Join the Meeting Place for Moms!
Talk to other moms, share advice, and have fun!

(minimum 6 characters)

3 Bumps


One of my three year old twins has starting spitting. He will just walk up to something and spit on it. Has anyone else experienced this? Any advice?

Answer Question

Asked by TALuke at 12:15 PM on Jul. 23, 2013 in Preschoolers (3-4)

Level 18 (6,197 Credits)
Answers (8)
  • I have, but my son was older, you need to nip this in the bud and now, put his behind in time out everytime he does it. They will get suspended from school-preschool, kindergarten etc.

    Answer by 2kids2dogs2cats at 12:20 PM on Jul. 23, 2013

  • Mine has talked about it, thanks to seeing a boy at school doing it, but she's never actually worked up the nerve to try it yet. I think she's impressed because spitting is such a taboo thing.

    Answer by Ballad at 3:22 PM on Jul. 23, 2013

  • If you let it go too long, it will become a malicious habit. Try your best to stop it now.
    If you spank, then go ahead with that.
    If not, try some other form of punishment and let them know that this will NOT be tolerated and it is not funny.
    Any time they do it, it should be punished. Every time. Until the habit is broken.

    Answer by Ruthmom802 at 3:29 PM on Jul. 23, 2013

  • The bigger the adult reaction to this the longer it will happen. Stay calm and say 'no spitting'. Have him help wipe it up each time. You need to simply be a teacher for what is allowed and what isn't. Kids don't know these things automatically. GL

    Answer by silverthreads at 3:44 PM on Jul. 23, 2013

  • I agree that the more intense your reaction (and your attempt to "nip this in the bud") is, the more likely it is to remain an issue. That's because of the emotional heat around it, and also the fact that it's happening for a reason. Don't add more "fuel" to that reason.
    From what you wrote, it's not clear that the behavior is anything more than sensory & experimental. (Discovering that he CAN do something, and trying it out.) If you reacted negatively to it when it was simply exploratory, that probably introduced some "extra" stuff around the behavior. But overall if spitting is not primarily seeming to express anger, protest or frustration, I would recommend NOT responding in a way that is likely TO introduce that into the behavior!
    So, if it seems playful or experimental, curious, treat it in practical terms. Just tell him where he should do his spitting. (Ex.: Outside, off the deck, into the sink or tub.)

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:43 AM on Jul. 24, 2013

  • If you notice that he is doing it more as an expression of emotional tension or disconnect (so the behavior is "acting out" his inner emotional state) then he is signaling for help, just as with any other off-track behavior. The more triggered you are as a parent (and spitting is typically very triggering for parents!) the less able you will be to help him, and the more likely that your reaction will add to the tension he's carrying. And the behavior will be MORE likely to surface when he's feeling stressed, disconnected, angry, frustrated or otherwise off-track.
    "Signaling for help" is not a consciously intentional thing. But it's an inborn healing instinct. The things that hurt will tend to come out, so that healing is possible! This backfires when those behaviors (hitting, throwing, spitting) earn a punitive response because their signal is missed & the underlying cause isn't addressed.
    See it as a need for more connection.

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:51 AM on Jul. 24, 2013

  • I wrote my husband an email about how to respond to spitting when that behavior surfaced briefly with one of our boys (also twins, also three years old at the time!) lol
    When I get a chance (will need more time to do this) I will see if I can find the message & copy some of the ideas, if that might be helpful to you.

    I knew it was important to respond in a more connected, playful way than a rigid, intense way, if it was to be helpful in addressing the underlying issue. I also didn't want to project onto the child/behavior (because it didn't have the same "meaning" to him as for us, and I wanted us to be attuned to what actually going on for him rather than projecting our interpretations of the behavior.) But I knew that goal would be hard to manage in the moment, because the behavior is so upsetting & it's easy to get rigid & reactive, which is why I put thought into helpful responses OUTSIDE the moment, in an email.

    Answer by girlwithC at 9:57 AM on Jul. 24, 2013

  • I had no tolerance for that, personally. I'd be very quick and loud with "NO! GROSS! No spitting!"

    Answer by hibbingmom at 5:06 PM on Jul. 24, 2013

Join CafeMom now to contribute your answer and become part of our community. It's free and takes just a minute.