At 22 months we've just entered the throwing and hitting stage. For "throw this, not that" I'm thinking of teaching him "hard" and "soft" and that's okay to throw soft things. I'm wondering if anyone has any insight into whether this is too complicated for his level of development.

He has excellent comprehension, mediocre word production, and very good signing. I'm sure he can learn the signs for hard and soft. I'm mostly sure he can learn what things are hard and what things are soft. I'm trying to guess whether a 22-month-old can learn "this is hard and therefore it should not be thrown."

Anyone have any pointers to studies or insights into whether this might be appropriate for his level of cognitive development?

  • 2
    How do you define what is "hard" vs. "soft" and in what context is throwing a soft thing ok? I can think of a few times where throwing anything, soft or not, is inappropriate. For example, throwing a teddy bear at the pictures hanging on the wall to try knocking them down. Throwing a soft ball at someone's face at full strength. Depending on how much nuance you intend to incorporate will determine what kinds of answers you get.
    – Becuzz
    Nov 14, 2018 at 20:18
  • You might be better off teaching "throw things here" and "don't throw things there", since many hard things (like balls) are meant to be thrown.
    – pojo-guy
    Dec 26, 2018 at 23:04

2 Answers 2


There will be some challenge, based on what kinds of things you have around your house. I've found myself many times scolding for throwing the wrong things but then trying to encourage throwing and catching a ball.

Many times this boils down to context and making sure the kiddo knows that you can't throw certain items in certain places. Establish a "safe zone". Play catch. Use the similar tactics that you would for teaching any other skill or lesson. Accidents do happen, so make sure you can differentiate between your child doing it on purpose or not having completely learned yet, should something inappropriate gets thrown or something gets broken because of it.

But this would be the right age IMO to start that learning. For reference, I have a 3 1/2 year old that is still learning what should not be thrown, but mostly its her being upset when she does it. She was roughly about 2 when we really started to teach about throwing and trying to play catch with her. Her throws are still wild, but we've mostly been able to contain her to doing it outside or in what we call the downstairs living room (essentially ruled by the kids, the play room if you will).

Might be more of "just my opinion" and not qualified as an answer, but I hope that helps a little bit.


In short, yes. Children can learn anything and develop their perceptions as they grow and mature. Reasoning that 'hard' things should not be thrown is a seperate issue. There are many things that should not be thrown by a child (or most adults). Example: knives. Typically those objects are not available for children to pick up, however, many other 'hard' objects are within your childs reach and could cause harm/damage/injury if they were hurled through the air. Example: the TV remote. Your son will learn what is allowed and expected, but not without a few close calls, nonstop repitition, and the deft removal of assorted items in his grasp.

Please allow me to suggest that you divert his lessons to where he can throw things. Throwing a ball when you are outside and you are playing a game is one thing. Throwing a ball (or anything else) when you are inside and angry is entirely something else. Teach him to find a healthier way to deal with or express his anger, lest you end up with a violent teen in the future.

The _Parenting_for_Brain_ website article on Toddler Temper Tantrums offers some excellent advice on the subject.

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