HELP! MY TODDLER IS THROWING EVERYTHING! WHAT DO I DO?

Pablo’s been in a throwing and dumping stage lately, and if I may be honest, while yes, it could be tiring to keep picking things up that he throws (especially in our stairs, haha), it has also been a fascinating stage for me as an observer.

First things first…why do toddlers throw and dump things?!?

My fellow Montessori parent Nicole Kavanaugh wrote a short but informative piece HERE. You may head on to her post and take note of the possible reasons why your child is throwing and dumping.

From there, I highly suggest observing your child to see which ones encourage your child to do some throwing and dumping.

In our case, I feel these are the specific reasons why my son has been throwing and dumping:

1. He’s learning new thingsAs Child Psychologist Penelope Leach said, “Throwing things is a new and enjoyable skill for many children this age. It takes fine motor skills to open the fingers and let go of an object and considerable hand-eye coordination to actually throw it. No wonder she wants to practice this exciting skill once she’s mastered it! What happens next is endlessly educational, too: Your toddler discovers that whatever she throws falls down — never up. She can’t say “gravity,” of course, but she can certainly observe its effects.” Aside from gravity, my child is also observing cause and effect. If he throws something, it falls down, and not only that – they can fall in different speeds and sound differently, too. He also learns that how he throws can change the speed of the object’s fall. These are just some things your child learns through experience, but there’s a lot more going on in our child’s brain, so I’m sure there are other things they learn from doing things.

throwing a soft block
and watching it fall
also learning that the bigger soft blocks won’t fit the gate – so he found another way to throw it

2. He’s in the Maximum Effort stageHe has been for a while, and I think this won’t go away soon. He’s really been into challenging himself into carrying things including heavy ones, and letting go of them.

3. Sensitive Period For OrderThis was not mentioned in the article I directed you to, but from my personal observation of my son, I have found that throwing and dumping is actually part of his work cycle for many of the things he throws and dumps. I will expound on this topic in a separate post, but seriously, it has been a thrill for me to watch how throwing and dumping helps develop his sense of order. [EDIT: post on his sensitive period for order is now up. read HERE]

I feel you, fellow parent! It can feel so frustrating to keep getting what your toddler is throwing, but like they say, If you cannot beat them, join them!

Here are a few tips on how you can deal with this stage without losing your cool!

1. OBSERVE YOUR CHILD
This is probably the most basic step you can do, so you can have ideas why your child is throwing and dumping. Is your child bored with the materials? Are they too overwhelming? I learned from my son that presenting too many pieces (even if they’re all the same, say, all blocks, or all pegs) can really result to throwing. You know how he loves his posting work cans, right? He loves it so much that at one point, I felt like having only 5 pegs out was too little. So I increased the number. Up to 10 or 12, he was still working on it. But as I increased more than that number, he just lost interest and started throwing. Less is really more. Also, it’s through observation (and that self-control to not say nor do anything while he’s throwing) that made me witness his work cycle, and his growing sense of order! Throwing and dumping, as Nicole have mentioned in her blog, is encouraged by different things or situations, so the only way you can find out why your child is throwing is if you actually take time to watch and observe your child.

2. PROVIDE ITEMS THAT ARE SAFE TO THROW

You can’t stop your child from his/her natural urge to throw, but you can work your way around it by choosing what s/he can throw. In our case, it’s our soft blocks! You may also use small bean bags, balls, or small pillows (take a look at your house and see which objects may be used for throwing).

Now, where you place those safe items for throwing also matters.

By observing my son, I learned that he likes throwing things from two places best: by the stairs and his wagon. I really put soft blocks in his wagon ever since we got it (in preparation for his throwing stage, actually), and it worked. This was his first area for throwing (and putting back).

six soft blocks in his wagon

After a while, he discovered how much more fun it is to throw things down to our ground floor. I mean, such great height, right?:D

So I started putting a basket of soft blocks beside the stairs. Again, it works for us. He ends up throwing these most of the time. Of course, he throws other things, too (that’s part of his learning), but the inviting location of these blocks increases the chance of him focusing on these blocks instead.

3. REMOVE ITEMS THAT ARE NOT SAFE TO THROW

Do you have vases within your child’s reach? Bottles? Glasses? Items heavy enough to hurt someone should your child throw it? The best way to avoid any accidents that could hurt your child or others is to remove unsafe items within his reach. This way, no scolding is needed – as you have already prepared your environment.

4. PROVIDE AVENUES FOR THROWING

I mentioned that Pablo likes throwing most by the stairs, but just to possibly redirect him, I put some items nearby to help him go through his throwing stage – a small basketball ring and a scarf hanger from IKEA (hung in a mini-drying rack). These are things we already had at home (the ring was a gift for my nephew which we kept in our attic), so I did not spend extra for this, but I see that it’s working, too. Sometimes, instead of throwing stuff in our stairs, Pablo shoots things in the basketball ring, or balls in the scarf hanger.

5. MODEL, MODEL, MODEL

Children learn through repetition, so just be patient in modeling how things are stored in your home. When your child throws things and you want them to know that those things are not for throwing, just patiently pick it up (with a smile), and show your child where it should be placed.

You can do it like Nicole does: “I see you dumped the basket of blocks. When we aren’t building, the blocks stay in the basket. Let’s put them away!”

Or, you can redirect and offer your child something else:

“I see you’re having fun throwing the blocks. Here is the basket for it, can you throw them here instead?”

You can also do some sort of collaboration: “I see the blocks are downstairs. Would you like to help Mama/Papa pick them up and return them in the basket?”

Personally, I hardly do this at this stage, because I’m really observing what he’ll do after he throws. But these will do wonders, too, I think (especially when done in repetition).

***

PS: Just want to share, make sure you that before you throw your trash, check them well. Our cleaner told me a few days ago that she saw a school bus toy and (2) books in the trash can, so she asked me if I was letting them go already. I laughed the moment I realized it was Pablo who put them in the bin. Hahaha. Also, we’ve been missing our cordless phone for like 3 days now, and I honestly don’t know where Pablo put it. I have looked at our trash cans and my boots (where he usually puts stuff, too), but it’s not there. Wish me luck. I’m laughing so hard while typing this.

PPS: You know what’s amazing, though? It seems children also know where they throw things. One time, Pablo threw his Papa’s phone in the middle of one huuuuge mess. We were fixing our things for selling and they were all on the floor, and we really couldn’t find the phone. When my husband asked Pablo where the phone was, he just went back to where he dumped it and gave it to my husband. Haha. I have to keep asking him where he kept our cordless then. LOL.

Hope this blogpost helped you. If you have other suggestions on how to treat the throwing stage positively, please write a comment – we’d all love to learn more!

 

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3 Comments

  1. Thank you for writing this article I am always reading your post here and Ig! Learned a lot from you ☺️and where did you bought those soft blocks?

    1. Hi Maria. My niece made them. We’re supposed to make some for selling, but she’s too busy to make. 🙁 Cloth or rubber balls will also work perfectly for this purpose. Or empty plastic bottles. 🙂

  2. My son loves to throw things too. Often times, he would throw utensils on our trash can. He also like to hide things that are to hard to find like his dad’s remote control. It went missing for almost a week and suddenly appeared one day while he was playing.

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