So... this is getting annoying in our house :) Our eldest learned to roll things or put them down gently instead of throwing everything around the room. Until our second son came into the throwing phase and now the third one is getting into this habit too. Yes, "throwing things is an enjoyable new skill for children his age". And so it seems. Balls would generally be all right but books, toy cars, cutlery, food, and other hard objects are obviously not ok.
What usually works in our house are the following tactics, which do still take a little practice on my part...
- Sigh, count to three in my head and know the behavior is completely normal. And it is normal to get a little frustrated by it as a parent, and to want to nip it in the bud.
- "Please roll the ball". "Blocks are for building". I try not just to say "stop" or "stop throwing" but I name the behavior I would like to see instead. Of course I never yell, stay upright and more than three feet away from them, or say this to them while we don't have eye contact... ahem.
- Do try to empathize though. There may be one of these three reasons for a toddler to throw things. The first is limited skills. Toddlers are limited in their ability to deal with challenging situations. Throwing could be one of his few ways to express himself or get your attention. Mmm. So, I need to avoid any attention deficits even more :) Did I mention there's three of them :). The second reason is curiosity. Toddlers want to know how the world (i.e. gravity) works. They love repetition too, and need it to develop an understanding of cause (I throw this) and effect (it lands on my brothers head and now he's hurt. See if that's the case every time I try). A third possible reason is fun. Yep. Toddlers might enjoy throwing because it gives them a sense of control. And sometimes it's just what they feel like doing, not having learned yet that it is not appropriate. Shame I'm not a certified teacher.
- Remove the thrown object. That is a logical and proportional consequence for inappropriate behavior once you have explained and acknowledged and indicated there is another place and time for throwing. Toddlers love to test limits, as you will be aware. So, set them and empathically enforce them. And once you can assume kiddo knows the rules... don't warn, but enforce immediately.
- Supply plenty of (soft) balls that can be thrown, to fulfill the apparent need (or addiction).
- Model the appropriate behavior. So don't throw a towel their way if there's a bogey they can clean themselves and you're not close by. Don't throw. Anything. Except soft balls.
- Teach some more. Help your kiddo understand the effects of negative actions. "What happens to the birds in the cage when you throw your hammer at them?" Practice the skill of understanding another person's (animal's, thing's) point of view together, because it is difficult. Imagine understanding your toddler.
- Get the kid(s) involved in cleaning up any mess or mishap that is created by the throwing. Every time!! Together. Make it fun. You know what I mean, though it won't be a quick clean-up this way. But then they will learn how to take responsibility for their actions, in this case cleaning up the mess they made themselves.
- And then... hug and then head outside and go throw some balls for real :)
Lots of love. And patience! xox