Today my trashcan was ringing. There's a first time for everything, I guess. How, may you ask, does a trash bucket come to ring? Well, your toddler throws a cell phone in it, of course. Who knows why throwing things away is so endlessly entertaining to kids this age, but I'm sure plenty of possessions that don't let off alerting sounds have gone to the dumpster without their owners knowing, thanks to tiny fingers. The tendency to throw things away is a toddler behavioral stage that ends thankfully, but it can be both costly and disgusting in the meantime.
So how can you stop your toddler from throwing stuff away that isn't trash?
Teach acceptable alternatives. First, it's important your toddler understands what's trash, and what's not. This is best done through practice. When there is trash to be tossed, let your toddler throw it away, and be sure they understand that it's OK because it's trash. You can show them where things that aren't trash go so they have acceptable alternatives for both categories of item. Planning some activities that focus on recycling and environmental clean-up can also help.
Show the consequences. I found it extra effective when my toddler threw one of his favorite toys away, to remove it from the trash and put it away. When he asked me where it was, I told him he threw it away, and so it would never come back. It was at the dump. Naturally, he was upset. I did give it back and made sure to explain that if mommy wouldn't have saved it, it really would have been gone.
Be consistent. Next, like with all behavioral issues in toddlers, you need to be consistent in your reaction and discipline on the subject. Keep a close eye on your toddler, and try to catch trash-throwing attempts in the act, when discipline will be most effective.
Lock it up. Your next option is to try to outsmart your toddler turning your garbage can into a puzzle-like contraption. While in most cases putting an actual lock on your trash is impractical, you may be able to get away with purchasing one with a lid that has a tricky closure, or attaching your own latch. This may work for a while depending on your toddler's developmental level. At the very least, it will slow them down so they're easier to catch in the act.
Put it away. Finally, if you can't keep the kid out of the trash, keep the trash away from the kid. You can place your trash bin in a cabinet or pantry and place a childproof latch on the door, or an out of reach latch in the case of closet or pantry doors. If you have a secondary, outside door that's covered, you may also consider setting the trash bin outside. In which case, be sure your can has a lid to prevent attracting insects and wildlife.
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