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14 month old throwing everything!

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Dear Dr. Laura,
Looking for some help, please! We are struggling to find a mid-road strategy for food throwing. My DS started at around 14 months to love throwing anything and especially food. He is now two and it's still on-going. We tell him what can be thrown (soft toys, balls) and what can't (hard thing, food). We bought a ball pit to practice throwing things that CAN be thrown and we refer to it when something that shouldn't be thrown has been but he just covers his eyes ("You can't see me!") and runs away. He finishes every meal by throwing it (unless we intercept which we try to by sitting with him and waiting until he's finished). At lunch he got very cranky with me for taking away the grated cheese he was about to swipe onto the floor and saying "I can't allow you to do that!". Our "strategy" is clearly not working and I'm just not sure what will. The food is incredibly messy (porridge, eggs, etc) and he loves to throw things like the mouse for the computer, etc and sometimes he pegs things at his sister. Mostly he finds it amusing and doesn't realise that it can be dangerous or harmful (although we tell him). His language skills aren't quite there yet so I don't think he understands complex concepts like that. He definitely knows what not to throw, though! Any ideas? 

Thank you!!


Dear Sarah,
I laughed out loud when I read your letter. What a wonderful boy you have there. Toddlers love to throw. They throw when they're happy. They throw when they're mad. They throw when they finish their food. And if you take his grated cheese away when he's about to throw it, naturally he will get cranky with you. Honestly, you are doing most of what I would recommend, meaning sitting next to him and taking the food away before he throws it, and letting him throw things that can be thrown in a ball pit. I would also be sure that every day he gets lots of throwing time. Throw balls outside. Throw stuffed animals over the bannister inside. Throw constantly. (He is probably going to be a major league pitcher or a physicist.) When he is done with this stage, he will think of something equally frustrating for you, like pouring out the dog's water or sticking knives in the electric sockets. That's his job. 

But the big question is, will you have stayed patient enough with him that he is open to your influence? He is understanding more every day. Keep setting limits--it's okay for him to get mad or to cry. Keep empathizing- I know you love to throw. Keep explaining- OUCH! Remotes are not for throwing. Keep moving things out of his reach. It will get better. And try to get some of this on film. It will be priceless someday.

Good luck!
Dr. Laura

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