How to Make My Child Stop Spitting

by Amanda Rumble

Toddlers are cute, cuddly and sweet most of the time, but they are also a true test of your patience, especially when it comes to misbehaving. One of the downright gross behaviors that your toddler might commit regularly is spitting. Don't get too upset or take the spitting personally. Spitting is similar to hitting and biting -- your toddler has a reason why he continues to spit. Pinpoint why your toddler is spitting so you can go back to cuddling him instead of wiping the spit off the kitchen floor you just mopped.

1 Observe your toddler's behavior to understand what goes on when he spits. Is he spitting only around you or does he spit all the time? Pediatrician William Sears advises to look for patterns or triggers that encourage him to spit. Some toddlers only spit when they aren't receiving adequate attention, while others might spit when they get angry or don't want to do something such as picking up their toys.

2 Ask yourself whether you are expecting too much from your toddler developmentally. Most toddlers do not have the verbal skills to express their feelings completely so they act out through behaviors such as biting, hitting or spitting, parenting consultant Ann Corwin said. Your toddler might be using this as a way to say "No, I don't want to do that" because he can't put his thoughts and feelings into words. You can't expect a 2-year-old and 5-year-old, for example, to have the same reasoning for spitting -- their development just isn't the same.

3 Reinforce positive behavior. If your toddler is spitting and frequently receives negative attention such as punishment or yelling, he'll continue to spit because he knows it causes a reaction from you, Sears said. Instead of yelling until you're blue-faced, place him in time-out or in his room to give him time to calm down and sort out his emotions out. Focus on giving your toddler praise when he does something you like, and he will connect the positive reinforcement with good behavior and punishment with negative behavior.

Tip

  • Be consistent with punishment. Sears warns that you shouldn't make threats about consequences such as time-out unless you intend to carry them out.