Ask Mrs Manners: Throwing-Obsessed Toddlers

Cynthia Dermody
4

toddlers who throw everything

Photo by jencalkins

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners aka: Angela Pitrie, owner of the CM group Manners for the Modern Family and FamilyMannersMadeFun.com, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners,

My 21 month old daughter throws everything, and I mean everything. I am to the point where I don't even want her to throw a ball (though she does have one heck of a throwing arm). I have tried everything and nothing seems to help. I know some of it is typical toddler stuff, but this has gone beyond typical behavior.-- Nhgirl30

MrsManners says:

All toddlers go through a phase of throwing. It's actually a great sign of development. We are right there with you at my house; our 20 month old is exploring this very topic, and probably even as I type this, something is flying through my living room. 

They are learning how to use their fine motor skills by grabbing an object, picking it up and hurling it. In the process, they are learning about proper order and aiming. Where is that crazy thing I just threw going to land? It's hard to say until you actually try it. 

The temptation to see how gravity works on different objects is overwhelming for them.In fact, it is downright impossible to ignore the desire to try out this plate of food and see what it does when it is thrown. The same could be said for any object -- the texture, the way it falls quickly or slowly, the distance it can be thrown, these are all quite engaging for our toddlers. 

So how do we harness this new found talent for good, without squishing their developmental needs? Repetition is our most irritating and best friend. There is nothing more painful than saying, "We only throw balls, not XYZ, for the 50th time." But this is what it takes to help her understand which items are okay for throwing, and which are not.

When you see your little darling prepping for flight by pulling her arm back with an object that shouldn't be thrown, get her to stop before flight and replace XYZ with a ball. Being firm is key here, you want to redirect to the ball, which is acceptable. If you have the means to, try buying different sized balls and in different textures to make it more fun for her. 

If you are really feeling crafty, here is a fun exercise we practice at my house: We have a front loading washer and dryer, but if you don't have that kind, you will need to hold your toddler up a bit. When you go to take the laundry from the washer and put it in the dryer, let your toddler take some of the smaller items and THROW them into the dryer. This sets a wonderful precedence for helping with the laundry later on. 

You can also ask her to take out the recycling with you. Let her hold the item that is to be placed in the bin (make sure it's not sharp, of course) and toss it. I like to high-five after we make it into the bin, but any other form of positive reinforcement is fine.

Is it possible that your toddler is also throwing in frustration? If so, try to work through what it is that she really needs. Toddlers this age are just getting to a point of learning how to communicate verbally. Some words are there, but most of them are not. She may need or want something and is frustrated that she can't express it to you in a way that you understand. 

I hope that these suggestions will help you to harness the great throwing arm your daughter has. Who knows, she may grow up to do something great with this natural talent. 

Thank you for submitting your questions, please keep them coming, we love to hear from you and I am happy to answer anything involving the toddler realm.

Angela W. Pitre, aka MrsManners

Past Ask Mrs Manners columns:

Are You a Hypocrite?

Pushy Toddlers

Taming the Messy Eater

How to Have Well Behaved Toddlers

My Son Won't Stop Touching Other Moms' Breasts!

Is Shyness Impolite?

Stop Peer Pressure Early


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