Sometimes toddlers throw food they don't like.

Discipline for a Toddler Who Throws Food

by Eliza Martinez

Does mealtime at your house usually result in new wall decor made up of your toddler's food? Toddlers love to see what happens if say, they throw spaghetti at the dog. Do you get angry or do you try to hide your laughter? Either way, food throwing isn't socially acceptable behavior, and you will want to stop it before he gets older. Don't despair if your discipline techniques fail at first. Just keep trying.

Remove Him

If your toddler has eaten part of his meal and seems full or bored, throwing food may be his next step for keeping himself entertained while you finish. When the food starts flying, simply take your toddler out of his high chair and remove him from the kitchen. If you are still hungry and want to finish your meal, allow your toddler to play nearby with toys or books designated for mealtime. You'll probably still have to get up and bring him back where you can watch him, but at least you can finish your meal and you won't have walls and floors to clean afterward.

Take His Plate

To your toddler, throwing food is just another way he plays. You don't want to rein in his sense of creativity and adventure, but you probably don't want to clean mashed potatoes off the curtains after dinner either. If your toddler hurls his sandwich, take his plate and put it out of his reach. Whether he really wanted the food or not, he is likely to scream. Tell him that he can have his plate back when he is ready to eat, because food isn't for throwing. Return his plate, but don't hold your breath because he is probably going to immediately throw more food. Keep taking his plate until he learns the lesson.

Offer Reminders

Toddlers are small, but they have a special ability to make you extremely angry. Yelling might get his attention, but it will leave you both feeling bad afterward. Instead, gently remind your toddler what you want him to do. If he throws his banana at the window, tell him, "Food is for eating." If he continues to throw his meal, he might be finished eating. In this case, satisfy his need to throw by letting him toss his leftovers into the trash. If he knows there is an appropriate method for throwing unwanted food, he may be able to better refrain from tossing it around the kitchen... sometimes.

Help Him Clean It Up

The natural consequence for making a mess is cleaning it up. At least it is for you. Toddlers couldn't care less about a heap of macaroni and cheese sitting in a lump on the floor. It has the potential for a great snack later! However, your toddler might start making the connection if you require him to clean up any food he throws at mealtime. Now, don't expect the job to be perfect because it won't be. But, it will teach your toddler that if he chooses to toss his chicken on the floor, he is going to have to pick it up and put it in the trash. Likewise, if your toddler decides yogurt makes a better wall hanging than a meal, give him a wipe or napkin and have him wipe it up.

About the Author

Eliza Martinez has written for print and online publications. She covers a variety of topics, including parenting, nutrition, mental health, gardening, food and crafts. Martinez holds a master's degree in psychology.

Photo Credits

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