My 3-year-old boy throws things at people for no reason. Sometimes he just needs attention and sometimes he's just doing this for fun, but it has been very hard on us because it gave me a black eye once. Now his teacher is exhausted about the situation and she needs us to do something about it.

I've done ignoring, time out, talking, and even spanking. None of them works, after the the punishment he is gonna do it again and start laughing. My son has speech delay too and I think this behavior might be because of his lack of communication skills. Please help me to find the right strategy that works for him.

  • 1
    Does the punishment (I'd lean towards time out vs spanking) happen again, right away, if he starts throwing again, right away? And how long it time out? What does time out look like? We had a time-out timer, and if our child/children did not sit still, facing the corner when in time out, the timer would have to re-start again. If the same behavior happened again as soon is it was over, another time out. Having to sit like that, not interacting, took away the "attention getting" aspect of getting a timeout. Aug 26, 2016 at 17:03
  • I know this is an old post but can I ask how you got on. My daughter has speech delay and is constantly throwing things . Nursery said she throws toys at them and other children. I've tried everything and nothing is working Thank you
    – Lan
    Aug 23, 2019 at 8:50

2 Answers 2


This is a response I wrote for another family, that will help you. Take 20 uninterrupted, totally involved completely focused undistracted, minutes doing activities your child completely loves to do. Do this daily. Be present, so don't have food cooking, or laundry on, it's about him and you connecting. Follow his lead, have fun, let go. Do this every single day. Let him know how much you enjoyed it , how you can't wait to have one to one time everyday. Instead of yelling, use a calm voice when speaking with him. Stop the show. With no audience, there's really no point of having a show. You may want to child proof before doing this, but when he gets out of control you want to disconnect. You want to be neutral and matter of fact about it. Be quick about it and non reactive . Tell him you will be going to your time out spot and that he can come find you as soon as he is less excited. Nothing more. And leave. Now wait. When he comes, tell him you need a hug. Hug it out. Tell him that you're changing time out to make it a quiet place he can go to alone or with you when he feels really excited or angry. You can remind him of this when he needs it. He can go with you or alone. You will say something like I see you're really excited, do you want to take a break in your quiet spot or do you want mommy to come too. The spot can have books, music, favorite game or toy, no electronic devices like tablets or tv though. It can be decorated any way he wants. A huge box is a good thing to use. Make a little house of it. Or use a sheet to build a tent.

If he does this when he feels excited or anxious, or angry, discuss with him what other things can HE CAN do when he feels this way... like take a walk, build Legos, paint/color, stomp on his pillows, big self hug, take a deep breath, count to ten, go to his quiet spot, read a book with Parent, use flashlight in the dark (not really dark not to scare him). Just some suggestions. Stop yelling, reprimanding, and time- outing. It is feeding into his needs for attention and power negatively. That all can be replaced with the Positive version as described above. Would like to follow up with you so let me know how things go. Best to you. Just submitted this for another family. All punishments must stop. He's trying to tell you to give him choices, to notice him, to involve him usefully. He's also trying to tell you that "you can't make him do what you want" Don't get into conflict, don't give in, just follow the steps above. But, for sure, the dynamic needs to change. Spend less time ordering, commanding, and more time being curious. Use a question instead of command. Don't back talk, you're modeling it. Take ego out of the mix... He isn't competing with you, he's communicating to you with a positive intention to feel significant and to feel belonging. A big part of that is self power. He wants choices...to be involved usefully... Let him choose between two things. Instead of put your shoes on, ask him are you gonna wear your sneakers or your crocks before going outside? Then let him get them and put them on. Which brings you to training. Training is teaching a behavior, then role playing a few times while he gets it. Keep NO out of it. Use humor. Back off to your quiet place of you get frustrated. Take turns. Remember that mistakes are great opportunities to learn and communication is only effective when you get the response you're looking for. You can also try replacing the behavior like high five instead, or walking over and saying hi, or tapping someone to get their attention. Role play those or any other ideas you may have. Remember, have fun with this, laugh, enjoy, and he will too. That will help him learn more quickly. Let me know how you do. Best to you.


The fact that you say he does it for fun makes me think he's not doing it to hurt you, or maybe even for attention. It sounds to me like he might be in the trajectory schema. A schema is a phase young children go through where they really focus on one thing to help them understand the world. You'll probably recognize many of them, even if your child hasn't gone through them. They include fascination with transporting objects, hiding objects, climbing into small spaces, seeing things from strange angles (like hanging upside down off the sofa) and, of course, throwing. Where possible, it's best to allow a child to explore their fascination, as it keeps them happy and helps them to learn. I'd suggest buying some toys safe for throwing - bean bags, fabric balls, pom poms, table tennis balls etc. Basically anything soft and light that won't damage objects or hurt people when thrown indoors. When your son is throwing an inappropriate object, take they toy, say "That's not for throwing. These are for throwing." and move him towards the allowed throwable items. This way you're not saying "no", you're saying "not like that". Depending on his abilities, you may be able to add additional reasoning like "That hurts people", "You might break your toy" or "You might break (object thrown at)". You mention his teacher, but at only 3 I'm assuming this is in a play setting, not a typical classroom? If so, they can do the same tactic to direct him towards soft light objects that he can throw.

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