When toddlers throw toys and other items, it can be incredibly frustrating for parents and caregivers. Understanding the reasons for the throwing, as well as giving your toddler toys specifically designed for throwing can help, though.
In this article, you will learn why toddlers throw things, how to get them to stop throwing things, and you will also get some amazing suggestions on throwing toys for toddlers.
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Why is my toddler throwing things?
There are many reasons that a toddler might be throwing their toys instead of playing with them in the intended ways.
As frustrating as this behavior is for caregivers, it's actually developmentally appropriate and completely normal.
As normal as this behavior may be, it's not always desired – or safe. So, it's helpful to understand why children feel the need to throw things.
When you understand the reasons, you can redirect the behavior to something more acceptable.
Below is a list of common reasons that toddlers throw things. If you have concerns about your child throwing things and you suspect developmental or sensory issues, it's always best to bring your concerns to your child's pediatrician.
Toddlers enjoy learning about cause and effect. When it comes to throwing things, there are many opportunities for cause-and-effect learning.
They might enjoy the reaction that throwing a toy causes from a nearby adult. They might also enjoy experimenting with different trajectories or velocities.
Objects look and sound different when thrown at different angles and from different heights.
All of this is very interesting to toddlers, especially when they are in the trajectory schema.
Unmet gross motor needs
Gross motor development is extremely important and toddlers have the innate desire to engage in physical activity.
While throwing things might not seem like a gross motor activity, it is.
Gross motor activities are activities that involve the arms and/or legs and the child's trunk muscles. Activities like running, climbing, swimming, and throwing are all considered gross motor activities.
Toddlers are often unable to communicate their needs effectively. This is because the part of their brain that is responsible for emotional regulation is not anywhere close to being fully developed.
In addition, toddlers lack the language they need to express themselves effectively.
When a young child is in a state of emotional dysregulation, they express themselves in the only ways in which they are able – crying, yelling, hitting, and – throwing.
How to stop a toddler from throwing things – the Montessori way
While throwing things may be developmentally appropriate, sometimes it's dangerous, disruptive, and destructive.
Montessori is all about freedom within limits. This means that, in Montessori homes, we allow children to explore to meet their own developmental needs, but we step in and set limits when the behaviors might damage property or cause someone injury.
When it comes to toddlers throwing things, Montessori parents and caregivers prefer logical consequences over punishment. We do not allow the child to continue the destructive behavior.
We remove the item that's being thrown, comfort the child, then redirect them to an activity that will safely satisfy their need to throw.
When a child is throwing something they should not, here are some steps you can take:
- Explain to the child the proper use of the item and give them an opportunity to use it in a way (however creative) that is not dangerous. (If they do not follow that instruction, move onto the next step.)
- Say, “I can't let you have that if you are going to throw it. You could hurt someone or break something.”
- Remove the item and help them identify and process their emotions.
- Introduce an alternate activity that could meet their need to throw. (See the list of throwing toys for toddlers below.)
10 throwing toys that will help satisfy a toddler's need to throw things
This is a list of toys that can help satisfy your child's need to throw things. I've also included some additional resources toward the bottom of the page.
Bathtub Ball Track Set by Haba
As you learned above, sometimes toddlers throw things simply to see how they fall. Bathtime is a great opportunity to let your toddler explore the trajectory of items.
Bean Bag Toss Game
Giving your toddler something soft to throw and a set goal for the activity can be a great way to help them stop throwing things they shouldn't.
Wooden Cup and Ball Toss Game
A cup and ball game is a great toy for toddlers who like to throw things. It's both challenging and satisfying.
Something that separates this toy from the others on the list is that it can be taken on trips and used in the car.
The set (not featured in the image below) comes with a variety of colors and a beautiful display stand, as well.
Toss and Catch Mitts and Paddles
This set of toss and catch mitts are great for kids who like to throw. They require the engagement of an adult, as well.
So, if the toddler is looking for the thrill of throwing and the extra attention of a caregiver, this throwing toy will satisfy both.
Purchasing foam gliders is an inexpensive way to satisfy your child's need to throw things. Toddlers can experiment throwing this from various heights – very satisfying and a lot of fun.
Large Knobby Balls
This set of throwing toys for toddlers is the most obvious solution to the toy-throwing issue in your home. Children don't always play with the balls they are given, however.
We have this set and I highly recommend it. There is something about these that my kids can't resist.
These balls have tiny projections on them that add a little bit of extra sensory input.
Toddler Basket Ball & Hoop
This one is a personal favorite of mine. All 3 of my children have gone through stages where they enjoyed throwing their toys instead of playing with them.
Each time, we would redirect them and engage them in a fun game of indoor basketball. It definitely curbed their desire to throw toys.
Ring Toss Game
For a toddler that enjoys throwing things, this ring toss game is great. This particular game gives young children the satisfaction of throwing, as well as experimenting with color matching.
Toddler Ball Run
This is a toddler-friendly version of the marble runs we are all familiar with from our own childhoods. This one is nice because it is large, so toddlers get to use their whole bodies when it's time to place the balls at the top of the ball run.
Toddlers with the need to experiment with the trajectory of things will also get a lot of benefits from this toy.
Toddler T-Ball Set
For children interested in both the trajectory and gross motor aspects of throwing things, a small T-ball set can satisfy both of those needs.
When children throw things, it can be frustrating for caregivers. Hopefully, something on this list of throwing toys for toddlers will help satisfy your child's desire to throw.
For other toy and activity recommendations for children that need extra gross motor stimulation, check out these posts, as well:
Pikler Triangle Recommendations
And remember Practical Life activities all incorporate gross motor elements and can be calming and centering, as well.
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