Food, comforter, towels… Projectiles vary depending on what our child has on hand.
But why does he have the annoying habit of throwing everything away? Is it provocation, impulsiveness, play? Explanations with Florence Millot, child psychologist.
Why does the baby throw everything away?
When your baby throws something away, the explanation varies depending on the intention. But to figure it out, it’s usually just a matter of looking at your child’s face and attitude.
Does he laugh, seem to enjoy it, or on the contrary, is he angry or crying? Throwing everything on the floor is also a fun game for most children.
From 9 months onwards, when your baby throws away his teddy bear and does so with a radiant smile, or even laughs when you pick him up (already thinking about his next throw), this action simply brings him joy.
He likes to play with you. “The father doesn’t necessarily understand it because every time he picks it up, the child throws it away again” analyses Florence Millot, child psychologist and author of “One problem, 7 solutions: My child doesn’t obey” (Hachette Famille).
The reel game
A process that the psychoanalyst Freud called in 1920 the “game of the reel” (or Fort-Da’s experiment). He had noticed that his one and a half year old grandson, who had a coil of wire, liked to throw it and make it come back by pulling the wire.
“A joyful and repetitive process for the child who feels that he has mastered his world, that he has power over things or over his parents every time the object he has just thrown is returned to him” deciphers Florence Millot.
A way of controlling when his mother leaves and when she returns, of taming him, which is usually passive in the situation, not knowing when his father or mother will reappear and take care of him. With the throwing of the cuddly toy, he decides the moment.
Finally, when the child drops anything he or she grabs – cotton balls, wipes – from the changing table, it is simply a reflex to grab and manipulate the objects within reach.
This usually results in an involuntary fall, the baby is simply clumsy and when he drops the object (which he never keeps for long), he falls.
Until what age does the baby throw everything on the floor?
When a child inadvertently drops objects after they are no longer of interest, this usually happens between 6 and 12 months of age.
From 10 to 12 months of age, the child will start introducing the teddy bear, pacifier, and toy to the parent and stop throwing everything on the floor around 24 months of age.
The food can be thrown away for a few more months, but it usually stops for about 2 and a half years.
Finally, when the throwing of objects is the result of impulsive behavior by the child who finds no other way to express his or her anger, it usually stops around age 4.
Why is my baby throwing her food on the floor
When a child learns to eat alone, about 1 1/2 years, he will often start throwing away his food. The mash and spoon fly in fireworks for the greatest happiness of your cherub, the angels.
This is a time when your baby also likes to take off her diaper before throwing it in the air.
“It’s an age when parents start teaching their children to be clean, while they love to play with dirty things, put their hands on them, spread them out... putting them everywhere gives them real joy,” says the psychologist. And all you have to do is look at their funny little face to see it for yourself.
According to Florence Millot, this pleasure of shooting is in fact the result of an archaic reflex. An attitude that we maintain in adulthood through the throwing of confetti, which is always associated with a festive event.
Baby throws his stuffed animal out of bed
Does your child throw her stuffed animal or pacifier out of bed after you say “good night” and is about to leave her room? Maybe he’s just trying to hold you back and this is the way he’s found to do it.
“This technique is effective because the parent feels trapped, forced to play, especially if the child needs the stuffed animal next to him to fall asleep,” says Florence Millot.
The baby throws it all away: is it to express his anger?
The plane can also translate another archaic gesture induced by anger. But if we have learned, as adults, to control our emotions and dialogue, we have all (almost) slammed the door or thrown a pen on the ground in anger.
“The child acts impulsively and often lacks the words to express it, thinking that by throwing an object, his anger will disappear with it, as if by magic,” explains the psychologist.
Sometimes he will also throw his stuffed animal or doll on the floor to show his discontent or jealousy towards his little brother, for example, in an attempt to get rid of him, to keep him away.
How do we get him to understand that he shouldn’t throw it away?
When your child throws something away because he is angry, you can explain that you understand his anger and his need to express it, but that not everything and nothing is thrown away.
Especially when the object is fragile or dangerous. As an alternative, you can take him a small basket in which you have put a few pairs of socks and let him throw them away as much as he wants. And why not do it with him? His crying should turn into laughter more quickly.
Does he throw to try to keep you by his side at bedtime?
If you’ve already returned your pacifier and warned him that if he continues, it’s up to him to pick it up, he should end up doing it on his own, silly and crazy.
If he can’t, while he’s in his crib, warn him that you won’t be picking him up anymore and leave his room for a while. Then he’ll understand that if he does it again, he’ll have to wait to pick it up.
To avoid this type of attack, there is also a trick: hooking pacifiers, or even your stuffed animal to the bars of the bed.
In the case of food, explain calmly that it should not be thrown away.
Florence Millot’s advice: limit the amount on your plate to a small mashed potato and serve it on the go.
This will reduce the damage and irritation it can cause. Still standing? Return the spoon or put the plate away so that you understand that your action has had a consequence: you can no longer eat alone.
After a few bites, you can return them. The idea: establish a mini trust contract warning him that if he does it again, we will get them back.
If you really feel tense about mash, why not invest in a bottle and a spoon? Pour the puree into the bottle and squeeze the container to fill your spoon which you can then eat cleanly as a large one.
At the same time, to satisfy your need to manipulate, do not hesitate to propose activities around modelling clay or painting, this will also allow you to better distinguish between playtime and lunchtime.
Then you can devote yourself to your favorite activity as you please! Just bring a waxed tablecloth and an apron for the activities subject to artistic outbursts. “You have to understand that all young children do it at a certain time in their lives and without any desire to bother you,” concludes the child psychologist. It’s just a phase, messy or exhausting at times, but innocent… and fleeting!