My 2 and half year old son Jasiri has been spitting in my face whenever he feels like it. To him, it’s a game that’s so thrilling. And however much I apprehend him, he just doesn’t seem to stop. This is huge misbehavior in my book and a tipping point for crazy dad.
Recently, his grandparents visited us, he was so excited to see his grandma that he kept jumping up and down with his brother Jordan. They hugged Grandma, talked, exchanged kisses. And for a moment everything was going on so well until he started spitting on mon then me and finally his grandma.
He kept on doing it and any effort to stop him hit a dead end. I was boiling with anger. I tried desperately to control myself from bursting out. To make matters worse, everyone had gathered to pray. But they wouldn’t calm down. Finally, I lost it and pinched him so hard, I felt the pain myself. He cried for less than a minute, then went to his grandma for consolation.
For a minute, we all thought. Finally, that had worked. Everyone looked at him and told him to apologize. Which he did so sweetly, that we were all moved. Only for him to spit again at his grandma and burst into laughter. At this point, I didn’t know what else to do.
This behavior has been going on for a while, and I have been looking for the best ways to deal with it. His older 4-year-old brother is not helping either, he keeps on encouraging him to do it. And they end up doing it together.
That’s why I decided to reach out to a child psychologist to help me deal with the issue. And here are some of the ways he suggested that I think might be useful to you too:
Do Not Spank
Unfortunately, spanking or time out or pinching, or any other form of pain-inflicting punishment are not the best long-term solution. While they may have worked for you in the short run, you have to ask yourself at what expense? Any discipline such as those that I have mentioned, will erode your relationship with your child over the long haul. So while this may have expedited a solution to your current problem, you almost certainly will experience a backlash at some point in the future when you lose authority and respect from your child.
Take Time & Understand Your Child.
Kids spit for so many reasons, it could be to show disappointment, or rebellion, or just for fun. Staying calm and understanding why your child is doing it could help you come up with the best effective way to respond. I know the disrespect combined with the disgust that accompanies spitting might cause even the calmest to lose their temper. But when your child loses their cool, the best thing you can do is role model how to deal with your emotions in a socially appropriate way. Yelling or shouting will not help. If you are upset, walk away for a few minutes until you are calm enough to deal with the situation.
Know That Each spitting Case is Different.
While we may think that the only reason why kids spit is that they are just badly behaved. Others simply do it for fun. It is important to take each case of spitting and analyze it separately then focus on the best approach. Toddlers don’t just do anything without a reason and that reason is important to decide what to do about it.
Let Your Child Know Spitting Is Unacceptable
As much as you may be boiling with anger, avoid the urge to give a lengthy lecture or scolding your child endlessly. Just a quick simple reminder that “spitting is gross,” or “spitting is inappropriate,” is all you need. Do not get tired of doing it. Repeat it every time he/ she spits. Make sure you are firm.
Try out Restitution
There are cases where your child has spit on someone else or their property. The best thing to do is restitution. For instance, you can let your child loan out to the victim something that they love. Doing something kind for the victim can help them make amends.
Affirm Good Behavior
Many a time we like reprimanding bad behavior, but coming up with a reward system can work wonders especially in this scenario. Have a behavior chat, you can find one online. Your child can then earn points or stickers for managing their behavior well. They then exchange the stickers or points for tangible rewards, like TV time or an opportunity to play their favorite game with the family.
Let Him Clean It Up
Choices have consequences, and what a better way to let your child know this by calmly but firmly asking them to clean the spit-up. They will not like it, they may not even do it the first time, but don’t give up, stay with them there until they do it. If they do not, withdraw certain privileges. Let them know that one doesn’t get away with bad behavior.
I have started practicing the above and I must admit it’s not easy, the amount of patience and grace needed is overwhelming, but I know I have to. Because at the end of the day, I want my child to learn by himself through my best practices and example.