Toddlers Behaving Badly

"My Child Bangs His Bowl on the Table Before Dumping His Dinner on the Floor"

The best defense: End the meal.

As soon as 15-month-old Henry Walch of Overland Park, Kansas, starts flinging his food, his dad, Rob, knows his son is ready for the next activity. "I'd like him to sit and eat longer, but the floor gets messy," says Rob. Plus, toddlers usually throw food because they're bored. With their short attention span, 1-year-olds will last 15 minutes -- tops -- at the dinner table. The trick is to keep meals short (even if it means you have to eat later or take turns with your spouse), pay attention while he eats, and respond consistently when he starts tossing his carrots. For example, take him out of the high chair and say, "Food is for eating, not throwing." Then find a more productive outlet for your child's energy ("Let's build a block tower together"). If you follow this plan, your cleanups should get easier within a few weeks.

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