Do things on purpose

My child throws objects

Infant . Parenting. KleinkindOn May 24th, 2020 by anna

Helene * writes to me: “My son, who is almost two years old, throws objects when he doesn't have our full attention. How can I stop him from doing that? "

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Thank you for your trust!

Dear Anna,

My son is now 21 months old and has been throwing objects very often in the past few weeks. Often after me too. Usually this reaction results from the fact that I am not playing with him fully concentrated, but for example sitting on the sofa while he plays on the floor, or that I talk to his dad, e.g. while eating at the table.

At the table, when he is no longer very hungry and we are talking (in English as our common language - we speak our mother tongue with our son), he throws plates, cups, cutlery and food down. Here, it totally triggers me that things naturally break (I don't like plastic dishes very much and I appreciate the value of things) and that it is of course a lot of work for me to clean it up again.

When playing, if I don't react to everything that happens, he first throws something at me and when I say that I don't want that and it hurts me, he gets really angry (probably at himself) and throws wooden blocks, cars , Baskets at me or throw things like the guitar or my phone on the floor. Here triggers me that it hurts of course. Once I got a blue and bleeding eye.

He is a very happy boy, likes to sing, likes to run and loves balls. He is totally related to me, even though Dad is at home all day and due to the current situation even has no more work.

This situation with being thrown down really takes me away because I'm always in an alarm position and lately I've been holding onto my arm and sometimes reacting to ranting. But I don't want that at all.

I hope that you may have an idea how we can defuse such situations.

best regards

Helene *

Hello Helene *,

Thank you for your trust! I don't know exactly whether the time around 20 months could be a kind of "sensitive phase" for throwing (according to Montessori), but maybe it will reassure you to know that throw many children your son's age with things. You are currently experiencing that his impulse control is not yet fully developed and that it complements this throwing phase very unfavorably.

We have already had similar phases in which it then helped to offer the respective activity again separately. Then we could show the children what is okay to throw (pillows, soft balls ...). It usually works better for children to show them what they can do instead of forbidding what they shouldn't do.

Then it seems to have something to do with your attention. And of course you don't have to deal with him 24/7, you can also expect him to do something himself (which children of this age can only do for about 20 minutes at a time). It will probably work better if you first fill up his "relationship tank" and then let him occupy himself. So: play along first, then pull out slowly. Perhaps then you are not "allowed" to leave the room (that will come soon!), But you can at least withdraw a little and just watch him.

Throwing things at you when he's bored and wants a reaction from you is obviously not okay, but he doesn't mean to seriously hurt you with it. He just doesn't know how to deal with these feelings yet. But you can help him with that. For one, I think it's really important that you protect yourself. Get up, take a few steps back, say stop. Then you can reflect his feelings, something like this: “Wow, you're really angry!” (Adjust the tone to match his feelings. “You want me to play! You want to play!” I don't know how far yours Son is linguistically, it can be a little delayed if he grows up trilingual we introduce signs for some words that he can imitate more easily. In the one for "playing" you move your open hands up and down in front of your body (you can see it here).

It is incredibly frustrating not only to be "ignored", but also not to be able to express yourself properly. And then you can think about whether you should play along for a few more minutes, or whether you need a break now. Both are okay, you can communicate both, but that doesn't mean your son will find both good. Maybe he's screaming, maybe he's throwing things. Protect yourself, mirror the feelings, show him alternatives “Stop, this is tough and it hurts! If you're angry, you can throw the ball on the floor here, that's how it works! ”. Maybe you want to make a rage ball like that? He has a lot of energy right now and he wants to get rid of it, but he mustn't hurt you. But it will take a little more time to learn impulse control. The best thing you can do is to accompany him very clearly but empathically in his feelings (with "mirroring", with alternatives to express his anger ..).

When eating, throwing dishes down is not an alternative, even plastic dishes will not solve your problem, but at most make it a little more bearable to wait until this phase is over (because it is a phase, my seven-year-old no longer throws objects;) ). Most children do not throw anything down until they are no longer hungry. We then introduced the sign “finished” (hold both hands horizontally one above the other in front of the body and move them outwards, here you can see them pictorially) and then put away the dishes.

I don't know how it is with you, but with us the children are allowed to get up when they have finished eating. We always try to end destructive situations in a friendly manner ("Oh, have you already finished eating? Then I'll be happy to put your dishes away."). If something lands on the floor, children at that age can participate themselves. Maybe you want to buy a small broom and a small dustpan? And you can accompany that too, instead of scolding, because it is not meant to be evil. ("Look, the cucumbers landed on the floor! Quick, sweep them up!"). He'll probably even do it without any problems (the fact that children don't feel like it anymore usually comes a little later, but then it gets funny again;)). It's not about throwing it down, it's about being frustrated and not yet able to express it properly.

So specifically I would advise you:
Think about what kind of demands you can make of him. Small children cannot keep themselves busy for long and usually find it boring to stay at the table when they are already full. Try to understand and recognize the need behind the behavior. He doesn't want to tease you or hurt you, but maybe he needs you a little more right now. It's exhausting, so take turns so that both of you have enough breaks. Help him to express himself: Use language to reflect his feelings and, if necessary, introduce signs. End the situation in a friendly but firm manner, preferably before the dishes hit the floor / he has thrown something at you. And help him make it up to you (e.g. he can get you an ice pack if he has hurt you or wipe the food off the floor).

I hope this helps you a bit!

Best regards,


Tags:needs-oriented, impulse control, throwing