A child often spits to illicit a reaction from adults or to show contempt for something when verbal explanation isn't possible. Spitting is a habit that can follow your child throughout life and cause problems, so it's important to do what you can to make your child stop spitting as soon as you notice a problem. Through patience, gentle probing and natural consequences, you can show your child that spitting is wrong and it will not be tolerated.
Refuse to react when your child spits. Your child spits knowing that it's shocking behavior and to illicit a negative reaction from you as an adult. By not reacting, you tell your child that his spitting is not impressive. Instead of yelling or expressing surprise, move quickly into your natural consequences or discipline to show him that it is unacceptable behavior and that it doesn't give him what he wants.
Ask that your child clean the spittle and apologize in a calm and controlled manner. If your child refuses, consider discipline, such as a removal of privileges or a timeout in her room. If she agrees to the clean-up and apology, hand her a towel and explain to her calmly that spitting spreads germs and is not an acceptable way to use her body.
Teach your child verbal and healthy ways to react and display her emotions. Explain that spitting isn't okay, but other methods, like talking about her feelings, drawing a picture or letting an adult know can help her express anger in a more constructive way. Model these positive methods of dealing with anger and sadness to provide your child with a good example.
Explore alternative reasons for the spitting. If your child doesn't seem to be spitting when dealing with emotions like anger, sadness and fear, his spitting could actually be a form of obsessive compulsive disorder, notes psychotherapist for mentalhelp.net, Allan Schwartz. Frequent spitting could also be the sign of a sensory disorder, for which your child will need medical diagnosis.