What can I do?
2y+ Try ignoring it.
Try ignoring it.
You may find spitting pretty gross – but it’s usually a bid for attention. You could try ignoring it – kids often get sick of spitting if they’re not getting a reaction. The bigger deal you make of the behaviour the more kids learn it to repeat it.
Try to understand why they are spitting.
Think about what they might be associating spitting with. Does anyone around them spit? Is it just a copied behaviour? Ask them why they are spitting – it might be to get rid of a nasty taste, or excess mucus. Ask have you got a sore throat? Do you need a tissue?
Try leaving the room.
If you can’t bear to ignore the spitting, try telling them you don’t like it and leave the room. Most kids don’t like to be on their own for too long, so if you do this every time they spit, they might get the message.
Send them to a place where it is ok to spit.
If they’re spitting at you, tell them that you don’t like it and if they need to spit they have to go outside, or to the toilet/bathroom. Teeth cleaning is a great time to encourage ‘OK’ spitting by saying “here, this is the place to spit’.
Give them lots of positive attention when they’re not spitting.
‘If you ‘feed’ the behaviour you do want with praise and encouragement and starve that which you don’t want by ignoring, the spitting should eventually disappear. Be specific with your praise – “Wow you worked hard on that picture’ or ‘thank you for helping me clean your teeth”.
Be patient and wait it out.
Spitting can be an unpleasant phase, but it usually doesn’t last for long, especially if you try not to make too big a deal of it.
And what about you?
Over it? Use your phone timer to set a time limit for a play activity – your full attention for five minutes is better than half pai for longer.
Had enough? You may feel like you need alcohol or drugs to relax – but they often make the situation worse, especially when you have to deal with kids. Who could help you cut down or cut it out?