How Do You Stop Spitting Behavior?

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How to stop spitting behavior depends on the motivation and age of the spitter. Children who spit because they are going through a phase or picking up a habit should be handled differently than children who spit in anger, and adults who spit must address their own motivations, from bad habits to the side effects of medication.

If a toddler spits as an experiment, he should be gently but firmly corrected. Toddlers are learning about their world, their bodies and the rules of behavior, and as long as they are not acting in anger, spitting should be seen as one more chance to teach appropriate and inappropriate behavior. Responding to spitting in anger, in toddlers or preschoolers, requires restraint on the part of the adult. Negative consequences like time outs, loss of privileges and making the child clean up his own spit can be effective in stopping spitting behavior. Some older children develop a habit of spitting or spit because it makes them look cool. These children should be reminded that spitting is socially inappropriate behavior that can bring negative consequences, such as school punishments or social isolation. A child should be made to apologize every time he is caught spitting.

Adults can spit for a variety of reasons. Many pregnant women experience an increase in saliva which can lead to the urge to spit. Sucking on lemons or limes, cutting back on sugar and placing ground coffee under the tongue may cut back on saliva production. Spitting in adults can also be a sign of OCD or Tourette Syndrome or the side effect of certain medications; a doctor visit can help determine the cause of the spitting and a course of action to eliminate it.