When Toddlers Spit, Stomp, and Yell: Ask Mrs. Manners

Suzanne Murray


flickr: Photo by anomalous4

The toddler years are the perfect age to start teaching your kids manners and good habits. And MrsManners (Angela Pitre), founder of  Family Manners Made Fun, is here to help.

Dear MrsManners,

I need help! My two-year-old hits me, spits in my face, yells, "No!" and stomps her foot when she doesn't get her way. What should I do? -- byfarperfect09

Dear byfarperfect09,

As far as manners go, the answer is obvious: Your daughter shouldn't spit, hit, or stomp her feet -- end of story! So how do you get her to stop?

At two, your daughter is experiencing new things for the first time every day, such as stomping, hitting, and spitting. She may have come up with these things on her own or she may have picked them up from another child or even  a TV show.

The first thing you need to do is to figure out where she learned the behavior. Watch the programs she watches to see if it is happening there. You need to be aware of what your daughter is watching because, at two years old, she's extremely impressionable and she will pick up way more than you think.

Examine your behavior and that of the other adults (and big kids) around her. She may be mirroring behavior that she sees, and unless that behavior is changed across the board, hers will not change. 

So first, you have to figure out where the behavior comes from and put a stop to it. Then you must discipline her for her bad behavior. There are many ways to discipline your child and that is a personal preference, but one thing I will say, is that using more violence to punish kids who are acting violent only aggravates the problem. In other words, don't hit your child if you are trying to teach them not to hit. Take some time and figure out what is most effective for your child.

Here's what we did when my son spit at my husband:
We explained to him in a very stern tone that he was being naughty, it was not okay, and put him in time out immediately.  We told him that he didn't get three tries because what he did was just that bad. He had to apologize when he got up from his time out. When he did this to my husband again he was put in time out immediately. There was not a third time.

If these issues continue, and you have tried everything you can think of, then it is time to talk to your family doctor. There is always a chance that there could be a behavioral problem that is out of her control -- and yours -- at the moment. 

Good luck getting this worked out and remember to make sure that everyone in your home is on board and being consistent with your daughter or else you will not find the success you are looking for! 


(Angela W. Pitre)

If you have a question about toddlers and manners, send it to MrsManners or post it in the comments below.

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