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How can I get my toddler to stop throwing things when he is angry?

I don't know where he learned this behavior. My husband and I don't throw things. Is it normal? I worry he may have anger issues! We have tried popping his hands, talking, and time out. Nothing has even come close to being effective.

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Asked by LukesMommy111 at 2:02 PM on Jul. 31, 2012 in Toddlers (1-2)

Level 3 (25 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Take the toy and give it a time out. It needs to be gone for about 24 hours. I have had to do this. I have had to do this many times. It is normal at this age for them to vent their frustration in this way b/c they don't have the vocabulary to do it.

    Answer by coala at 2:09 PM on Jul. 31, 2012

  • Time outs

    Answer by mommys2cupcakes at 2:15 PM on Jul. 31, 2012

  • Either only let him play with soft toys or every time he throws something, take it away & tell him the "Garbage Man can have it now" & that you are throwing it away & hide it.. It's just his way of asserting himself. Pretty normal for toddlers.


    Answer by ILovemyPaulie at 2:26 PM on Jul. 31, 2012

  • You can help him stop this through a combination of physical & emotional containment.
    Take your first observation (he throws things when he's angry) and drop the goal of "punishing the behavior." You know why it's happening: he's angry & emotionally overcome. The throwing will stop when he has another means of expressing these feelings, AND when he feels understood/accepted. You can provide the understanding & acceptance, and you model other forms of emotional expression with your response to him. That takes care of the emotional containment part.
    In contrast, when you punish him (focusing on trying to stop the throwing) you aren't giving him any information about what TO do when he feels that way! And by resisting his expression as wrong/bad/punishable, you are conveying no acceptance for the feelings it expresses.
    The physical part is intervening: getting close & physically preventing the action, but in a non-punitive way.

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:15 AM on Aug. 1, 2012

  • Think of it as the protective use of force. You're keeping him safe by preventing an impulsive behavior that potentially causes damage (it endangers people or property.) You can restrain a child lovingly, without anger, annoyance or intent to punish. The goal is protection & prevention. A very young child who's overwhelmed & physically impulsive needs the physical containment (not a verbal instruction of Don't, Stop, or No.) If you are physically preventing him from throwing the toy/cup/shoe, then your words can be focused exclusively on acknowledging the situation & his feelings: "You didn't LIKE that!" or "You didn't WANT mama to say that!" Just convey understanding for the FEELING as you prevent the physical EXPRESSION of his anger/frustration. Don't bother instructing him NOT to throw; focus on the empathy for him. By "translating" his very primitive communication into words like this, you're modeling the verbal expression

    Answer by girlwithC at 10:39 AM on Aug. 1, 2012

  • It's not a learned behavior and it's not an anger issue. It's called being 2 and lacking the emotional IQ to identify the emotion or to understand what to do with it.

    As girlwithC said, your first step is to help give him the vocabulary to express himself. When toddlers tantrum, it's a bubbling over a frustration with no outlet for it. First step is to calmly as possible say to him "I know you're frustrated." or "I know you're angry." or whatever the emotion is. Then clearly tell him what response is not acceptable and give him an alternative. When he's getting angry, remove the item. Calmly label his feelings and give him an acceptable outlet.

    Answer by ldmrmom at 11:46 AM on Aug. 1, 2012

  • (whoops, had to leave my post before. Anyway--)
    By "translating" his very primitive communication into these words, you are modeling the verbal expression you want from him at such times.
    Focusing solely on helping children feel "felt" addresses many behavioral issues because feeling "felt" soothes rather than escalates upsets. You can be sure that a young child who is throwing things when angry is highly stressed. This state of physiological arousal results in neurological & hormonal changes.When a system is flooded with cortisol, the brain "down-shifts" from the higher region (the cerebral cortex: governing thinking, reasoning, impulse control & choice) to the lower regions (the limbic system & brainstem: governing emotions & the basic survival instincts of fight/flight/freeze.) Connecting soothes the stress state (through feeling "felt" or understood) & brings the higher region back online.
    Prioritize showing understanding!

    Answer by girlwithC at 2:50 PM on Aug. 1, 2012

  • keeping him safe by preventing an impulsive behavior that potentially causes damage

    Answer by GlitteribonMom at 7:17 PM on Aug. 5, 2012

  • We've used a combination of The PP's ideas. If he's angry, we take the object away for a while and have a chat, helping DS find words or alternatives to express himself. Sometimes he's frustrated or just being petulant. If he throws things while looking at me or DH, like he knows he's doing something naughty, he gets a Time Out and the toy disappears for a week or two.

    Answer by Reenieredhead at 6:50 PM on Sep. 23, 2012

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