Monday, February 14, 2011

Tell Me How... To Get My 10-Month Old to Stop Throwing Food

Ok, so it's not a very "Valentines-y" post, but we could use the advice. Today's question is:
Tell Me How... To Get My 10-Month Old to Stop Throwing Food.

Spencer is 10 months. And he's in a throwing phase (at least I hope it's a phase!!) He throws food, his sippy cup, silverware, toys... pretty much whatever he's holding. He loves throwing his toys and chasing them all over the house. It's not so much a problem with throwing toys and the like... but when we put food in front of him, he chucks it onto the floor. I'd love to make the rule that if you throw food, then you're done eating. But I don't think he's old enough to "get" it yet. Obviously, we're not going to starve him, and he throws food at the very beginning of the meal (not just at the end, to indicate he's done). So tell me how to teach him not to throw food. Is this just a phase? He used to be so good at eating whatever we put in front of him, and now he just throws it. Can he be taught? Do we just need to wait it out?

Advice from all you experienced parents would be much appreciated.


Ben and Jade said...

This is a tough one, mainly because of the age. Hammy is a thrower -- drives me NUTS. But he's old enough that we feel we can take his plate as soon as he throws, try again in an hour and he'll catch on that it's better to eat than to throw. At 10 months? Yeah, I wouldn't know that the message would land/stick.

Maybe you could try limiting his foods to those he can't hold himself for a bit. If Spencer is anything like Hammy, that's punishment in itself -- he ONLY wants to feed himself. But you can hold out a piece of bread or toast that he can bite when he gets hungry enough. He can start out holding it himself, but once he throws it only Mommy holds it. That concept might be easier for him to grasp than just taking the food away.

At least as long as he's getting breastmilk/formula still, he's not going to starve. Good luck with this one. It's soooooo frustrating.

Andrea said...

So I know I'm not a parent but I'm taking an interventions class that deals with these kinds of issues. :) The problem is when Spencer throws food you probably ask him to stop or try and get him to stop by holding his hand, taking the food away etc... You're giving him negative reinforcement. What you're doing isn't positive but it still increases his behavior. The best thing on a simple level to do is ignore the bad behavior completely. Don't touch him, don't say anything, and especially don't look at him. When you see him eating his food correctly then give him positive reinforcement. Look him in the eyes, praise him, and rub his back. In theory this should work with multiple interventions. It may not distinguish the behavior completely, but it should decrease the behavior. :) Once again this is coming from a non-parent.

Brett said...

I agree with Andrea on the positive feedback, though my personal opinion is that a negative response is helpful as well. Both together have proven effective for us.

While he may be a bit young to lose dinner altogether, he should be understanding the basics of cause and effect. When our girls threw food, everything instantly got taken away and their high chair was turned around to give them a short time out. After a few times of this, they catch on pretty quick.

My opinion is also that you don't need to give warnings... you've given plenty of warnings already so any time he throws food the consequence is instant and constant. Making the consequence uncertain has typically resulted in the child pushing to try to find boundaries. Especially at this young age, an instant consequence helps them correlate the action with the reaction rather than just thinking mom and dad are mean.

Liz said...

Sorry I laughed when I saw him do it at dinner but it looked so funny. It literally looked like he was cleaning out his bib. And then dumping it on his head. I like what Muhlestein said. I've heard positive reinforcement works much better. This came from a therapist that was helping a family in New York that we were teaching. But I'm also a non-parent so what do I know? :)

Melvin and Carly said...

I'm not sure I should comment. My first thought was "Smack his hand." See what a great parent I am? Not hard, of course. But since you've obviously already told him not to do it, he knows he shouldn't. And it's just a game for him now. I'm not a big spanker or anything but a light tap on the hand with a stern "no" gets the point across pretty well. Perhaps with a few tears though. And this might be a last resort if all of the other nicer suggestions don't seem to have an effect.