Toddlers are learning about the world through trial and error. So sometimes they pick things up and throw them, just to see what happens. Some things, they learn, fly far, while others, such as cotton, simply float to the floor. Toddlers are perfecting their physical skills too, and learning how to throw is part of their gross motor development.
But toddlers also tend to take things to the extreme. A toddler who likes to throw stuffed animals might also throw his lunch — or throw one of his stuffed animals at the dog. Your job is to help your child learn when it’s okay to throw and when it isn’t. “A big part of parenting is teaching, and it’s a never-ending process,” says Elizabeth Pantley, author of The No-Cry Discipline Solution. “Patience is a requirement, too, since toddlers need repeated lessons.” It will take time — and lots of repetition — for your toddler to learn what’s okay to throw and when (and where) it’s okay to throw it.
Keep in mind that toddlers don’t always understand that one lesson may apply in other situations too. “If your toddler learns not to throw food at the dinner table, he may need to learn a new lesson about throwing food at a picnic,” Pantley says.
Don’t overreact when your child throws something inappropriately. Calmly deal with the situation (take away the leftover food; have your toddler help clean up the mess) and reiterate the rules. It helps to set some clear ground rules (for instance, no balls in the house, or no throwing things at people) and enforce them. If you react consistently, your child will learn what’s appropriate. It may take some time (we’re talking years, so stick with it!), but your child will eventually get it.
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