Q: As I’m doing the dishes, I get nailed in the back of the head with a block. Ouch! I turn around to see the two-year-old unload the entire block bin like missiles flying through my kitchen.
What is with my kid??!! This type of behavior has been going on now for weeks! Even when we are playing on the floor, he will throw toys … laughing and smiling. If he gets mad that he can’t get his way, a toy goes flying. Anything can trigger it! What do I do? Help!
A: We get questions like this all the time. And we are here to help! So, what can you do?
Well, the first thing to figure out is what is the behavior communicating. You’ve already identified one possibility…frustration: “I didn’t get my way!” So, we have to replace the throwing behavior with something more appropriate…how would you like them to express their frustration? Identify the feeling for them. “You are MAD.” Validate how they feel. “You want to play, but it’s time to go. That’s really hard!” Punch a pillow, hammer play-doh, find a way to express it.
Try the IF/THEN technique. This works when they are testing your limits. When your child throws a block down the steps and looks at you. You say “all done throwing blocks” and he does it again. Now what? Go to IF/THEN…”If you throw, then they are all gone”. He throws, and the blocks are taken away. Walk away from the tantrum that will ensue. DO NOT GIVE THE BLOCKS BACK. They made the choice. Will they throw the blocks tomorrow? Maybe, but you stick with the plan. They will stop.
When throwing seems to be the play that they are looking for, find something they CAN throw. With all of this winter, we’ve been stuck in the house. Give them toys that are ok to throw. Balls in a hoop, beanbags in a bucket, stuffed animals in a laundry basket. Show them WHERE to throw it (not at your sister’s forehead)…again, follow through. “You want to throw? Throw THIS in to HERE.” If it backfires, take it away.
Back to the kitchen and the dishes…this behavior is likely for attention. You are not paying attention to me, so POW! How about this? Are they old enough to come in to the kitchen with you? Could they play blocks at the table or on the floor beside you while you talk or listen to music together? Sometimes we forget that baby gates don’t ALWAYS have to stay. Maybe empty a bottom drawer for them to play in with measuring cups (my kids LOVED this!) Are they able to stand on a stool or chair at the sink and “play” a little bit of water? Can they hand you the bowls or cups? Can they put the spoons in the dishwasher rack? Find a way for them to just BE WITH YOU. That’s all they want!
What have you tried to reduce the throwing behaviors that your child displays? Tell us what works! Share your funny stories! We love hearing from you!