Written By: Psychologist Natasha Tanic
Your 18-month old is not a baby anymore. At this stage of his development, that approximately lasts from 18 months to 4 years, your child becomes a toddler.
Toddlers rapidly develop and bravely reach their milestones (things that most children their age can do).
Your toddler becomes steadier on his feet, moves around much more, and shows an increasing desire to explore himself and his surroundings.
Kids at this age show greater independence, imitate the behavior of others, have a rapidly developing vocabulary, form simple phrases and sentences, and follow simple directions and instructions.
However, toddlers also begin to show defiant behavior such as temper tantrums or throwing toys.
Defiant behavior in toddlers comes as a natural consequence of their ability to understand independence and ability to control their environment.
They seek independence, but still lack self-control.
In other words, defiant behavior in toddlers is a normal and developmentally appropriate part of growing up.
Your response to your child’s defiant behavior will teach them how to respect limits and develop self-control.
Where Does Throwing Toys Come From?
Some toddlers are by nature more likely to be defiant than others.
Highly sensitive children (kids whose emotional reactions are intense and overwhelming), as well as kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or those on the autism spectrum usually show more defiant behavior than children who are laid back and flexible.
Highly sensitive children typically tend to struggle with transitions and usually protest during transition times, as these changes can be very stressful for them.
Throwing toys may be one of the behaviors your toddler uses to express her distress.
Toddlers may start throwing toys and other objects because they don’t know how to handle stressful situations.
Or they cannot find words or other constructive ways to communicate their needs and feelings.
For example, your child may start throwing toys when she feels very tense or anxious.
Throwing Toys as Educational Practice
Kids learn through play and exploration. Through play, toddlers experiment with their surroundings, test limits, and learn rules.
Throwing toys is a new skill that kids learn between 18 months and 3 years of age.
To throw a toy, your toddler needs to employ his fine-motor skills (to open the fingers and let go of a toy), as well as his hand-eye coordination (to throw it).
Toys that your child throws fall down or bounce back (like balls).
So, when throwing toys, your toddler is actually learning something new: he is discovering gravity!
What Can You Do About Throwing Toys?
Instead of stopping your toddler from throwing toys, pay attention to objects she throws and where she throws them, so she doesn’t get injured or hurt someone else.
Whether it is an expression of defiance or an attempt to explore and practice their skills, throwing toys is a part of normal development in typically developing toddlers.
While this is a behavior that pushes your buttons, try to stay calm and consistent when managing your child’s challenging behavior.
Remember that young kids learn through play and exploration, and for them, throwing toys is just that – play and fun.