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January 24, 2007 / missknowitall

Spitting Mad

Dear Little Miss,

My four year old seems to have a fixation with his mouth – especially saliva.  He’ll spit on just about anything and everything – slowly watching it slide down things.  Do you have any suggestions on how to curb this behavior without physical punishments? 

Dear Spitting Mad Momma,

What is it with boys and gross things?  I swear a little boy’s main goal in life is to make his mother gross out to the point of vomiting, and that is only because he thinks a vomiting mother would be “cool” to see.  Seriously now, he has just found a really interesting way to entertain himself and it obviously isn’t gross to him. There is no need to punish him because he isn’t trying to harm anyone or himself, and he isn’t trying to be “bad” on purpose.  However, this is a habit you want to nip in the bud.  The “punishment” should always fit the “crime”.   Don’t get mad or give an excited reaction when he spits.  Just firmly, and calmly, say “Yucky, we don’t spit, it’s not good.  You need to clean up the mess”.  Set the routine that every time he spits he has to stop what he is doing, he has to clean up the spit and then he needs to wash his hands.  After a week or two of all this cleaning and being removed from his play time he will realize that it isn’t worth all the fuss to keep spitting.  If he ever spits to be mean or to blatantly disobey you then he should be given a time out, too, for bad behavior.  This will take effort and action on your part and will be just as much an inconvenience to you as to him.  Sorry, but that’s just the way parenting works.  Don’t forget to thank him for not spitting on the spit free days.  Tell him he is such a big boy for not spitting.  If you forget to give him good attention when he isn’t doing the bad action he will gladly take the bad attention instead.   

If all else fails, start wearing water proof ponchos =). 

Good luck, I think you’ll need it!

Miss Knowitall 

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