13 answers

Son Won't Stop Spitting at His Classmates

Help! My 6 year-old kindergarten son is spitting at his classmates. The teacher and I have explained how the spit has germs and can cause other students to get sick. There seems to be no rhyme/reason why he is doing this. He just seems to get a kick out of it. He lost his recess today after he would not stop doing it during class. I know someone who recommended putting tabasco sauce in his mouth if he does it again! I don't know if I could do that, since I have never witnessed him doing this at home or to his friends in the neighborhood. He only does it at school. If anyone has any disciplinary suggestions, please let me know! thanks

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You might try giving him a container/jar to spit into and tell him he has to fill it up! Everytime he spits at someone, bring out the jar, sit him down & tell him to start spitting--it will take the fun out of it for him, hopefully. Good-luck!

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There is probably something going on, especially since your son is only spitting at school. I would try very hard to discover the cause of his behavior before attacking the symptoms (sounds like western medicine, right?) Are parents allowed to observe at his school? My husband and I are both teachers, so feel free to keep communication as your investigation develops!

My guess as to why he's doing this is that either he's being teased or most likey, he's getting a huge reaction from the kids he spitting on & he likes that. I would also disagree w/the tabasco sauce or soap as the school will not use that sort of discipline & therefor, it would have to be done at home after school, after the acts have already been committed. He needs to get the consequence as soon as he misbehaves to equate the two. I think the idea of a behavior contract is a good idea. I suggest the teacher keep this just between she & your son cuz once other kids find out about it, then this will just add to his problems. I'd also nip this in the bud ASAP so he doesn't get a bad rep from the other kids. It will start to effect his friendships. This is hard one cuz you want it to go away but you also don't want to keep giving attention to it in any way. Are there certain kids he spits on? Maybe the teacher could quietly talk to them & tell them to ignore him & walk away when he starts spitting. Hope this helps & good luck!

Hi Laraine!

I to have a kindergarten now and also does things at school that's not appropriate. The teacher and i communicate of regarding his behavior and the consinquences he gets from her. When my son gets home i make sure that what ever the unappropriate behavior he does at school will also get punished by his parents as well by taking something away from him like toys, etc. We have to let him know to that the teachers and the parents are in the same page and made sure he understands that what ever he does wrong at school will also affect his previlages at home too. Then my son realizes the losses he gets and immediately responded with a good attitude and even made sure he wakes up in th morning getting ready and reminds us that he will try his best to behave well at school:) occasionally he still makes mistakes at school but he now tells us immediately what happpens. To me that's a sign of actknowledgement of his own action:) As long you're on top of it and stick with the rules, they will know. Kids will always make mistakes but as long we keep guiding them the right directions at all times!!

Dear Laraine,
Patricia W was right soap or hot sauce does the trick. He is a boy and they think it is funny. Guess what girls do to. Do this once or twice and it will stop. You may not see it happen but you know it is and he knows he is wrong. He needs disipline to learn self control. That is our job. Been there 5 times over.

Hi Laraine

Does your son actually "spit", or does he make tongue motor boat noises that "spit"?

You didn't mention what your son's response is as to why he does this. I'm VERY curious to that response.

He's old enough to know better, and to stop doing something the teacher has requested of him. If he is still doing it after his teacher has asked him to, then you have a discipline problem on your hands, and he WILL be sent to the Principal's office for it soon. Does he have a learning disability to prevent him from doing what he has been told?

I wouldn't use tobassco sauce, because you're not there when it happens, and punishing like that him after school could make things worse.

I need to be honest, if my child was in your Kindergarten class, and my child came home telling me that someone "spit" on him.....then I would be in the Principals office making sure they handled it properly. You and your teacher are being awfully nice letting this continue..

I would tell the teacher if he does it again, the he loses his "free choice" play time (or whatever) because he has to clean the Kindergarten room of germs that he has been spitting everywhere. He should be cleaning with Lysol Wipes each day he spits in the classroom, so he connects with the "germs" of the issue.

Whatever it takes, you need to get a handle on this issue. It's not just about spitting, it's about disrespecting you and the teacher at a young age. This is your problem that you need to get a grip on and take charge of and NOT let him get away with it......otherwise, you'll be in for a wild ride with this child as he gets older.

:o) N.

I hate to say it, but maybe someone should spit on him. Maybe he doesn't realize just how horrible it is to be spat on. and then perhaps writing sentences would help. I know he can't spell, but I have done this with my granddaughter for punishment. (she is also 6 in kindergargen) I write out the sentence and then she has to copy it 10 times. It takes a kindergartner a long time to copy a sentence 10 times! My thought is if he's only doing it at school, he knows that he shouldn't be doing it but feels like he can get away with things when he's not at home. You have to punish him at home as if he did it at home so he will know that he doesn't get away with ANYTHING just because he's not at home and you're not there to witness it.

I can't help but notice the comment about how you don't know if you could do the tabasco since you've never witnessed him do the spitting. What do you mean by that? Are you thinking the teacher is making it up? I'm sorry if that seems rude to ask, but as a teacher we see it all the time. I really like what another member said about making a home/school contract so that your son knows that you and the teacher are on the same page. I think if you show your son that you are willing to back up the teacher at school by following through at home, that it will stop immediately. Best of luck, and thanks for being the kind of parent who cares enough to find solutions, these days, too many don't.

Start by taking his favorite toy away. Everytime he does it he loses another toy. He does not get any toys back until the behavior stops. This will work for other situations too. But the others are right, soap will work for naughty mouths. Just remember to follow up with some milk so you don't cause diarreha. :)

Hi Laraine,
I think there is more to this then meets the eye, I would find out quickly. What is going on right before? Is he being teased or making fun of? Is he spitting or is he just making the noise with his tongue? I mean if he is hauking out that is gross and as another Mom pointed out other parents have a right to be offended. I feel like your son is doing this to prove a point of control and you might want to go quietly observe, I agree that he has to clean the part of the classroom as punishment, but more importantly, spitting is a really offensive thing to do and I think your son knows this, finding out why, is the most important, and at who, is it all the kids, certain kids, what is going on right before? Is he angry? I think he has something going on that clearly needs addressed and I think you need to get involved, I do not think tabasco is the answer but you need to work with the teacher to help get this resolved, he needs to know school is an extention of home and the behavior follows. Good Luck!

Hi Laraine -

As a psychologist, I agree that you should do a little exploration as to why he might be so enthralled with this behavior and make sure there is no underlying issue.

As a mom, I can tell you that I'm about 99% certain that he is doing this 'just cuz', and because the other kids are egging him on, either in actuality or through some sort of desired response on their side (e.g., girls screaming "GROSS!" and boys going "Awesome lugey, dood!")

Being a girl and a parent, I agree with the GROSS assessment. And, believe it or not, the THREAT of Tabasco is probably a very good way to go. A Japanese friend of mine used Wasabi as her weapon of choice -- I think her boys only actually had a dab put on their tongues twice each over a period of about 8 years. It was so powerful of a punishment, that all of their FRIENDS knew better than to swear, be disrespectful, etc. My son certainly learned this when he was 7 from her. Now, at age 15, all I have to do is threaten to get my little of tin of Wasabi out of the spice cupboard...;)

You could simply 'spike' a portion of his dinner one night, and when he complains tell him -- Hmm, sorry, guess I spilled the Tabasco while I was getting it out of the cupboard. By the way, one more incident of spitting, and your dinner will be spiked with Tabasco EVERY night, bucko! You may have to do it one more time, but after that, just the mere mention of the fiery stuff will likely do the trick.

Our parents weren't always wrong!


You might try giving him a container/jar to spit into and tell him he has to fill it up! Everytime he spits at someone, bring out the jar, sit him down & tell him to start spitting--it will take the fun out of it for him, hopefully. Good-luck!

Hi Laraine,
Your son's teacher (and other adults at school) need to pay closer attention to what's going on with your son. Maybe there seems to be no rhyme or reason because they are missing whatever is provoking him. Either way, though, your son must learn that spitting is not an appropriate response. You and his teacher might be able to help him learn how to express his feelings through words. Have you asked him why he does this? Don't make suggestions, though, because, if he's anything like my 5 year-old, he'll just choose one of them, and you'll never know the truth. He is definitely old enought to know he should not spit. I agree with the poster who suggested the contract and sticker chart, and he definitely needs concrete consequences for his behavior when it happens. At school! Kids that age need the consequence to be immediate. The teacher needs to continue with consequences. Again, though, the adults at school need to monitor what is happening with him. Personally, I don't think you should need to resort to Tabasco, or whatever, but I haven't dealt with this specific issue (my son just likes to make gurgling sounds with his spit -- charming, no?). I would guess that one of four things is happening: something at school is upsetting him, he likes the attention he gets from his teacher or maybe the other kids for this behavior, he is being provoked (though needs to learn a better way to respond), and/or his teacher is having trouble with effectively disciplining and rewarding him. The reward side is important to remember, as kids (like adults!) often respond better to positive reinforcement than just consequences (I'm a huge fan of consequences, but a balance seems to be more effective). Does the school have a counselor? Many do, and I'm sure your son won't be the first spitter he/she has met! Perhaps he/she can get to the bottom of this.

Work with the teacher to create a contract type sheet. It clearly states behaviors that are expected. Have some he does already. One would be respect peers (no spitting). If he is respectful, he gets a star or mark in that box. He brings home the sheet each day, at first, and there is a discussion about his day and how he earned his stars. There might also be a discussion about how he could earn the stars that are not on the chart (when he spits) and what he could do to earn them.

Maybe the class could talk to him about what they like about his...I love playing in the block area because you're a good builder. I love working next to you when you don't spit at me.

Then there is the ...leave the activity approach. Every time he spits, he's removed from the activity. The neg is that gives attention to the neg. behavior.

There's a reason he is doing it and not able to explain. That has to be found out first.

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