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How do I stop my toddler from throwing food?

Toddlers can be incredibly unpredictable, and mealtime is no different.

My 2 year old can go from happily eating to throwing his meal against the wall in about 3 seconds flat.

So what do you do when politely reminding your child that “we don’t throw food” isn’t working?

✨ Before you get to the table, try throwing something acceptable. You can say something like, “I know how much you love to throw at dinnertime, but I can’t let you throw your food. So let’s play a game and throw something together before dinner!”

✨ If you aren’t able to catch the throwing before it starts, step in and set a firm boundary in order to stop the behaviour from continuing. Toddlers don’t have the capacity for impulse control, and this is a case where they’ve shown that the temptation to throw is more than they can handle. Say something like, “I 𝘤𝘢𝘯’𝘵 𝘭𝘦𝘵 𝘺𝘰𝘶 throw your food, so I’m going to take your plate away now. If you’re still hungry, you can have one piece at a time until you can show me that you’re able to stop throwing your food.”

✨ If you’ve set the boundary at a previous meal, you can remind them of the cause and effect before the next meal. Say something like, “Now remember – I can’t let you throw your food at dinner, so if you’re having trouble keeping it on your plate, I’ll give you one piece at a time and we’ll keep trying together.”

✨ If you know your toddler regularly begins tossing food as soon as they slow down, another strategy is to pre-empt them by saying something like, “It looks like you’re finishing up, are you ready for me to move your plate for you?” The biggest predictor of today is what happened yesterday, so it can be helpful to help avoid the issue altogether. This works well with younger children who may have a harder time grasping the boundary mentioned above.

👉🏽 What boundary do you find most difficult to hold with your toddler? Share in the comments below!

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