. You will need to let them know you are sorry you hurt them and then will not be able to play with (the object that was thrown) for the rest of the day.”
  • “Throwing anything that isn’t a ball (and other acceptable items) is not allowed. We’ve talked about this, so because you threw the _____________ I am going to put it away until you learn how to treat it nicely.”
  • “It is wrong to throw things when you are mad. When you get mad, stomp your foot and use your words so Daddy and I can help you.”

By being consistent with our words and actions, it will be easier to ‘train’ our children to do the right thing — and stop doing things such as throwing objects around without reason. It may be challenging at first, but our patience will bear fruit in the end!

What tips and tricks did you use to get your toddler to stop throwing things? Share them with us by leaving a comment below!