Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spit Happens

The boy. He is spitting. A lot.

Remember when babies learn how to blow raspberries and it's the cutest freaking thing ever and you encourage them to keep doing it precisely because it's the cutest freaking thing ever and then you pick them up and blow raspberries on their little baby bellies and they giggle and blow more raspberries and OHMYFREAKINGGOD, THE CUTE!!!!!!

Remember that? Yeah. Good times.

It is, however, slightly less "cutest freaking thing ever" when that little baby has turned into a two-months-shy of 4 year old and has suddenly decided that blowing big juicy, slobbery raspberries is the COOLEST thing ever.

I know. Because that kid is mine. My kid. Is a spitter. Sigh.

It started a couple weeks ago; at first, he was just blowing raspberries while he played, or using them as punctuation at the end sentences. Example, "Dinner was good. Can I go play now? pppppbbbbbbttttttt." At first, Husband and I chuckled or smiled. He's a cute kid. He does cute things.

But then? The raspberries started coming fast and furious, and inappropriately, in peoples' faces, young and old(er) alike. His friends? He'll blow raspberries on them. His teachers? Yup. Husband & me? Right-o. Raspberries all around. And during cold & flu season. So, that makes him a BIG hit with the other parents. We're so proud.

Two days ago, his teacher pulled me aside to let me know that his friends are starting to get fed up with the spitting, and that she had to excuse him from several activities because of the spitting. And my stomach sank. My kid? My sweet, adorable, loving, amazing child is *that* kid. The one that, right now, no one wants to play with. Because he blows icky, germy, wet raspberries in their faces and laughs. One of my friend's little girl is sick right now and I can't help but wonder---did MY kid raspberry her kid's immune system into submission? Oy.

We've talked to him. We've talked about alternatives to spitting. We've talked about using words if we're frustrated and other ways to try to be funny when we want to make our friends laugh (because spitting is so NOT funny, kid!!!). We've done time-outs. We've cancelled playdates, because if you're just going to spit on your friends, we're not going to ask them to come over for that. There have been floods of tears. There have been apologies. There have been promises that the spitting is done.

And then there has been more spitting.

What is a mother to do?! I really want my kid to be a free spirit and express himself in a fun and playful way. I struggle with the fear of breaking his spirit. But the spitting has to stop because it totally gets in people's space, they don't like it (again, with the omg, he's *that* kid) and frankly, it's just gross. He can't really be a free spirit at the expense of other peoples' personal space and health, right?! That's what I thought. But the things that always work to redirect his iffy behavior just aren't working.

So I ask you, WHAT do I do next? How do we make our home a spit-free environment so we can go back to having play dates, and Mama's not biting her nails down the quick every day at preschool pick-up. Help me, interwebs!


Sarah said...

Harry spits, too.

So, so, so gross.

We just walk away from him and totally ignore it. It is happening less and less lately, but it was a BIG phase. Yuck.

Becca said...

I have no idea! I'll be reading along though. I'm sure it will happen to us.

AJU5's Mom said...

I guess my daughter is "ahead" of the curve - she started spitting about a month or two ago (at 2 years old). At first we did what you did - told her to stop, took away things, punished her, etc. And, like you found, it didn't work. So, we started to ignore the behavior. And, it seems to have worked. She hasn't spit (except when trying to get something out of her mouth that she didn't like) in a week or two. So, maybe he is doing it for attention?

gringa said...

I agree with the "ignoring it" even though that's hard--because it is an attention getter.

He did get attention at first because it was "cute" -- and now he's still getting attention because its "gross". Either way he's getting attention.

He'll have to learn to deal with "negative attention" in pre- school and maybe he'll have to be kept home for a few days if he is too obnoxious, but I would be very low key about it. If the teacher could convince the other kids to just walk away, that would be the best thing.

Corinne said...

So not fun. It must be the thing to do when you're in your preschool years...
Ignore ignore ignore :)

Amy said...

Definitely ignore. But they can't ignore it at school, which sucks. I would talk to them and see if they can work something out where if he goes so long (10, 15 min) without spitting then he gets a sticker. At the end of the morning, if he earns three stickers, you take him for a special lunch. Or, maybe if he doesn't spit at all, you take him for special lunch.

Chiconky said...

My son was a licker more than a spitter, but he's done both. The thing that worked best for us was every time he licked a person/spit we made him lick a drop of the green Tabasco "to remember that spitting and licking can make people sick." Worked like a charm. Now I'll be waiting for CPS to ring the doorbell, since I can't believe I just admitted that.

Emi said...

I don't know what to advise... but I will provide my 2 cents about what may not be the best way to handle it in my opinion. I think the sticker thing or reward is problematic because then the lesson he may learn is that he only needs to do things (that he should be doing or not doing anyway) only if he gets something for it and then really where does it all stop. The fact is, it is not appropriate behavior to do around other people or their faces so I would think it would be better if he learned (somehow don't know how :-) through being self-motivated not because of he will get a prize. I think I mentioned positive discipline a while back and I have found it very helpful to deal with a lot of the challenges with S...