Saturday, January 5, 2013


As long as I can remember Leander has one thing that will for sure make me climb up the walls and make me go completely nuts. It's throwing. As soon as he was able to throw or drop things he did. And it wasn't just the normal developmental "figuring out how things behave when thrown or dropped". It was also wild and random. And dangerous at times.

The first times I got really mad was when wooden toys like cars, trains or blocks hit me. I would shout or yell, run off in order not to hit him. Then it drove me mad that he threw things on the floor. For one thing I am very sensitive to such loud noises. The other thing is that I would love to get as much of our deposit as possible back when we move out. And at some point I went mad already when he just lifted things up in the air. And he knew. He knew that was all he needed to do and I would become serious and drop everything I was doing in that very moment.

When we still went to the playgroup I was very nervous because he almost hit other kids with wooden objects when throwing things there. My fear and also anger would accompany us both and only now while I write this down I actually understand how much this was between us. In the air. I sent out those signals and he responded accordingly. As he does. With everything.
In the parent consultation group that was part of that playgroup I raised the topic and we made a little role play out of it. And when I played myself and another woman played Leander I had to laugh a lot. I behaved like a clown jumping up and down trying to stop him from throwing objects. It was all about stopping the throwing. For good.

So in order to stop me from behaving like a clown and him from even having a chance to throw I would take large or wooden objects away. I would offer lots of soft balls or chestnuts, corks or baskets. All stuff I was capable of watching fly through the living room. And there were times when it was better and I said to my husband: "I think the throwing has stopped."

Well - guess what: it hasn't. Over Christmas when we spent a lot of time together and some of it indoors due to some illnesses keeping us down we experienced some more of our little olympic athlete in discus throwing. And a little more of me going up the walls.
Yesterday it all had its peak when I suddenly took him, went to his room, sat him on the floor, left and went to the living room not very gently closing the doors in behind me. I heard him cry. I took three deep breaths and went back in. I hugged him and told him what had happened. And when AGAIN I tried to convince him to just stop the throwing I couldn't even listen to myself anymore. Because it wasn't just the throwing. And it wasn't just him. It was us. Mainly me. And a lot more.

One thing I tend to do when he throws things at me is either try and catch it or pick it up quickly and (here it comes): madly smash it on a wall or door or anywhere to get rid of the first anger that hits me. If I am still mad as hell I leave the room banging the doors (they must be in good shape cos none of them broke so far) and calming myself down while he either cries or silently waits for me to come back. And while I realized that the answer to throwing isn't necessarily throwing I tried hard to restrain myself from it. Resulting in even harder door banging. Or yelling even louder.

But yesterday another thing occurred to me: The way we behave in our house with objects. When I tidy up I don't just carry things to the place they belong. I might throw some books on the sofa to clean up from there later. I throw the dirty clothes around everywhere in the bathroom or bedroom to collect before I put them in the washing. Our shoes lie around everywhere in the entrance. I throw scarfs and hats up onto the hat rack. I might gently chuck the cheese from the fridge onto the table. You know not the heavy throwing but I don't always put things down gently and quiet. Especially when I am having a bad day or when I am in a hurry. I know what I can handle how and I know what books I want to be careful with and which I am about to bring to the second hand shop. Stuff like that.
Well - we are role models here aren't we? When Leander gets (un)dressed his jumper, his jacket, his trousers - they all fly. In the evening I don't care cos I might just pick it up on my way out of his room to take it to the bathroom. In the mornings it drives me mad. And these are the objects that fly that won't hit or hurt me. But what about his cars. His trains and tracks. His building blocks. His books. Or our stuff. How is he supposed to know what is ok to gently be thrown and what not? It's like trying to teach him that when no car is approaching he can cross the street although the lights are red. It's not possible. And not safe.

Today when he threw books around I remembered what I had learned in the Montessori course I did: That we want to give our children materials that are of nice quality and shape. To show them how much we worship them by letting them use real cups, glasses, ceramic bowls and stuff instead of just cheap plastics. But they also should learn that these things are somewhat worthy. And that we should be gentle with everything around us. May that be books, our clothes, plants, animals or humans.
So everything I am lifting and shifting, everything I am touching I am trying to be gentle with now. I always admired those people who have this silent aura. Who move quietly, talk slowly and silently and have this calm self. It all goes hand in hand doesn't it? And with my actual really crazy spleen of hating loud noises (having someone eating an apple next to me drives me nuts) I should have gotten there a long time ago shouldn't I? Well. Better now than never is my hope.

But after yesterday I wasn't relieved and happy with those thoughts. Leander was well upset all evening and when we were reading a book about the little mole and the mouse in it crying cos her house was broken he said to me: "I am sad too." And when I asked if it was because of me being so angry and loud he quietly nodded along.
In the evening when my husband went to sleep and I couldn't due to some kicking baby in my belly I read two of Janet Lansbury's wonderful posts on toddler behavior.

- "No bad kids - Toddler Discipline without shame (9 guidelines)"
- "No angry kids - fostering emotional literacy in our children"

Because I know it's not just about the throwing. It's way more. It's tiredness. A call for attention. Frustration. Overstimulation. A wake up call for me. You name it. And as long as I don't find a way to control my own response to it I can offer him more soft toys that are safe to fly. But the actual problem will not be solved. And hoping that it might lead to a career in discus throwing might be a tad too early I guess. (Despite the fact that it isn't really funny, I know).


  1. So inspiring. Thank you for sharing your learning process so that I can utilize your lessons!
    -Heather Noel

    1. Thank you Heather. Glad there is something in there for you. Hopefully it will shorten your learning path :)

  2. Great post! We live near Atlanta - is there a Montessori type course for homeschooling parents or parents in general? This sounds awesome!

    1. Hi J, I wouldn't know given that I live in Austria. But I guess any type of Montessori course (even just an introduction course) can be helpful to understand the concept in general. The way it is taught over here is a bit strict regarding the materials Montessori invented. They don't give much educational advice I'd say so in the end it is a lot of self study anyway.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  3. What a beautiful and inspiring post! It has reminded me that I need to be careful of how I conduct myself not only in my interractions with my children but also just going about my daily living.

    I think I am going to try just what you did. Think about the behavior that causes me to feel the most stressful for each child and really think about how I might be unintentionally modeling behavior that encourages the bad behavior maybe think of ways I can model the appropriate behavior for them.

    And if you have the time I would love for you to link up this post at our Sunday Parenting Party.

    1. Hi Rebekah,
      I think we tend to look at our children first and only after a while recognize that quite often it's us they are imitating. I am learning this the hard way now that he started talking and I hear myself on a record all day... That's what got me thinking about this whole role modeling ...

      I have included the link to your Sunday Parenting Party. Thanks for the invite !!

  4. Hi Nadine - I have a 2.5 year old little thrower as well! Now that his baby brother has arrived, it is even more terrifying as all manor of objects go flying across the living room landing dangerously close to little man. Since it is winter too, we can't be outside to throw balls or whatever might be more acceptable. I'm a huge Janet Lansbury fan and have been reading as much as possible as well, but just guessing he'll have to grow out of it. I'm hoping to have a future Olympic athlete on my hands too - or else what was this all for?? Good luck to you and know that you aren't alone! :)

  5. What I love most is that you say that you throw and yell and slam. ME TOO! I'm not proud of it and I generally try to avoid it- but some days.... And I am glad I am not alone. (The rest was good too- I don't have a thrower but I do have a couple of noise makers and your thoughts are great from that perspective!)