Now that Nellie is getting older, it’s becoming clear to me that the not-so-fun part of parenthood is approaching and becoming more necessary:

Discipline. The “no” word. We’ve been telling Nellie “no” for a while now; when she crawls toward the cat food dish or tries to pull DVDs out from our towers. She understands what it means, and for the most part she stops what she is doing when a stern, “No!” leaves our lips. Sometimes it takes a few instances of us removing her little hand from whatever temptation it’s reaching for to get the message but ultimately, she gets it.

Except when it comes to her damn sippy cup.

When Nellie eats, she gets a sippy of either milk or juice. She will drink from her straw sippy like a big girl and when she’s done with the sippy, she puts her hand on it and sweeps it away like it offends her with its’ very presence. She casts it to the floor and then leans over to watch it fall. It’s both hilarious and infuriating. At first it was like, 95% hilarious and 5% infuriating but as time went on, it became about 5% hilarious and 95% infuriating. I understand that she’s learning “cause and effect” and all that but for the love of god. I’ll have my back turned doing something else and I’ll hear the sippy cup scraping across the high chair tray. I’ll get, “Nellie, N-” out of my lips before I realize it’s too late and the cup has already reached its’ destination on the floor. Nellie looks at me, expressionless, before breaking out into a big grin and I know that she knows exactly what she’s doing.

So when does discipline come in, and what’s the best form? The way I see it, I have a few options. I can:

  • Sternly say, “No throwing!”. I’ve actually done this before, and it usually elicits a grin or a laugh. Great.
  • Pick up the cup without a reaction at all. No smile, no words, just pick the cup up and place it back on the tray with no expression on my face at all. I have heard that this can be effective because kids strive to get a reaction – any reaction – at this age and giving them one only encourages the behavior.
  • Put the cup on her tray, say “no!” and lightly slap her hand. I’m not opposed to occasional spanking or hand-slapping in some circumstances but my gut’s telling me maybe she’s a bit young for this.
  • Not retrieve the cup at all, making her realize that throwing does not equal it coming back. If you throw it away, you obviously don’t want it. But is she old enough to put two and two together and realize that if it goes away it won’t come back?
  • Secure a bungee cord to her high chair tray, loop the other end around the sippy cup, and laugh victoriously as she throws the cup and realizes that it’s not going to reach the floor. Mommy wins!
  • Sell her to gypsies.

I’m inclined to just go straight for the gypsy route, but I guess I’d end up missing her and then it’d be really hard to get her back.

In all seriousness, I’m really at a loss here. I know that Nellie isn’t too young to understand “no”, because she acts appropriately when told in other circumstances. But she’s just not getting the “no throwing” thing. What say you, readers? What is the most effective way to teach a 1 year old that tossing their sippy cup (or anything, really) on the floor isn’t acceptable behavior? What worked best for you? Do you know any friendly gypsy families looking for a small, curly-headed baby to complete their band?


  1. I wanted to buy the dropper stopper (note last resort before selling to gypsies LOL) But I pick it up once put it on the tray with out any expression and if she does it again I pick it up an keep it. She does not get it back. Took about 3 weeks. She no longer throws her sippy and if for some reason only understood by babies that she doesnt want it on her high chair tray she holds it out and grunts until I take it from her.

  2. Good luck! I have twin boys that I'm trying to find the proper discipline for them! http://www.rebeccabany.com

  3. Liam is terrible about throwing things off his tray and.."no" just makes him more determined. I tried popping his hand once; there was no way it hurt.. but it definitely hurt his feelings and that just made him cry and then throw his food off his tray in tears. It also made me cry.. so that will not be happening again ever. I certainly don't think anyone who spanks is wrong if it they are going about it properly.. I just know it doesn't work for me. It didn't work when I was on the receiving end and I don't think I could bring myself to spank. For Liam… since the entire point of throwing things off his tray is to show he doesn't want it.. I have just started helping hand me things that he doesn't want anymore. I take his hand and help him put whatever it is in my hand and then I act so excited and say thank you! He likes that. I think it might be working because, while he still occasionally throws things, he also hands us things a lot more often instead of throwing… so we will see. :)

  4. I think that's kind what my boss did with his son.

    Though I think he might have given him a choice (that's his method). Something like, "Okay, if you throw this again, you're not getting it back. If you want it, keep it on your tray." Then he'd throw it again, and the boss would say, "Okay, you don't want it," but he said it matter-of-factly. And he took it away, and that was that.

    I don't know how much he fussed after that, though.

    But he's been using this method since his son was 6 months old, and he's still using it. The kid rarely needs time outs, and he's pretty well behaved.

  5. My daughter does this. I've never threatened to sell her to the gypsies, but I have considered feeding her to the wolves. Seriously, when she does the sippy-cup-drop, I say "No," pick it up, and put it back on her tray, saying that I'm taking it away if she drops it again. And then I follow through. She's not dropping it as much as she used to–either she got bored with it, or the cause-and-effect nature of my disciplanary style worked. (I'm guessing she got bored with it!)

  6. I can't even get The Boy to use a sippy cup. I'm no help here at all.

    • I just tried like once a day for about a week with juice in the sippy cup 50% juice, 50% water. When she was really hungry or thirsty is when she seemed interested so I told her “You want mommy to help you?” An held the sippy up encouragingly. Sorta had a few times where she straight threw a fit cause I tried this though so *lol* guess it was a good moment. That is when she got it to her mouth to chew on it and I reached over and squeezed the sippy top a bit hard and it let some juice into her mouth. Now she had only drank juice one other time before in a bottle. She just started drinkin it. She isn’t an angel and I’m having some trouble curbing a few of her behaviors but it’s been 2 days now on the sippy cup now on the 3 and she is taking it with out screaming at me and throwing it and everything on the floor. *at least thats a postive* When she’s done though. Straight to the floor.

  7. We've been teaching Bronwyn sign language. One of the signs is All Done. She hasn't actually signed that one yet, but it's showing her that when she is done she can communicate rather than throw. We have had the same issue with the sippy, but it's becoming less and less as she realizes that even if she doesn't do the ACTUAL sign, she can signal in some way. She does sort of grunt though to let us know, and starts pushing away her high chair tray.

  8. I wish I could help. I've raised three through the one year old phase and I'm not sure I did things the same for any one of them. I think it's usually what feels right. You are totally right about one thing though, it's the least fun part. I sat up after mine went to bed last night. They got a gentle scolding, nothing too serious, but it resulted in them losing 30 minutes off their bed times and I still sat up and felt like I had been a real dick. I just keep reminding myself that I'm doing my best and that's really all any of us can do.

  9. Eh, just don't give it back. She probably drops it because she doesn't want it anymore, but once you hand it back, then it's a game. If she realizes it doesn't come back, she at least won't be doing it as a game. You could even say, "Huh, I guess you're not hungry" and take her out of her chair. That's what my mom always did, and generally it wasn't a big deal because the kids never started messing around like that till they were done eating.

    Does it help to know that pretty much every child ever goes through this phase? And it does end.

  10. I think the bungee cord is something you could market…

    We went the route of leaving it on the floor. Or, picking it up so it would be out of the way, but not giving it back to her. It took her a little while, but eventually she stopped.,. for the most part. She would occassionally do it again, almost as if she was testing to see if we would still leave it on the floor.

  11. When A does this, which is all the time, I've taken to not giving the cup back, and it has started to help…

  12. When my son starts throwing anything off the table during mealtimes (sippy cups, toys, utensils etc.) I'll pick it up once or twice with a stern "no" but at the third round I just leave it on the floor and tell him I'm not picking it up any more. He still tosses things around on the regular, but I'm saner now that I'm not constantly picking junk up off the floor.

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