Throwing Food, Not Tantrums

Natural sign of love - heart made from small tomatoes
(C) Piku 2009

I had a rough day with my daughter. First, she had a tantrum in the store and then at lunch she dumped her food on the restaurant floor. This was very unusual for her and I felt at a loss for what to “do”.  I cleaned up, we left the restaurant and went home.

Once home she continued to throw more food at dinner. I acknowledged that she really wanted to throw food, but told her I wasn’t okay with it. My husband and I tried giving a consequence, but were met with more food throwing and then crying. I could feel the tension growing as she cried.

After dinner, I remembered the Hand in Hand idea of allowing “taboo” things during Special Time. I told my daughter I would allow the food throwing if she wanted to do it for Special Time. Her face lit up and she said yes, she did want to have Special Time and throw food. I told her I needed a few minutes to figure it all out. I took a deep breath and decided I could only handle a couple minutes of food throwing.

I gave her a choice of 5 foods to “work” with.  She happily picked orange juice and milk. I poured about an ounce of each into two cups. She also picked yogurt, hummus and cereal. I put a tablespoon of each into bowls. I laid it all out on the kitchen floor, got a towel ready for clean up, and set the timer for 2 minutes.

When I said, “Ready, Set, Go!” She grabbed the cups first and dumped the juice and milk onto the floor. “All right!” I cheered. She decided to eat a little yogurt and then worked on dumping out the hummus and cereal. I cheered for her and when the timer beeped she quickly dumped out the rest of the yogurt and smeared it a little with her finger.

Allowing this short Special Time helped clear some of my tension regarding throwing food as I could just enjoy my daughter’s delight in the activity. As an added bonus, she has only thrown food once since that time. In that instance I was able to jump in with snuggles and hugs and simply move her plate away.

~ Michelle Pate, Parenting by Connection Instructor and Consultant.

Need help dealing with tantrums in public? Read Five Ways to Prevent Public Tantrums and Meltdowns

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4 thoughts on “Throwing Food, Not Tantrums”

  1. I have often come up with acceptable alternatives (potty talk in the bathroom, loud voices outside, etc.) but have never thought to do a special dedicated time. Thanks for sharing!

    Also, I wanted to say that I love your idea of recording our success stories (in another post). I sometimes will review the positives in my mind at the end of the day, lying in bed, but I think coming upon a collection of these moments some day down the road would be magical!

    Blessings,
    Stacy

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