Your 5 year just threw his cup after they finished drinking the milk. He starts to play with building blocks and then starts throwing the pieces. Very often you catch them throwing things at you or their friends while playing. In most cases throwing is accompanied by hitting also. This type aggression is disconcerting.
Please understand that children do not want to “attack” other people. In fact in most cases such acts of aggression are beyond their ability to control themselves. They need an adult to help them.
- While a five year old might be walking, talking, running and playing, they are yet to learn to deal with emotions, challenging situations or even general tiredness and hunger. When throwing is a part of a tantrum, it is generally a call for help or attention.
- Your children love to experiment. Throwing things may have started as a means to satisfy their curiosity as to how it feels to throw, how far it will go, how hard it can be thrown etc.
- It gives your children a sense of control. If they are in a situation where they feel an emotional disconnect, lashing out at you or their friends by throwing things at them could be their way of handling stress.
Understanding your child’s fatigue, fear or anger can give you the insight to tune your response to the situation.
- Explain the situation to your child. Tell them when they throw things it hurts others and cause them pain. It might not be easy to teach a five year old empathy but with time they will learn the skill.
- If another child has been hurt because of something they threw, then go to that child first and give them the required attention. This will display compassion to your child and they also realize that their behaviour will not attract your attention.
- If it is experimenting that they enjoy then suggest activities where they can satisfy the urge like playing basketball where they get to aim the ball into the basket. Explain to them that food is not for throwing but is meant to be eaten or that blocks are meant for building
- Talk and communicate with your child. Connect with them. Help them understand that you have their back in any situation and they are not alone.
- If they are just doing it for fun then it is time to threaten them with a consequence and follow through with it. A mild punishment like taking away their favourite toy/book/activity for a limited time could work towards disciplining them.
Throwing things like any other aggressive behaviour has to be handled with the right amount of compassion and firmness. Do not expect the behaviour to change overnight. Remain calm and patient and let your child know that you are confident and in control.