Throwing Food

Posted December 20, 2008

Dear Kitty,

My 20 month-old has a very frustrating habit of throwing his dish(es), cup, utensils, placemat etc. onto the floor as soon as he finishes eating (or during eating). I can't seem to find a solution to this. Anything I have said has not made a difference. I have tried positive reinforcement by really praising him if he hands me his things when he is finished (when prompted), but this doesn't seem to be working well enough. I would appreciate any suggestions - this makes an enormous mess and is driving me crazy!

I think you'll have better success if you stop reacting to the throwing of the utensils. When something goes down, you can simply assume his meal is over and without referring to the thrown object or even making any eye contact, get him down. No comment, no "look", no sighs, just get him down. Clean up the floor a few minutes later.

If he is still hungry, he'll protest the first time and begin to mend his ways after another time or two. If he convinces you he is still hungry, you may give him a 2nd chance after he's had some time to cry. If he isn't hungry any more, he's better off down anyway. Remember to 'not care' about how much he has eaten. When a parent worries about that they tend to leave the child too long, hoping for another bite, and the child is tempted to misbehave.

The most important thing is for both parents 'not to see' or care when the objects go down. Suddenly his whole reason for doing it (attention and reaction) will be absent. It may take a few days to improve.

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Filed under: Discipline, Feeding and Eating

TV Programs for Kids

Posted December 10, 2008

Dear Kitty,

I read your article on rating programs but a lot of these don't seem to be on TV anymore.  I've tried to completely avoid letting my son (23 months) watch cartoons but now he seems to be quite interested.  So the odd time I do allow him to watch something I'd like it to be "good".  I've recorded a few Max & Rubys & Little Bears. Would if be possible for you to please pass along some good shows?  And ones to avoid that are out there now but aren't on your list?  As always, thanks so much!

To give you the best answer regarding recommended children's television programs, I asked other parents to write in to provide a list of programs they particularly like their child to watch.

Notice I didn't ask for the shows your child "loves".  We are a better judge of which shows are beneficial from the following standpoints:

  • It peaks your child's curiosity
  • It is not over-stimulating with constant flashing, high chirpy, unreal voices, etc.
  • People or animals are nice to each other and model behaviors you want your child to see

In addition, I asked readers to tell us which shows do they do not want their child to watch and why?

Here are the comments I received:

"Our son’s (3 years, 10 months) favorite show of the moment are “Super Why” and “Wilbur”. Both promote reading and use familiar stories to explain a moral, or story. Both “look in a book” for an answer. He can’t read yet, but has always cherished his books, so both these shows play on that interest. Characters are kind and gentle, and motion is not too fast paced. Backyardigans have been a constant. They’re quite kind to one another (though Tasha is a bossy one), they go on some exciting adventures and the music doesn’t grate on parents like some of the others. Diego and Dora are popular with him, but nothing like his preference for Super Why. Usually, one of Super Why (or Wilbur) a day is enough to satiate his tv craving.

When he was younger (2 – 2.5), he enjoyed “Franklin” and “Little Bear”, but they seem young for him now, or maybe he’s more into the novelty of “super Why” and “Wilbur”. Elmo’s world was also a good one for him too.

We are not fans of Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch – the big white spider scares our son. He does watch Nemo, but we skip chapters through some parts. Most Disney films have too many villains and other than “edited” Nemo, we have yet to find something appropriate.

Hope that helps and I am looking forward to hearing others top picks!"


"My son is almost 4 and mostly watches the Backyardigans. He likes to re-enact the adventures they have by himself or with his friends who also watch the show. The voices are calm and animation is easy on the eyes and the characters are kind to each other. It has also sparked his interest in pretending. The basis of the show is the friends get together in their backyards and pretend they are somewhere else and have adventures together. When he was 2, we enjoyed watching Poko and Little Bear.

We have a pvr and only record the backyardigans, so I am not sure which other shows are on right now and can’t comment about which shows I don’t like. Actually I know I don’t like Dora and Diego because the voices are loud and annoying.
We are really enjoying the weekly newsletter!!"


"My daughter will be 3 in May and highly verbal. She gets about 30 – 45 minutes of TV about 4 times a week and we’ve recently started “movie night” with her on the weekend.

Shows I like for her:

Toopie and Binou – Toopie does have high chirpy unreal voice, but the show is very funny and I think the things they do – have a parade of toys, puppet shows, tell various bedtime stories, etc. – spark the imagination. It started off I think as a French program and little Toopie and Binow books are available in French at Librairie Monette, so it is a nice way to introduce a second language too.

Dora the Explorer and Go Diego Go – very commercial, but they are adventurers, out in the world doing interesting things. Kids learn about animals, etc. And the books actually are good for developing language, counting, ABC’s, and a tidbit of Spanish. Despite being so commercial, I don’t mind these shows at all.

Franklin – There is always some moral to the story. Hope this helps!"


"My picks for t.v. shows are: Curious George (my favourite for a long, long time) and Caillou.

I prefer my child not watch Dora the Explorer because it is annoying and you really don't learn anything - I also do not like Sesame Street - the creatures are too hard to understand. I hope this helps!"


 "My son is 5 and we love Curious George (CBC and PBS), Franklin (treehouse), Handy Manny (Disney – channel 39), Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (channel 39) and Pinky Dinky Doo (CBC) at our house. We took Kitty’s advice a few years ago and taped some Mr. Rogers off the tv and he quite likes that too. My one year old daughter seems to enjoy Barney, but basically gets stuck watching whatever my son puts on – she doesn’t really seem to care. I am still pretty particular with what they watch, but as my son has gotten older, I have loosened the boundaries a bit. I think he is still the only 5 year old that has only ever seen one movie in his lifetime and that was part of his birthday present when he turned 5."


"My son will be three in June and started watching television when he was two years old. We experimented with quite a few different programs both on television and on DVD and found a few which we don’t mind him watching and which he also seems to enjoy.

 On television: (mainly treehouse, some CBC or PBS) Max and Ruby, Babar, Mighty Machines

DVDs include: Raffi, Little Einstein

As an adult, I enjoy the Backyardigans but he doesn’t seem to be able to follow the story line yet so he gets bored quickly. On occasion, we watch Curious George or Franklin. I try to stay away from Thomas because I find the story lines a little negative. No Disney yet as they all seem to have “scary monkeys” (a dark character of some type)"

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Filed under: Play

Power Struggles With In-Laws

Posted December 1, 2008

Dear Kitty,

I appreciated your newsletter last week about toilet learning.  It made me think about how several of my past and recent problems aren't so much problems for me as they are problems for my in-laws (and therefore for me!).

I really admire my in-laws and value the opportunities they offer my children.  In many ways they are awesome. The problem is that they impose their own rules without respect for what I might have just said to my kids (examples: she'll tell my son he has to have his boots on the right feet when I'm thinking he did really well to put his boots on at all and at her bidding; at her cabin, she seems to need to prevail even if it means she contradicts something I've just said to my son.  I find myself trying to explain to him that at Grandma's house we need to do things differently and I even heard myself say "I guess mommy needs to learn the rules too, at Grandma's house" in an effort to explain some of her contradictions.

Normally I stay quiet because I'm so grateful for their generosity with their time in letting us get away for short trips, etc.  And while they are in charge, I let them do what they feel is right.  The problem is when I've already said something and my m-i-l contradicts me in front of my son.  I think I need  to develop some non-confrontational ways of communicating this to her.

I would value your insight, as well as that from any other parents who share this problem.

I think you've stated this common problem very well and that you are being fair in your assessment of grandparents who are well-intentioned, highly interested, and loving to you and your children.

As you probably know, I am a grandmother too and have, I hope, avoided the urge to say or imply "At grandma's house we do it this way..." as a way of supposedly teaching my grandchildren's parents how important it is to maintain certain standards or to show off my good relationship with their child or to pass down some of the 'wisdom' of my own generation.

Every parent hopes for the support and respect of the previous generation as they wend their own way through the complex world of parenting.  I think your plan to find non-confrontational ways of communicating how much you value their decisions and authority when you aren't present yet how important it is that they respect your authority when you are present, is a very good idea.

Some wording that comes to mind is:
"Let's leave the right - foot, left - foot issue for another time (said to your mother-in-law with a smile).  Off we go."
"I've already said he only needs to eat what he is hungry for tonight." (smile)
"Let's see if there is a spill and if there is, we can use the booster seat." (smile)

These statements can be firmly made in a friendly, confident way.  Statements like these will set a new tone and it is important that your in-laws here these statements from your husband as well.

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Filed under: Interesting Parenting Matters

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