This is a learning opportunity. When your toddler throws food while at the table, don’t ignore him! He is testing (or asking you) where the boundaries are and seeing what you will let him get away with. Make sure you answer his question in a way that is easy for him to understand.
Ignoring your child when he is throwing food at the table will lead to:
- other bad table manners and disobedience
- throwing food at other people
- throwing food in public
You cannot expect a guest or stranger to put up with your childs’ bad behavior, or sit calmly while having food pelted at him (and you should’t have to either).
This is a very simple problem with a simple solution (and one that every parent has had to deal with). When you child throws food at the table:
- flick his hand and say “no”
- remove him from the table
- make him wait before letting him finish his food
Flicking a childs’ hand won’t hurt him, but it will let him know you mean business. If this doesn’t work and he continues to throw food, remove him from the table. Let him have ten minutes or more (depending on his age) away from the table before he is permitted to finish his food. After the break, try again. If he throws his food again, he is done eating for that meal. Do not give in on this! He will learn very quickly and certainly won’t go hungry. Before his next meal, be sure to remind him “If you throw your food, you will be done eating”.
If your child throws a temper tantrum during his “time away from the table”, put him in a portable crib (or other appropriate spot) in a different room where his cries are ineffective. After he is quiet he can try eating again. Remember, he only gets one more chance. If he still throws his food, he is done for the meal.
You will be amazed how quickly your child learns. Kids are super smart (you really have to work to outsmart them). Within a couple of days the lesson will be learned and done. There will be an occasional retest but it will be short-lived.
When your child makes it through a meal without throwing food, praise him. Tell him how wonderful it is and how happy you are with him. Other people will praise him too. Instead of getting sour looks at restaurants (and not getting invited to friends houses anymore), you will get smiles and compliments (a lovely reward for both of you).
Best of luck!