How To Stop Toddlers From Spitting: 7 Strategies That Actually Work

How To Stop Toddlers From Spitting: 7 Strategies That Actually Work

4 Oct 2022 | 6 min Read

Sudeshna Chakravarti

Author | 799 Articles

Spitting is one of the most repulsive and frustrating behaviours toddlers exhibit. Whether your kid spits at you when you say something they don’t want to hear or spits on their peers who refuse to share, it’s essential to curb this habit as soon as possible.

In this post, we’ve rounded up some effective strategies for responding to your child’s spitting behaviour and helpful tips to discipline your child. Incorporate these strategies one at a time, and be persistent with them as they will stop your toddler from spitting.

Why do Toddlers Spit?

Why do toddlers spit?
Toddlers may spit out of anger when they are not able to express their emotions properly / Image credit: Freepik

Sometimes toddlers may spit just for fun! They may simply spit on the ground thinking it’s entertaining. If your tot doesn’t get a reaction from anyone, they may continue to spit thinking it’s fun.

In some cases, your child may spit out of anger. This usually happens when they aren’t able to verbalise their feelings of frustration and think that spitting will show you how upset they feel. Also, a child who has been taught not to hit out of anger might spit, thinking that’s a better alternative. 

Your child might also use spitting as a self-defense tactic. If your tot doesn’t want their friend or peer to touch their favorite toy, they might respond by spitting at them to keep them at bay. Children with autism and special needs may spit as well, as they find it an effective way to express their feelings of annoyance or a way to get a little more control over a particular situation.

How to Respond: 7 Helpful Strategies

Your toddler’s spitting behaviour can be quite frustrating, but the way you act or respond during this time plays a crucial role in curbing this habit. So instead of getting angry and yelling at them, use the following strategies to effectively discipline them.

First, Stay Calm

The disrespect combined with disgust that accompanies spitting might cause you to lose your temper instantly. But when your tot loses their cool and spits, the best thing you can do is be a role model and teach them how to deal with their emotions in a socially appropriate manner. 

Refrain from yelling or spanking during this time, as that will send a wrong message. If you are really upset, walk away for a few minutes, and don’t address the situation until you are calm enough to speak in a normal and relaxed manner.

Tell Your Child Spitting Is Not Acceptable

How to stop toddlers from spitting
Instead of yelling and shouting at your child, give them direct messages and teach them that this habit is inappropriate / Image credit: Freepik

Instead of giving your child lengthy lectures or scolding them endlessly, give them direct reminders such as “spitting is not cool” and “spitting is gross and inappropriate.” Sending them clear messages will help them understand that this habit is inappropriate and they will slowly refrain from doing it. 

Make Your Child Clean The Mess Along With You

A natural consequence of spitting includes cleaning the mess. Tell your child that if they have spat on the floor and created a mess, then they will have to help you clean the mess. Give them some cleaning materials, and encourage them to clean the mess with you. 

Afterward, ask them to rinse their hands with a foaming handwash to keep them clean and germ-free, before getting their hands busy on some other activity. 

Instilling spitting as a messy activity and encouraging your tot to clean after the mess will slowly help curb this habit in them. Here, you can also have a talk with your child and ask them if it was appropriate for them to spit and create a mess. Directing this habit as inappropriate is likely to work better than lecturing or scolding them.

Consider Using Restitution

If your kid spits on someone else or on their belongings, restitution may be in order. For instance, you can insist that they loan the victim their favourite toys for the day, or assign them an extra chore to do, such as help clean the mess. Doing this can help them make amends with the person who they spat on, and discipline them as well.

Place Your Kid in Time-out

How to stop toddlers from spitting
Placing your kid in a time-out will help relax them and also make them reconsider their actions Image credit: Freepik

If your child is spitting out of anger, then instead of getting angry and yelling at them, place them in time-out. Ask them to stand in a quiet area for a minute and think about what they have done. This will help them calm down and also give them the space to reconsider their actions.

Also, try to teach your child healthier ways to control and express their anger. Teach them relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises to calm them and control their feelings of frustration.

Teach Your Child What to Do Instead

Your child may not be able to emote their feelings properly, and that’s why you need to assist them and teach them alternatives to this behaviour. Teach them how to use words to express their feelings and instil anger management values in them. These tips can help your child deal with uncomfortable emotions in a socially appropriate manner, and also protect their mental health.

Reinforce Good Behaviour

If spitting is a big problem for your child, try putting a reward system in place. Create a good behaviour chart that allowed your tot to earn points or stickers whenever they exhibit socially acceptable manners. Then allow them to exchange these stickers and points with tangible rewards, such as extra playtime with friends, or indulging in their favourite snack. 

Many kids develop the habit of spitting at one point or another. This mostly happens because of their inability to emote their feelings. So instead of yelling or scolding them, try to tackle this habit with the practical tips that we have mentioned. Most importantly, teach your toddler anger management skills, so that they can express their feelings in a healthy manner. 

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