When your toddler hurls a plastic dump truck into your flat screen television, your first instinct is probably not to exercise your patience. However, possibly having patience enough to remember a pre-devised plan for this situation is just the ticket.
It is not uncommon for a toddler to throw toys around. Luckily, like most thinelse with children, throwing toys is a phase.
How to discipline a toddler that throws toys?
We’ve been through generations of extremes when it comes to disciplining children, have we not?
First, there was the generation that was completely intolerant of a toddler throwing things at all, yes, strict disciplinarians. They meant no harm and only did it out of love, most of them anyway.
Then, the next generation went to the other extreme, letting the child decide everything for himself. Well, you don’t have to look too far to see how that went.
Today, we know that the best parenting methods are found somewhere in the middle. You want to set boundaries for your child when he throws a toy, but you never want to exasperate him. For instance, take a look into why your toddler may throw his toys instead of playing with them, and what to do, and not do, about it.
Lest start by understanding why toddlers throw toys instead of playing with them.
Why Do Toddlers Throw Toys Instead of Playing?
In the beginning, a toddler doesn’t understand that it’s wrong to throw his toys. He is only doing what seems natural to him by experimenting. When you explain to him how things work, this will be a new concept to him.
Your toddler is quite curious at this age, asking himself – What will this sippy cup do if I throw it at the blender on the counter? What will this plastic dinosaur do if I throw it across the room into daddy’s speaker? Not in these words, of course, but he is wondering just the same about cause and effect.
Any kid of any age just wants to have fun. Maybe he just thinks throwing toys is a blast or maybe he actually just likes your reaction when he throws a toy across the room.
A toddler’s proficiency, at this age, at expressing himself in words is extremely limited. He could need food, rest, or just a dry diaper, and he is frustrated because he cannot tell you. You want to rear a healthy child, so be patient and take the time to find out if throwing his toys is an expression of one of these other simple things.
Throwing toys can be a way of seeking attention. Have you been at work all day? Maybe he just wants to get some one-on-one with you and he knows that when he throws the toy you take your eyes from your phone and focus on him.
Maybe he wants to see your reaction. This is a bit different than attention-seeking behavior. He just wants to see how you’ll react. Will you laugh? Will you get angry?
Your toddler may be dealing with anger issues. These issues can come from many places, but a toddler that throws toys out of anger needs special attention. You need to get to the root of the problem and deal with it. Toddlerhood is too early a stage in life to have anger issues.
Is Throwing Toys a Problem for Parents?
It can cause you serious issues if your toddler is throwing toys.If he is throwing toys in daycare or the like:
He can hurt the other children, and you don’t want to think of serious injury but anything can happen. Plus, you want your child to have a good relationship with his classmates.
He will be reprimanded each time he does this, and eventually, he will be asked to permanently leave the school.
There is good news, though. It is probably only a phase that will soon pass, especially if you take the time to sit down and formulate a plan.
How to Stop Your Toddler from Throwing Toys?
Just telling a toddler to stop throwing his toys and expecting him to do it is, well, futile.
- Your toddler is too young to be given a responsibility like this. It isn’t fair because he does not understand until you help him to.
- This is not a wise thing to do because it will only frustrate him and cause deeper issues.
- For his well-being and further development, take a few minutes, and devise a plan. Then, all you have to do is follow through with it.
These are the basic rules for a plan to deal with a toddler who throws toys and come out the other side with a healthy toddler.
Figure out what the problem is.
First, take a deep breath and approach the situation calmly. If you approach the situation in anger, it will only make a bad situation worse.
Is frustration or anger over some issue causing the problem?
- Tell him, “Use your words.”
- It’s good to tell him this any time he is frustrated so that he can begin to communicate his frustrations in a positive manner.
- You may not be able to understand him now, but this will be a start for him toward learning to communicate clearly.
Set simple, straightforward boundaries, and switch his attention to throwable toys.
- Buy some safe toys, so that when this happens, you can switch the unsafe toy for a “soft” ball, a bean bag, or even play-dough balls.
- Create your own safe throwing games for kids at home, like throwing play-dough or yarn balls, or mated socks into a clean, colorful trash basket.
- If he throws a toy, you may say, “Do not throw the fire truck at Liam. You may throw the bean bags or the play-dough balls into the can.”
- If he throws the fire truck at Liam again, put him in a pre-discussed time-out.
It is a healthy and smart idea to participate in the new activity with your toddler, who just loves spending time with you!
Always and without fail, follow through.
- You must enforce the boundaries you have set.
- You must follow through every time. Repetition is how a toddler learns.
- Anything less will confuse him and defeat your purpose.
As you see, you can turn this into a fun experience and a chance for your toddler to learn, if you will just exercise a little patience…not always easy, but always worth it.
Vikki is the creator of Totsgo and the mother of two children. She is a passionate mother who enjoys assisting other parents.