How would you handle your 3 1/2 year old spitting in your face? - Mothering Forums

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Old 07-14-2008, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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DD will spit at me, DH and her little sister. She did it to me 3 times today one time was inside the DMV. She'll do it when DH or I put her in her carseat, put her clothes on, brush her hair, etc.

I have no idea how to handle this, it makes me want to smack her. We just tell her how disrespectful it is and rude and to please not do that.

What should I do?

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Old 07-14-2008, 08:18 PM
 
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My DD is very much into princesses, and I know that opens a whole can of worms, but what I do is tell her that princesses do not spit. I know it may be on the "wrong" side, but I say "Princesses do not (insert bad behaviour here) and it usually works fairly quickly. My cousins were big popeye fans and my aunt got them to eat spinach by saying, "eat your spinach, popeye eats spinach"
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:29 PM
 
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FWIW, we've been through that with dd, at exactly that age. Of all things, holy crap! And it's funny, because really we haven't had a lot of other behaviour issues. It's pretty much gone away, although we had a 'relapse' a couple of weeks ago when dd was mad at me for something and spit at me twice, in the face (she's now 4.5). Dh was there, and you've never seen a television go off so fast in your life! Then he put her in her room and closed the door. Bear in mind that we do NOT generally punish our child! Dh just felt something dramatic had to happen, as he put it. It's just basically gone away again and she's otherwise a great kid.

We never figured out any good way to deal with it. The only really helpful advice I got was about what NOT to do; i.e., let her know it got a special rise out of us. We just tried really hard to stay calm about it and let her know this was something people just.don't.do. We did, myself included, take her home from the playground/library or whatever a couple of times and like I said, we don't generally do that sort of thing. Whether those measures worked or she just outgrew it, I don't know. We got lots of people telling us it was because she didn't know how else to express her emotions or something and I can assure you that was NOT the case! Oh, and she bit a couple of times, too. Both those behaviours had me terrified she was on the road to becoming a bully or something, some horrible behaviour problems. But that never happened. There's something about being spit at by your child, though. I can still feel that anger when I think about it. I found I couldn't think straight enough to respond rationally and I had to really control myself. I wanted to smack her, too. But I didn't and we made it.
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:12 PM
 
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My worst parenting moment was when my Dd spit in my face. she was about
2 1/2 and I hit her. I shocked even myself.
So I don't recommend that route.
when my DS went through his spitting phase I learned from my past huge mistake.
He spit...I brought him into the bathroom quite matter of factly and said, "you can spit in the toilet...you can not spit at people" when you are angry you may growl (he wasn't verbal yet..late talker but fully understood) you may hit a pillow you know whatever anger release is OK.

We did this over and over and now he knows he CAN spit in the toilet or on the grass.

Try VERY hard not to take it personally. It is just lack of impulse control.

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Old 07-14-2008, 11:38 PM
 
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I have NO experience with this but for some reason this thread caught my eye because a couple ideas popped in my head (not that they'd work - i have no idea!):

could you try:
- Telling her to spit in her hands if she's mad?
- Giving her another outlet for her anger that is appealing like the ol' hitting a pillow or something outside that she can hit or spit on?
- Perhaps have a nice talk with her to change her perception of spitting and have her think of alternatives when she feels mad enough to spit. Then afterwards go spit watermelon seeds outside together and try to turn it into something fun to do instead of something to DO to others?

Good luck!
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Old 07-14-2008, 11:45 PM
 
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Whenever there is behavior like this, hitting, or hurting or spitting. I generally say, we do not spit. Then I ask my child if mommy has ever spit on her? Then I usually will say something like how would you feel if someone spit on you? And we talk about it. We offer an alternative, usually when we are mad, we say I am very angry. You hurt my feelings. etc. good luck!
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:02 AM
 
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We had some spitting, some here during the twins 3 year old year. I didn't make a big deal. I just told them to spit in the toilet or in a tissue, and I would either lead them to the toilet or a box of tissues.

Certain things like spitting or hitting are very big triggers for most people, so it is tough not to react. However the bigger the reaction, the more power it gives to the action. If she is spitting habitually when you are getting her into her carseat, I would have some tissues handy to give her for when she needs to spit. Treat it as a germs issue, and that germs need to go in tissues or down the toilet. Maybe even go to the library and look for a kids book about how germs spread sickness. I read several cute ones, but can't remember the names now.
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:45 AM
 
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This stood out to me...

She'll do it when DH or I put her in her carseat, put her clothes on, brush her hair, etc.

At 3.5 it seems she could be/wants to do these things herself. Maybe giving her more power/control will decrease the spitting.

BTW, Hugs, mama. I don't think I'd like being spit on one bit. Not one bit.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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Old 07-15-2008, 02:58 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ktmama View Post
This stood out to me...

She'll do it when DH or I put her in her carseat, put her clothes on, brush her hair, etc.

At 3.5 it seems she could be/wants to do these things herself. Maybe giving her more power/control will decrease the spitting.

BTW, Hugs, mama. I don't think I'd like being spit on one bit. Not one bit.
True that... dd dooes not like being fussed over... she "owns her own space and body" and doesn't like things being done for her or to her that she doesn't agree with. What if you were to take a new route for those things? Like, when it's time to get in the car seat, help her get as much of the strapping in done that she can do as possible. Then say something like, "Wow, you're rally getting the knack for this, and won't need help much longer!" Or "How would you like your hair done today? One pony-tail, two, or just clips to keep it out of your face?" Has she started dressing herself yet? How often can you let her pick and don whatever is to her liking on her own? Sometimes just giving new "power" to a 3 yo will alleviate conflict in other areas.

Dd did this for a time, very recently. She would raspberry-spit, and actually "pit-tewey" spit on us... it was rattling. One of the things that di NOT work was raspberry-spitting back... tho it totally grossed her out and gave her a second of "Oh, I see why that's yucky..."

What DID work was refusing to engage her when she spit. I would say... "You know Mama does NOT like that... I have a problem with that. I rspect you and treat you kindly, even when I'm frustrated... I expect you to treat me knidly too... and that is not kind." Then I disengage. Dd asked me once why I wasn't talking to her a few minutes later and I replied, "I'm still frustrated that you spit on me and I'm not ready to talk to you." She said..."I won't spit anymore Mama, will you talk to me now?" And she hasn't since then...

... Now she sticks her tongueout in frustration sometimes. I just tell her "I see you are frustrated, and I understand."
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Old 07-15-2008, 01:54 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kacymoose View Post
We had some spitting, some here during the twins 3 year old year. I didn't make a big deal. I just told them to spit in the toilet or in a tissue, and I would either lead them to the toilet or a box of tissues.

Certain things like spitting or hitting are very big triggers for most people, so it is tough not to react. However the bigger the reaction, the more power it gives to the action. If she is spitting habitually when you are getting her into her carseat, I would have some tissues handy to give her for when she needs to spit. Treat it as a germs issue, and that germs need to go in tissues or down the toilet. Maybe even go to the library and look for a kids book about how germs spread sickness. I read several cute ones, but can't remember the names now.
:

Its really hard to not react strongly to something like spitting, but the more we react, the more powerful we make spitting.

And anyway, our reaction to spitting is mainly cultural. Being spit on doesn't hurt. (unlike being hit). Getting mad about spitting is a learned response, and a child has no idea how powerful spitting is in our culture because she's so young. It will go away faster with minimal reaction. Its really hard to remain calm, though! I just think about all the other ways we "share" spit, me and her (drinking from the same glass, getting slurped when she's pretending to be a puppy, getting drooled on when she was a babe) and try to put it in the same category as a culturally-inappropriate protest to what she doesn't want.

Another PP mentioned that she is probably feeling a lack of control. That doesn't mean that spitting is an okay way to express that, but maybe you could combine a calm correction (spit goes in the sink; lets clean this up) with finding more opportunities for her to be in control in those instances where she is spitting. Its a pain but I've found that giving my DD a few minutes to dink around in the car before getting into her seat and giving her a choice of "would you like to climb into your carseat or do you want me to help you get in?" (given as a choice, not meant as a threat) helps a bit with the carseat issue.
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Old 07-15-2008, 03:03 PM
 
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Honestly, if it was my preschooler, I'd probably say in a strong tone, "that's nasty, that's gross, don't do that again to me, I don't want to be with somebody who does that to me." And then I'd walk away from her and leave her to her own devices for awhile. I would swallow my anger and try to be as calm and steady as possible, so that I wouldn't reinforce it with an emotional reaction. But I'd definitely try and draw a clear line in the sand. I don't think it harms them to know that they can sometimes push me TOO FAR and that I'm not going to hang around and put up with it.

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Old 07-15-2008, 03:53 PM
 
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My 3.5 DD just started spitting too. We never went through that with DS so it was very surprising to us.

I told her spitting on people was not acceptable and asked her to name some places where she could spit. We came up with toilet, trash, grass, sink, etc. So when she spits now, I always ask "Where is it ok to spit?"
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Old 07-16-2008, 03:13 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all the advice!

DD spit at me today and I told her that was gross, and that we only spit in the toilet, trash, or grass, and I had her go to the bathroom with me to clean it off my arm and flush it. She only did it to me once today where yesterday it was 4 times.

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Old 07-16-2008, 03:34 AM
 
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Nice!
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Old 07-16-2008, 04:22 AM
 
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My dd went through big spitting phase around this age. When she started spitting on her babysitter, who was visibly upset by it, I just told her "Mommy and Daddy will love you no matter what you do. But other people are not going to want to be around you if you spit on them". She stopped spitting instantly. Sometimes kids just don't get how repugnant a behavior is.
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