Toddlers are little people who are discovering that they have an individual personality, separate from their mother’s. They are discovering that they can function individually. When the toddlers stop crawling and begin to stand in the upright position, they discover they have two hands with fingers that have AMAZING abilities – of grasping things, of banging them together and if required, throwing them! If your toddler is throwing things, relax and take a deep breath.
Remember the days when you were learning how to cycle? I am sure you used to eat, drink and sleep that passion. Heck, I even dream of practicing to cycle in my dreams. The ART of throwing things is actually as enjoyable to them as our learning and mastering a new skill. Throwing an object requires quite an amount of fine motor skill and hand-eye coordination, something which is still new and therefore exciting for a toddler.
There are so many new learning that happens with this process of hurling objects. The toddler notices that whatever it throws, the object always falls down and does not float or goes up- her introduction to the law of gravity. Though it will be like a couple of years before she hears the word formally in a physics class. Then the part where she observes how different things behave differently when thrown. Like a ball will bounce whereas a fruit will go thud, and a rattle when thrown, will clang loudly. Of course, the jumping fit that momma throws when that entire bowl of cereal is thrown on the floor is an added entertainment.
What can we do
Unless her throwing is not causing a serious concern like throwing a rock at another baby or dropping things off a window sill where a passer-by can get hurt, do not stop her from throwing stuff. In fact, encourage her to throw but gently nudge her to choose the right objects to be thrown like a ball or a Frisbee. Convey the message that throwing things is fine as long as she throws the right thing. If she throws a wrong thing like her clothes, take deep breaths and calmly tell her clothes are not for throwing, hand her a ball and encourage her to throw it.
Sometimes, this throwing business takes a serious turn when she tries to extort a reaction from you. For instance, she knows that mommy will go in a hopping, jumping mad rage when she throws stuff at other babies or pours sand over herself from the sandpit. Toddlers are in a stage where they love to be the center of your universe. They will do anything to grab your attention. The first time your baby tries these tactics, ignore her. Yeah, it will take a hell lot of patience on your part but do not pay heed. They do not care if you are shouting or cooing…what they thrive on is that they have your attention. If they continue with this tactics, tell in a stern but zero drama voice that ‘’it hurts’’. It’s okay to show her that her actions made you unhappy. Just keep it sans drama. Do not yell or under any circumstances, do not hit.
Few things that you need to understand when a toddler is throwing stuff repeatedly in spite of you telling her not to.
- Small kids have a very short memory recall. You have to remind them time and again so that it gets imbibed fully.
- Do not take the behavior personally. Toddlers repeat a particular activity to either grab your attention or to feel on top of the situation as they are able to extract a reaction from you whenever they want.
- Be calm and show confidence when telling the toddler not to repeat a particular thing. If you overreact, it will add fuel to the fire.
- Give them choices. Telling them not to do certain things is a job half done. Tell them what they CAN do instead. ‘’ No you can’t throw a shoe, here, take this ball instead and let’s play catch’’.
- Do not ask them to clean up ALL the mess they have made. It is too much to ask from them. Instead, tell them to let’s do it together so they know that there is no running away from the consequences but also it’s not out an out punishment either.
Do you have a toddler who throws things? What does he/she usually throw? Do you have tips that work for you? Share with us so other mothers going through this exasperating phase can benefit from them.