Toddlers do several things that make their parents just want to give them back, who knows to who, but back. However of all the bad behaviors my toddler has exhibited thus far the most insulting, infuriating, irksome and plain out icky one yet, is spitting. My toddler will crawl right up in your lap get inches from your face, stick that little tongue out and razz-spit all over your face just before skipping away giggling in the most angelic way. What’s a mom to do?
Why does my toddler find such glee in spitting?
Well it’s funny, isn’t it? At least to him it is. It’s likely at some point he did this little face spitting trick on accident and whoever he did it to reacted dramatically, as spitting, especially in the face, is an unpleasant experience. Whether they laughed, got upset, or simply disgusted they exhibited a reaction. Toddlers adore reactions almost as much as they adore attention of any kind. It’s this addiction to attention and reaction that fuels bad behaviors such as spitting in toddlers. This first reaction and attention to an accident led to repeat and numerous performances.
What can you and I do about toddler spitting?
Many parents find themselves in a pickle; it’s very hard to ignore a toddler who spits but paying attention and reacting fuels the behavior. Thus the-don’t-pay-it-any-attention-and-ignore-them method of dealing with toddler behavior does not work on spitting unless you are a very patient mommy. After much trial and error I found the most effective result was non-reactive time out. Any time my toddler spit I would silently pick him up, place him in time-out and say, “No spit, time-out” in a flat, boring tone. I would then ignore him entirely until time-out was done no matter what he did. While this may be a reaction, it’s not a fun reaction and it leads to a reduction of attention. After a month or so of this reaction on a very consistent basis, this toddler habit nearly disappeared.
Consistency is an important note to make. You must take the same action at any time, every time. Don’t let loving grandparents or relatives let your toddler get away with spitting. Don’t allow it in the grocery store where time out is impractical. Be consistent and follow through always.
How long does this wonderful toddler behavior typically last?
If your disciplinary attempts fail or are not entirely successful you can at least be comforted by the knowledge that spitting usually subsides as the toddler years fade into grade school, at least spitting on people. Many boys in particular will continue spitting in general if they see older males doing so. Be careful of negative influences on your child.
Read more from Unwirklich Van Zant:
Copy Cat Toddler: What to Do about Negative Influences on Your Child
What to Do When Your Toddler Won’t Keep Clothes On
Toddler Night Owls: What to Do About a Toddler That Stays Up All Night