Can't cope with my toddler throwing food.(35 Posts)
I need some advice to deal with my son (20 months) who won't stop throwing his dinner on the floor because I'm about to crack up.
When he had his cereal in the morning he will cost his spoon in the cereal and then throw his spoon on the floor. He does this with every clean spoon I give him thereafter. He then picks up his bowl of cereal and throws that on the floor. I tell him off each time he does it, he knows he shouldn't do it, but it's like he enjoys just winding me up.
When it comes to his lunch (sandwiches with various different fruits) he barely eats any of it because piece by piece he just throws it on the floor. He will pick up one of his sandwiches, throw it and then laugh. He then picks up another sandwich, raises his arm, pauses whilst grinning at me, I firmly tell him no and he proceeds to throw it anyway. This lunch time had been his worst yet as all 8 of his sandwich fingers have been thrown. Sometimes he will throw them slowly and one at s time and other times he will scoop them all up in his hands and throw them all onto the floor in one go.
I tell him off, he can see I'm angry, but he just laughs the entire time.
So he basically doesn't have any lunch because even if I were to make him some more he then just throws that on the floor too.
He's currently sitting in his high chair with an empty tray, blowing raspberries sync laughing. I can't bring myself to look at him really because seeing him laughing about the whole thing just makes me feel angry.
Has anyone else dealt with this? Over the last few weeks it's been getting worse and worse and he knows exactly what he's doing. It like he's purposefully trying to upset and frustrate me
I just don't know what to do (
That sounds really tough and I'm not sure what to suggest other than you need to make a change. Put a towel on the floor and have a carpet picnic? have you tried completely ignoring the throwing? Maybe try sitting him down, talking about something else, and if he throws his food, get him up and carry on the day without mention.
When DD was this age we always put a plastic wipeable sheet under her high chair. Something like a shower curtain would work. Always made sure it was clean before each meal and then at least when food is thrown or dropped you can just pick it up and give it back to them rather having to make more food. And it will pass, I promise!
Dd used to do this.
I used to shout at her, take the food away and take her out the highchair.
Telling her off was a waste of time, i had to shout at her.
Been through this and come out the other side (DD is 2). In the end I gave one warning when the first piece of food was given and after that I took it away. If it's sandwiches, try again an hour later. Lots of talking, eg "I see you're throwing your food away because you're not hungry. I'm going to take it away now and we'll try again later". Your child will not starve himself. My DD learned very quickly.
Good luck, whatever you do.
Is he in childcare? I suspect he doesn't do it there! Worth asking how they would manage it.
Maybe he's just not hungry?
Are you sitting and eating with him?
My toddler eats best when we are sat at the table, eating as well and chatting amongst ourselves, including her, but not solely focussing on her if you see what I mean.
I have heard that whilst toddlers can be very picky on some days over the course of a few days they are pretty good at getting in what they need.
I know it's frustrating but please take a step back and try not to get wound up. He is getting a reaction from you. Try not to give him one.
Are you eating at the table with him? If you aren't this behaviour may be down to him trying to get your attention. I find with mine it's important to show them what normal behaviour is at the table.
Try giving him a little bit of food at a time. Not a whole plate/bowlful. If it goes on the floor give him a second chance. Once that goes on the floor no more food. Everyone else should carry on eating and ignore this behaviour. Try again at next meal. Reward/praise him when he eats the food you give him.
Also maybe try offering him a choice, eg "do you want cereal or toast"? "Apple or banana" and so on.
He won't be deliberately trying to annoy you, he will be trying to exert some control and offering choices is one way to give him some control.
I wish I'd know that my dc wasn't deliberately trying to piss me off by doing things like that when dc was that age. It's really hard because you think that they should care about your feelings and want to please you, but really they have no understanding of that and just like a dramatic reaction.
Second what others have said - on the 3-day nanny programme she had a family with two little girls who constantly threw their food on the floor. They were doing it for attention, and once they all sat down at the table and ate together as a family, talking about their day or whatever, the throwing stopped. Might be worth trying if you don't do it already.
I had this to a certain extent with ds when he was 1ish.
I started only giving him small amounts of meals at a time, and because he was actually hungry he would eat it rather than throw. Then he'd get more once he'd finished the first lot etc. I kept it like that for quite a number of months because like you the food throwing pushed waaaaay too many of my buttons to be tolerated.
Like pp ds still now (22 months) will do things to get my attention while he's eating, so I either eat with him or at least sit with him while he's eating. That helps hugely.
Although I know it's really difficult I would stop giving him a reaction because like you say, unfortunately he is trying to wind you up. Not with a malign intent of course but he's amused/interested in your reaction. Also if I shout at my ds it makes him defiant and we're into a hiding to nothing. If I was you I would stay as calm as you possibly can and ignore what he's doing/take away the food if he won't stop.
If ds does accidentally drop food on the floor I leave it until he's finished his meal, as even now, me picking up food he's dropped puts the devil in him and then he starts doing it on purpose
So my advice is small portions, ignore what behaviour you can to make it stop being interesting to him, sit with him if you're not already, and don't pick up any food off floor until he's finished so you're not inviting some sort of hellish baked-beans-in-hair game.
DS is also 20 months and started doing this again (he did it for a while when he was around 13mo, but stopped). He doesn't ever do it at breakfast time, weirdly (I think he's too hungry!).
It was a hilarious game for him, and very frustrating for me & DP - however last week we moved him to sit on a booster with us at the table and he has hardly thrown anything since. (he does beg from our plates though, instead, but that's more manageable and less enraging).
My 15mo can sometimes be like this. When she is I just give one bit of food at a time. If it goes on the floor then I just explain that we don't throw food. I try with something else and again if that goes on the floor then i know she's not interested/hungry and let her out of high chair. It's the only way to prevent it all getting mushed up and chucked. It is definitely a game for them because she will watch the food drop over the sides and laugh.
Thank you so much for all these replies, they have all been so very helpful and have given me lots to think about.
We don't have a dining table unfortunately so DS is in his high chair in the living room and I'm on the sofa. I always eat at the same time with him though.
We have recently bought him a little kiddie sized table with s chair, maybe I could just sit him there for his meals and see if that makes a difference? I imagine though I will just be creating another game of trying to stop him constantly leaving his chair though.
I'm definitely going to take on board the idea of not reacting to him and to not pick up the foodas soon as he has thrown it. I will just ignore it.
It feels so relieving to know others have gone through this phase too
It's frustrating as adults because there's so much significance around food and shame in being wasteful whereas toddlers just see another opportunity for messy play.
My slightly older sits on a chair with us at the table to eat, I give him his food in stages so he can't ruin a whole meal in one go and if that all fails and he hasn't eaten any of it, I put him in front of cbeebies and shovel it in while he's distracted <bad mum>
Hang on, they get easier and more compliant as they get even a bit older. My older children went through this stage and it passes quickly and you forget it was ever a problem.
... my slightly older (21 mo) toddler...
My almost 19 month old is a thrower too! But only when he thinks he doesn't like/want something. So this could be as simple as picking the satsuma segments out of his bowl of fruit last night and chucking those on the floor (complete with dirty look for me at not knowing that they are clearly offensive on Tuesdays!) Or as bad as throwing his whole bowl of chicken fried rice on the floor on Monday! (Usually eats this fine as its quite a regular after roast chicken Sunday dinner but not this week!)
He also does it when he's had enough, which isn't too bad as his plate is usually empty.
With the fruit it makes sense to remove the whole bowl and he gets upset as he wanted the rest, but with the other situations it makes no difference as he doesn't want it anyway or is finished.
So no help or answers -but feel your pain!
Dd 19mo tends to throw when she's not interested any more so I take it away and offer again later. I have had to decide on suitable snacks that are sufficiently boring, usually plain yoghurt or milk, as she'll want something else later rather than eating the original dinner.
As an update: he didn't throw any of his evening meal on the floor, probably because he was so hungry from having had no lunch.
Breakfast this morning wasn't so successful. He had a few spoonfuls of his weetabix and then just started messing around with it, putting his fingers in it, putting his water bottle in the bowl and rolling it about amongst the weetabix until he finally just upturned the bowl on his tray. I didn't react to any of this. I took away his bowl and offered him his bowl of yogurt which he has every breakfast and after a few spoonfuls he started messing around again until he ultimately threw the bowl on the floor causing yogurt to go everywhere. I could see him out the corner of my eye and he kept looking at me but I did as you advised and just ignored it. He then picked up the insert of his high chair tray, which was covered in yogurt, and proceeded to throw that on the floor too sending more yogurt everywhere. I completely ignored it and didn't even look at him.
I waited for 5 minutes, leaving him in his high chair, and then, without making a big deal out of it knelt down to clear up the mess. I could sense him looking down on me but I continued to not engage with him.
Once I tidied away all the mess I calmly took him out his high chair and just popped him on the floor so he could go off and play.
I'm hoping this means he will be hungry at lunch
Well done, I bet that took a lot of teeth-gritting! Glad it's getting better.
When my DD did this (it was hurling at wall stuff as well) I just said "oh, you're not hungry? Ok, let's finish lunch" (or dinner) and take away all the food then and there and put it in the kitchen and got her down from the chair.
What I didn't do was pick up stuff she's thrown and give it back to her - because she thought that was a game.
Another thing is says "are you ready for food yet?" and not just pick up and dump them in the high chair. DD responded to this and would say "food" once I'd said "food will soon be ready, say when you are hungry".
Well done! That is superhuman willpower to ignore a yoghurt chuck about <shudders in solidarity>
My youngest is the same age and I've not tolerated any of them playing with food - eat it or not but if they are messing about then they obviously don't want it and I'd take it away.
I had a thrower, but he would launch it rather than throw it on the floor. It ended up all over us, over the walls, on the window. It used to drive me insane.
I then used to just say 'no' short and sharp, no need for any other words as all they will head is 'blah blah blah throw food blah blah blah'. I would then just remove him from the table. He found it hilarious and didn't help that his siblings did too.
He's stopped now, a 18 months after it began. He's a truly shit eater and I don't sweat it, he'll eat when he's hungry and I've given up trying to force him.
You have my sympathies though, it's very stressful and frustrating.
Throwing food is good for development: they're experimenting with textures and volumes etc. Plenty of time to learn table manners.
Also, as a PP said, look at what he eats over the course of a week. He'll definitely be getting enough.
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