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Throwing Food (Trajectory Schema)

Posted by felicity Sunday, December 14, 2014

Many parents presume that a little one sweeping food on to the floor is a sign that they've finished their meal or maybe they are being a little pickle.This may not be the case. Another way to look on this is he could be behaving in a way that reflects his schema.
You can read more about Schemas in our blog post here
Your little one could be showing signs of being in the Trajectory Schema
Spotting the Trajectory Schema
One of the first recognisable schemas in children is the trajectory schema, which is all about repeated movements. The horizontal trajectory is expressed in patterns of movement your baby shows in moving their arms and legs to crawl or kick. The vertical trajectory is expressed in picking things up, posting things and of course, the dreaded dropping of things.  Some parents interpret the repeated removal of a hat a sign they don't like something on their head, but this could be another representation of this schema - the hat falling down is another expression of movement.
This exploration of height, distance and length is not intended to annoy; it is a developmental phase. Swiping things off the highchair, dropping things from the pushchair and wanting them to be retrieved are all identifiable patterns of behaviour and rather than fight it, embrace this developmental phase and accommodate it as much as you can.
Accommodating the trajectory schema through play
Your little one might enjoy throwing things, so accommodate this by allowing them to throw safe things such as soft balls or bean bags. Pointing out birds or aeroplanes in the sky can be interesting since they are moving in straight lines. Many babies are fascinated by floating bubbles and falling feathers due to their movement, again supporting the interest in this trajectory schema.

Feeding the Schema
So now we understand why our little ones are dropping food on the floor, what can we do about it? 

One option is to remove the ability to drop something, so having a picnic can be a fun idea. Of course this isn't always practical so instead try offering foods that support the schema.

Dribbling foods can be fun - Taking a spoonful of something gloopy, such as porridge and letting it drip from the spoon to the bowl can be stimulating. You could of course use your fingers to do this too. 

Soups are great for this as well as yogurt as they enable the food to fall from the spoon to the bowl / table.

Drinking through straws can also satisfy this schema, again because the liquid is being transported from one place to another.

We're sure you can come up with lots more ideas and we would love to hear them!


Read more about schemas and recipes and eating / play suggestions to support them in the chapter "Feeding the schema" in our latest book Worry-free Weaning.

Dr Anna Walton is a chartered counselling psychologist and Felicity Bertin is a registered paediatric osteopath. They work together supporting families with children who have fussy eating habits.