Don't you just love the sound of a boisterous child expressing his opinion of your dinner by throwing it on the floor?
Yeah, I don't either.
The dropping or throwing of food onto the floor was a big issue in our household about a month or two ago. When my son first started practicing for the discus, we were both regularly in tears during mealtimes--him because something wasn't going his way, and me because...well, because something wasn't going my way either. My son was chucking food off is tray left and right (mostly left) and being picky about what he ate to boot. I didn't feel like I could get anything other than bread, soy butter, cheese, and oatmeal into his little tummy. I was coming to dread mealtimes.
I knew something had to change, and cutting meals out of our daily routine wasn't an option. I racked my brain for age-appropriate ways to alter behavior and came up with a solution that has been working very well for us.
Now, whenever my son drops food on the floor, I take away his tray, spin his chair around to face away from the table, tell him "don't drop food on the floor," and walk away. It doesn't take long in his little exile for my son to decide that he doesn't like to be isolated and not have his food, so after picking up whatever he has dropped, I soon can ask him if he'd like to come back to the table and spin him back around.
I do my best not to exile my son for accidents--although the problem is that he has yet to grasp the concept of "on purpose" versus "an accident." Most of the time, if something gets away from him he'll look at me with a worried expression. When I tell him, "It's okay, you didn't do that on purpose," he will usually look me in the eyes while deliberately dropping something else on the floor. *sigh*
However, I am happy to be able to report that I have had a great deal of success with this technique. There were a handful of meals, early on, in which we repeated this process at least a dozen times in a meal, but gradually he caught on. In fact, we had a stretch of about two weeks in which we didn't have to exile him at all! We've even expanded it to include utensils purposefully thrown to the floor.
During this past week, unfortunately, he's testing boundaries again--but I feel confident that this will continue to be successful. One more parenting challenge is now under my belt. Peace reigns--so long as the rain doesn't consist of peas!