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Advice about Biting
My Child is Biting!
My Child is Being Bitten
My one year old has recently started biting me. He goes for anywhere he can- the arm, leg, stomach, chest. He has a lot of teeth and it HURTS! After yelping in pain, I look at him sternly and say ''No biting, that hurts mamma. Biting is for food only.'' He finds this very funny and laughs and tries to do it again. So far he has only done it to me and my husband, but I'm scared that he will start biting other kids. I would like to (no pun intended) nip this in the bud ASAP; I know how dangerous human bites are. He hasn't broken skin yet, but is well on his way. Is 1 too young for some sort of modified time out? How have others dealt with this? I checked the archives and didn't see this addressed. Thanks! mill
My daughter just turned one and is now all of a sudden enjoying biting. When we're playing on the bed she goes after me with her mouth open. If I tell her no she thinks it's funny and does it even more. I hope this isn't a sign of things to come! She is with a caretaker everyday for about 7 hours. Some afternoons she is with a 2 year old who has had problems with biting. She bit my daughter once (that I know of). I'm not sure if she is learning this behavior or if it's just something that feels good to her. Maybe she has the urge to clamp down. Nevertheless, i want to discourage it but am not sure how. Have any of you dealt with anything like this? I've read about 2 year olds doing this and the possible reasons but not a one year old. HELP
1) My responses that showed the least amount of upset were the most effective. Any kind of angry talking or even time outs made him think of it as more of a game than anything else. The thing that seemed most effective was immediately moving away from him and ignoring him for a minute or two. This really made an impact on him, and as he finally started getting verbal, after this would happen I would say to him, "What did you do that you shouldn't have done?" and he'd say "bite," immediately, so he understood what was happening.
2) The books will tell you that it's often related to speech delay or frustration about speech. Your child seems young for that, but if she has a very verbal older sibling, that might have something to do with it. Certainly my child's biting behavior has all but disappeared only since he began being able to express himself verbally (at which he was on the late side).
3) Too late, I heard about a method that I think would have solved a lot of the problems biting raised for my son, and I'd strongly suggest that if you think you have a chronic biter you consider if she's this kind of biter. As I said, I always had this feeling that my son bit because he had to, not because he was angry, but because he needed to experience the world this way. I guess I thought this because a) every traditionally recommended tactic for dealing with biting was useless on him and b) there came a point when he got a bit more mature that he began to bite himself, and, if you observed him, he was doing it when he had the urge to bite someone else--he really was trying to self-regulate, but he just didn't have the control skills yet (he's in daycare, so this obviously was an ongoing problem), and c) all the books will also tell you that normal biting behaviour ends in--at the outside--a few months, and my son had been at it for close to a year, and yet he's happy, healthy and very loving and lovable, so he didn't seem to have any other chronic behaviour problems. Anyway, I only recently read that there are clearly children who have this...ahem...tactile approach to the world, and the best way to help them is not to try to get them not to bite, but to provide them with a biting toy--a thing it's ok for them to bite when they feel the need, like a small stuffed animal that you could attach to their wrist with some elastic or something. And you "train" them that every time they have the urge to bite it's not ok to bite people, but it is ok to bite the stuffed bear or lion or whatever. Some might say this sends a mixed message, but if you have the kind of child who simply can't NOT do something, I think you have to work with rather than against it. By the time I had read about this method, my son was improving on his own, but it would have been a lifesaver earlier on.
4) And that's the last point. True to the books' wisdom, my son *is* outgrowing his problem without any really successful interventions on my part, and I think most kids do, even the ones who take longer than they're supposed to, like mine (you'd think I would have learned this lesson already since he was a colicky baby and that seemingly endless horror also went away at the designated time).
Sorry to be so long-winded. You don't yet know if you even have an ongoing problem, but if you do, I hope this helps. By the way, I do think exposure to other biters exacerbates the problem--there was another chronic biter in my son's daycare room and I'm sure they fed off each other, forgive the pun. But that's the risk you run letting your kid out into the world!
My 13.5 month old has started purposely biting me when he's angry or frustrated. For example, I'll wipe his nose, which he doesn't like, and the second I'm finished he'll reach over, grab my finger, put it in his mouth, and bite so hard that his head shakes and he leaves huge teeth marks in me. It really hurts, and I'm actually afraid he'll break the skin! More than that, I'm afraid it's just going to get worse. This is something I want to nip in the bud (so to speak), but I'm not sure how to do it. Things I've read have indicated that this is too young an age to understand a simple ''no'', or to understand a time out. I've tried distracting him (i.e., ''kisses instead'', followed by kisses), but that isn't working at all. Any suggestions?
I liked some of the archived advice. However, if you find it doesn't work, you can try what my mother did (my child doesn't have teeth yet, so I haven't had to deal with this): she bit me back. It may sound harsh, but it worked like a charm--and no, I wasn't traumatized for life (I don't even remember it), nor was my mother abusive- she didn't break the skin, she bit me hard enough to get the point across, which it did! According to her, I never bit again. I suggest this as a last resort, of course, because it IS imperitive that your child stop biting! Best of luck. Once bitten!
My 15 month old grandson is full of energy ... a physical little boy who is always on the move. He seems to have two speeds: high gear or sleeping, with occasional neutral (will sit quietly and watch TV with you). He is affectionate, but does not seem to know yet how to express this. He will give you a big hug, put his arms around your leg or neck if you're holding him, will act like he's kissing you, but then BITES you, really, really hard. He will also pinch any exposed skin, especially on your legs, between pants and socks, or bare feet. He will pinch your arms and hands. We all have flesh wounds from his scratches and pinches. My daughter trims his nails often, but it still hurts. She also thinks reacting to his behavior, as in yells of pain, encourages him to do it more. Well, it HURTS.
I had two girls who never did these things. Is this normal boy behavior? How does one teach a 15 month old baby to stop biting and scratching and grabbing and hurting others? anonymous
This child needs to learn that he cannot hurt you, or other people, and ignoring will, perhaps, only make him try harder, though it might make him get tired of it, but I also believe that he can learn that it will cause him to be deprived of interaction, which will likely make him stop.
There is also the possibility that he gets overstimulated by affection or by interpersonal interaction and that is why he responds by intensifying his response. Giving him space to breath might be helpful with that, too, if that is in fact the problem. Remember that children have few internal regulations and if he feels overwhelmed by hugging/kissing, he may respond more intensely to defray the intensity. they also have no power, and if he's uncomfortable with the amount of closeness, but he has no power to stop big adults from enveloping him for too long, he may need to stop it by pinching, biting, whatever. Although I'm not suggesting there's a serious problem, autistic children have an intense problem with closeness and being overstimulated. Perhaps you need to let your grandson decide how much physical engagement he can handle, and let him decide when enough is enough. Obviously, I'm only guessing, but it's possible he's in overload, so he hurts you to regain his comfort zone. Hopefully it's just a short-term issue that will resolve itself, but I do think you need to put up boundaries about what you will/won't accept even from a 15 month old! Anon
Our 15 month old son has a biting fixation. He does not do it in
an aggressive or angry
way. When we are playing or cuddling he will sometimes just take
a bite of my
shoulder or leg or back. It hurts! And I find myself stiffening up
when he comes to hug
me because I am afraid of him biting me. I have tried telling him
firmly not to bite. I
have tried pretending to cry. I have told him that it hurts. I
have tried offering him
something appropriate to bite. Nothing seems to work. He just
loves to use those
teeth! He still puts alot of things in his mouth and bites other
things besides me. I
thought he would grow out of it but he has not yet and I don't
want him to start biting
his friends. Does anyone have any suggestions?
Mother of Jaws
This is my first child, and I've gotten a wide range of responses on this. Frankly, I'm lost on this. My fifteen month old is biting whenever something is going on that she doesn't like. Whether it's being changed, or it's time to stop playing, or just something that brings her displeasure -she bites. To her credit, it is fairly infrequent (thank goodness) and it is usually is at the end of the day, or another especially cranky period. She is also teething and getting three teeth at once, but they are practically through. Sometimes, the biting is extremely painful. I've said, "No", "No biting" and "No biting, that hurts Mommy," many times. Lately, I've taken to setting her down in the center of a room, refusing to hold her, and just repeating the aforementioned statements. I know developmentally she can't really understand what she's doing and that time outs are out of the question, but I feel some gentle consequence is necessary. Does anyone have any ideas?
Hi - We have a 16 month old who is otherwise very well behaved, but seems to have a problem with biting his mother and me while we are holding him ... mostly chomping on our shoulder. He's got both upper and lower teeth, and a strong bite, and so it's extremely painful when he (often out of the blue) decides to do this. And, to make matters worse, when we pull him away and yell ''ouc!h or ''no!'' he thinks it's a game and laughs. He doesn't seem to be doing this as a malicious act, but rather out of boredom or to get our attention while holding him. It's not an ''all the time'' thing either, as more often than not; he is content to simply rest his head on our shoulder if we are holding him. I am interested if anyone else has successfully remedied such a biting problem. Thanks. Hoping to be Bitten and Bruised No More!
My daughter (16 months) has started biting and scratching lately and I'm a bit at a loss on how to help her control herself. She bit me 3 times last week, each time leaving a nice bruise. My first response has been to look her in the face and say "No biting! (scratching)." Dr. Brazelton says you should collect your child in your arms and say "I don't like that and no one else does either. Until you can control yourself, Mommy will help you..." or words to that effect. But a couple of questions arise: (1) how can I help her control herself at this age and (2) how can I protect myself from her biting or scratching without putting her down and making her feel even worse about her her behavior? I understand this is a phase, but I'd love to hear from you parents whose babies have been through this -- what worked for you?
Has anyone had any success taming the occaisional biter -- at home or in a daycare situation? I've perused the archives and haven't found any success stories.
Today when I picked up my daughter from her Mom's Morning Out (MMO) Program I found out that my daughter had bitten another child. This is the third bite at MMO in the past 2 1/2 months (the other two happened on the same day more than a month ago). Usually, they expel the little nippers after the third bite, but decided to allow my daughter to stay in the program. In the future they will call me when she bites and I will be required to come pick her up, a solution that I very much appreciate. I am not sure if they are being nice to me because my older (never a biter) child is at the preschool and they are afraid that I will try to find another situation for them both or if they realize that this is very irregular and isn't reflective of my child's regular behavior.
My daughter is 20-months-old. She does not bite at home. We had some issues with it a few months ago. If she bit me, I would set her down and walk away (advice that I found here on BPN). If she bit another child, I would physically remove her from the situation and make her sit with me for a few minutes until she was calm (she is upset when she bites, she isn't orally fixated). She hasn't bitten any child while around me in more than two-months -- just those bites at the MMO program that she attends two mornings a week. Any thoughts? Or as this is so irregular that it isn't worth focusing my time on ? -anon
My 18 month old daughter has been biting for about 6 months now, and it's gotten to the point where I'm running from her at times. I've read through all the suggestions on the advice message board, but none of them haved seem to work for us. When I offer her a substitute to bite, she casts it aside angrily and goes for flesh! It seems to be uncontrollable for her, and definitely seems to be frustration/anger about not getting what she wants right away. I have to hover near her whenever she's near other kids, and even then, I end up having to pry her mouth off others. This seems to be a pretty long ''phase.'' She doesn't just bite once either, she often comes at me (or her other victims) again and again. It's like living with a shark sometimes! Has anyone come up with a solution other than these: offering something she *can* bite safely, saying ''NO bite'' firmly and consistently, removing her from the situation, pretending to cry so she knows it hurts, or taking my attention away (and putting it on the victim if it's someone other than me)? Are there other resources for help with these things, such as a child behaviorist who might observe her/us and offer suggestions? Or is that jumping the gun? Please help. It's becoming difficult to be around my otherwise wonderful, very verbal and happy girl. Shark mom
When I put her is the corner, I calmly (calm is hard) explain what she did wrong (''You have a time out because you bit Isabelle. Don't bite. Biting hurts.''). When I retrieve her I repeat what she did wrong and tell her to be nice or apologize to her victim, which usually seems to work, at least until a new frustration arises. Good luck. Carrie
The tough thing is that parents respond so much more strongly to this behavior than any other-it seems ''animal,'' but according to an expert I talked to at a preschool fair, it's really no ''worse'' (assuming no injury) than any other behavior. This person had done a lot of research and said that ''some kids just feel things (as in feelings, not sensations) with their mouth.'' My daughter still really liked to put stuff in her mouth, suck on her fingers, etc. long after most kids, so I believe this. Good luck! anon
My son is a biter. I know there have been tons of messages about this. I've read all of them. I know it's normal behavior for an 18-month-old as well as hitting and tantrums. I've read all the articles about why this is and how for the most part you just have to wait until this stage ends (while talking to him, telling him ''no, we don't hit when we're angry'' and now that he's a little older timeouts). I still want to cry every time I read his daily reports from daycare though. Everyone else's says ''Great day! Played well. Using new words.'' For my son, it's usually a run down of how he bit or hit someone or didn't pay attention in circle time. If this behavior is so normal for his age group then why is my child the ''bad kid'' at the daycare? It's not that my child is an angel at home but he's also a happy baby, energetic, curious, and creative. He plays well independently. We don't have a TV and noone in the household is physically aggressive. He loves books and loves pulling out his favorites that he demands that we read (even turning to his favorite parts in the book). I'm ready to switch daycares over this. This is my first child. Am I being too sensitive? Do I need to give a good spanking or bite him back(like grandma suggests) to nip this bad behavior in the butt and stop being ''lenient''? Is something wrong with my child that I just can't see because he's my pride and joy? Is it because I work? I apologize to the poor victim and parent of my child's attacks. what do I do?! biter's mom
That said, your daycare should not be focusing only on this behavior in their notes to you. The fact that they are doing that is somewhat insensitive, but it seems like a signal that they are frustrated with the behavior and don't know how to deal with it. What I found helpful was to come up with a ''plan'' of response for the bad behavior. We even got some input from professionals on how to handle it with out particular child's temperment. Then I wrote out the plan and gave it to the teachers, and met with them to discuss the plan. It makes everyone feel less frustrated if they feel like they know exactly what to do to address the behavior.
Your plan should include: 1) immediate response to the behavior (for example: immediately pick him up and remove him from the situation and sit him on the step. 2) Language you use to identify the behavior: ''That is biting. You may not bite, it hurts.'' It helps if everyone dealing with him usese the same language. 3) Signals to look for that might show that the behavior is about to happen. We identified certain things our son did (getting out of control in a specific way) that usually preceded his hitting. So gave the teachers warning signs or th ings to look out for.
A plan like this will get everyone on the same page and hopefully make everyone feel more empowered in dealing with the behavior. It will also give your child some consistency. Once the teachers have this plan of action, they might feel less frustrated. You have to admit, it is a lot more work for them to monitor a kid who is hitting or biting.
You can also mention to them that you would like to hear about some positive things in addition to the negative. If after a week or so with these new guidelines for how to deal with it, they still are not giving you any positive feedback, then maybe it is time to change daycare. Good luck. I totally feel for you. This too shall pass. anon
It's very hard to parent a spirited kid. Everyone judges you, and there is very little practical advice available. I know; I live it too. Read ''Raising Your Spirited Child''. It will help. A little.
On a hopeful note, my son basically outgrew the hair-pulling at around two. We put him in a lovely small structured play-based preschool, and to our shock, he sits still and participates in circle! He was absolutely allergic to circle time before that. I keep telling myself that the very traits of my son's that drive me crazy now will make him a really fabulous adult. With us, the issues change, but he's always going to be intense. Smart kids are just like that. I just muddled through, cried a lot, gave a lot of time-outs, and finally things got better. Now he has lovely company manners, and I'm not afraid to take him to the playground anymore. I did nothing to make that happen, except try to maintain consistency; it just happened on its own.
I can't recommend a good preschool highly enough -- the structure really helps energetic kids. I think your kid isn't stimulated enough in the daycare, and that he's really too little to ''get'' impulse control. All you can do is time him out or take him home when he starts hurting the other kids. How does the daycare handle it? If it's the daycare that's labelling him the ''bad kid'', I would get him out of there. He doesn't need that kind of stigma. Maybe a nanny or better daycare that understands him better. Hang in there! Mom of tazmanian devil
I say this as a former preschool teacher who often complains about lax Berkeley moms who can't seem to enforce any reasonable standards of behavior for their kids, and as someone whose own child was terrorized in daycare by a 3 year old biter and hitter whose mom was completely oblivious to the problem. You don't sound oblivious or lax, but it does sound like your son's teachers have gotten into a rut in their thinking where your son is concerned. I would talk to them about whether there's anything more that you could be doing together to help him, and see if there's something you're not hearing that you need to hear. And then I would take a look at preschools that are more equipped to deal with the normal range of personalities you see at 18 months. nelly
We have on two occasions used family counseling to help us, as a family, understand what is going on with her and work together as a team (including her in all aspects of this) to find a solution to whatever the issue is that is making her use her spirit/energy in a destructive rather than positive manner. The greatest benefit we received from family therapy was better communication between all of us and I found I did not have to try to ''fix'' her or her problems but to JUST LISTEN. She needed an outlet where she could vent and be heard... once I learned to just sit and listen (and believe me this is still difficult for me!) many of her ''problems'' subsided.
The world needs kids like ours who think out of the box and push the envelope... it keeps life interesting. BTW she hasn't biten anyone in a really long, long time :)) Oh, the family of the boy she bit a couple of times in kindergarden still reminds us of it from time to time (usually just as something to talk about in a school social setting) but it is now considered a funny thing that happened in kindergarden with no serious harm done :)). Good luck and enjoy your boy for exactly who he is... Mom of a biter
From what I have learned/read, biters can be expressing feelings that things aren't quite right at home (as was the case for my son's friend) or that they are just simply frustrated and lack the vocabulary to express their emotions. Sounds like your wee one is in that category. I would not bite your child back...that is such the wrong thing to teach a child, in my opinion. You don't like the behavior, so why do it to your own child and send that mixed message?
Anyway, try talking with your child and before punishing, say ''I know you are frustrated that you can't have the toy (whatever applies) but let's see if we can find a way to share that works for everyone.'' Acknowledge his/her feelings and give them the vocab to express themselves. Then have your child get ice for the injured child and show him how biting hurts (even if it is a minor bite), reinforcing that he doesn't like it when he gets boo boo's either and that making people sad like that isn't nice.
Best of luck! Son's buddy got the boot
1. Please call Bananas. They are experts on biting issues and are truly interested in the subject. They are also caring listeners with practical solutions. 658-7353.
2. Trust your instincts. Your son is dealing with impulse control. He's not biting because he's a bad kid or likes to hurt people. So biting him back is not going to work. Different solutions work for each child. It's not because you work or because of your parenting style.
3. Consider having your child's daycare provider call Bananas too. They don't seem to be handling the situation well. The biting events should at the very least, be a seperate progress report:) Everyone involved is probably just really frustrated. Hopefully getting input from Bananas can add a fresh perspective for the teachers and the other parents.
4. Find a mantra for yourself to help you through this time. Mine was, if he's still biting when he goes to college, I'll worry. Biting is perfectly normal, but it is also perfectly socially unacceptable. My other mantra was 'no one ever gets sent to the emergency room from being bit'. I'd try to repeat that one every time I wished my son was a hitter or pusher instead of a biter.
5. To all parents of non-biters, believe me, we parents of biters feel terrible guilt over this. Nothing can make you more sad than thinking about your baby hurting others. And thinking about the other parents wanting to keep their kids away from yours. My suggestions aren't meant to offend anyone, just to add a little humor to a very tense time.
6. Everytime you feel like trying to punish him out of this, call your understanding friends. Nothing got me through this time more than my best friend who didn't stop hanging out with us even though her daughter got bit her fair share. If need support, you can always contact me! sfdeva
Every single time he tries to bite he is firmly told "no biting." Both at home and at daycare, we have used time outs, focused lots of concern and attention on the child who has bitten if it goes that far, encouraged him to bit pillows or other inanimate objects, and most recently tried to redirect his energy away from biting by making him jump when he tries to bite. (If he succeeds in biting there is always a consequence, such as a time out.)
He is highly verbal (speaking in sentences), and the opinion has been expressed that he because of this, perhaps he should be able to use his words rather than biting. While we're not so sure that he is mature enough to do that, we are extremely concerned and are interested in solutions that concerned and are interested in solutions that other parents have found. I should mention that biting or otherwise hurting people is the worst thing, in our minds as parents, that our child can do to someone else. We want very much to raise a child who is not aggressive or violent towards other people. Perhaps he is picking up on this concern of ours, but it seems more likely that he has poor impulse control and for whatever reason his aggression is expressed primarily through biting.
I saw one idea on the website where a preschooler was given positive reinforcement (stickers, toys) for not biting. I'm not sure my son is old enough to understand the concept of stickers for not biting leading to toys if enough days pass without biting. But we may give this a try.
I should mention that other than biting, our child is quite sweet, loving and generally very happy. Our day care provider mentioned that he shares extremely well for a child his age, for example. So we aren't dealing with a child who is experiencing a lot of general difficulties. If it weren't for this one (huge) problem, we wouldn't have any serious concerns at all. Any advice is GREATLY appreciated.
I watch a 20 month old who bites occasionaly as well as scratches when she is not happy. This behavior is exhibited towards other kids, myself and her parents. She know it is wrong behavior; I have given her time out and her parents have done the same. She is pretty active and is an only child. Will she grow out of this phase? Is it normal? Thanks. anon
AHH!!! So, our 2 year old is biting and hitting us. He has done the biting thing on and off since about 14 months. Time outs worked at first, but now he doesn't seem to care. He actually seems bite even when he knows it will make us mad.
The circumstances can be from us rolling around and playing to him not getting his way to me on the phone and not paying 100% attention. We have tried everything short of physical punishment (giving tons of attention to the person hurt, time outs, ignoring him, taking him away from the person he hurt). The one thing we have not tried is just totally and completely ignoring the bite...as if it didn't happen. Thankfully, he doesn't bite anyone else but us.
The hitting is not fun, but seems a bit more normal. Still not sure how to handle it as ''no hitting, that hurts mommy'' doesn't work. jenny
We tried just about everything - time outs, a firmly worded ''No!'' at the time of the biting and hitting, long ''rational'' discussions re why friends won't play with us if we bite them (hey, we were first time parents, new to the concept that long, rational discussions aren't necessarily the best way to communicate with a 2-year old). At the end, we were just overwrought by the whole thing. One friend even suggested that the next time she bit me, I bite her in return! (I didn't though, just could not bring myself to bite my defenseless child!).
In the end, we found success with the help of a book by Karen Kane, called ''No Biting!'' If you find it, it's actually pretty funny reading. Big, broadly drawn illustrations of young children. ''Don't bite your friends!'' one page will say, and then the opposite, facing page is a lift-a-flap page. ''What do we bite?'' (Then lift the flap.) ''We bite apples!'' I note that the book encompasses biting, spitting, pushing, hitting, and kicking the family dog, so it's an all occasion learning tool.
That, and, I hesitate to admit this, the last time Katie bit me (we bought the book right around this time, so not sure which was more effective), after previously checking with pediatrician to make sure no ill effects, I had her bite onto the edge of (though not actually eat any) of a bar of Ivory bath soap.
(We kept the bar of soap, with its angry little tooth indentations on one corner - she bit HARD - for a long time, just to remind ourselves that no problems with our kids are insurmountable.) Good luck! D
Secondly, we reinforced that it is NEVER ok to bite (or hit/kick) people. He got timeouts when we caught him even acting like he's going to bite, hit or kick so that it was very clear that the behaviors were not acceptable, even when he was in good space and just being playful. My husband and I made sure that we modeled appropriate behaviors (no nudging or tapping at each other.) He's now 3 and outgrew the biting thing after about 2-3 months, so there is light at the end of the tunnel as long as the behavior that you want is modeled and the negative behavior is consistently dealt with. I don't think that ignoring the behavior would be appropriate, because then you leave it up to the 2 yr old to create a mental rule or interpretation that biting might be ok.
Our 3 yr old is now testing me (more than his dad) with pushing and other passive aggressive behaviors and he gets a time out each time he does that...no warnings given because we want to give him the clear message that pushing people is NOT acceptable. When he gets frustrated or angry, I tell him to use his words with mommy and I wait for him to take the lead (so that his first impulse is not to push as a result of anger or frustration). I found that when I would ask ''is it this, or that, etc.'' it seems to rile him up, then he would push or do something physical, we would do a lengthy time out and it would be just miserable for the both of us. So, instead I let him know he needs to use his words and when he's ready, I was (in the kitchen, on the couch, where-ever) and was ready to listen. This seems to work so far, the first thing he asks for is for a hug, then I will ask if he's sad, or angry, or whatever so he knows there's a name for what he's feeling and go from there.
So the long and short of it is that consistency is key and it looks like even when we think we've turned the corner on modifying one negative behavior, another one will surely pop up and the naughty chair or naughty spot will have to be dusted off. Good luck. anon
I heard about this technique before my daughter started biting at about 1 year-old, and it worked perfectly when I put it to use.
Babies/toddlers aren't developmentally ready to understand what they did to make mommy/daddy bite, hit or yell at them or feed them soap, for that matter. They simply cannot and WILL NOT make the connection between punishment and their own behavior as a biter or a hitter. When I say cruelty, I don't mean you personally, but some BPN posters wrote that they they hit, yelled, and even fed a baby a bar of soap. I likely would have done the same type of thing had I not been lucky enough to hear the advice I pass on to you. Gook luck. Christina
I am currently undergoing my most challenging experience as a parent and preschool teacher. I have created a small home-based preschool with other children my daughter's age (23 months). I have over six years of experience in the early childhood education field, but am baffled about how to deal with my daughter's aggressive behaviour. I understand why it is happening and under what circumstances and I do EVERYTHING I can to elliminate anything that may spark a nibble from my daughter. However, I simply am not able to be with her every second. Sometimes she's bitten others when I've turned my back for a moment. The situation has really come to a head with one family ultimately quitting my program. Fortunately, the other parents are a bit more patient and understanding, as well as willing to communicate about any fears or concerns. However, I am feeling drained by the experience and I wish that my daughter would stop. I want to keep the other children safe and I feel like I'm not succeeding in the basic ground rules of childcare...keep the children safe. I have tried everything that I have read about and known of, including time-outs (which don't seem to work), removing from the situation, stopping the incident while it's about to happen, giving her something to chew on (although this clearly isn't a teething issue) etc. She is currently starting to use her words to tell the others that she ''needs space'' or ''Stop. I'm playing with this'' The incidents are happening less and we had even gone a month without any troubles. Then she bit another two times in one day. I guess I'm just looking for some more advice about how others may have handled the same behaviour. Are there any other caregivers who have experienced this? Please, I would love to hear anything that anyone has to say.
I feel that this child reacted in this way because he was not as verbal as my son and wasn't able to communicate ''stop'' or ''mine'' or even ''no'' at times. The boy was dealing with a major health complication and probably didn't feel good enough to socialize, but this was something I could not figure out since the boy hardly spoke words or indicated consistency in his moods. Personality clashes are also a result of persistent biting, hitting, etc. Some parents might disagree to this but I feel that it does happen as both children in my care had very passionate and sensitive personalities.
I probably did not offer you any concrete solutions, but I hope you will feel better in knowing that you are not the only one who has gone through this. If I were you I would give your daughter lots of attention letting her know that you are ''her mommy'' and make playdates outside of childcare hours to expose her to more ''positive'' situations. This might help her to see other possibilities of playing and socializing. I hope this helps and Good Luck.
I feel like such a bad mom. Where did this come from? What am I missing? My husband and I do not hit or bite eachother. Where did she learn this, and why is she sticking with it? Could it be that the mere fact that I am so horrified drives her to do it more, just to see me react? If so, how should I change my response, and how can I stay honest while doing so? How can I help her? I really don't want my little sweetiepie to suffer the stigma associated with being known as "the biter." She's such a good person, and now gradually everyone at daycare is starting to make comments like "she's been at it again" or "I heard your daughter has been having a biting problem." This scares me to death; the worst thing would be for her to receive a label and accept it as her identity. In fact, in writing that, I realize that her both her teachers and other parents have engaged me in conversation about this right in front of her, and hearing it may have encouraged the behavior.
I'm obsessing. Please help me with a bit of advice, or direct me to some resource about this topic! Thank you.
It may help to provide the child with a teether attached by a ribbon or on a necklace, that they can have with them at all times to help them deal with a very difficult issue concerning their mouths. At one preschool, the teachers encourage the parents to bring several fluid-filled teething rings, which they then keep in the refrigerator, so that the child is always furnished with a cool teething ring to comfort his/her mouth. Beverly
I have mostly only had to deal with biting during nursing, but I think the strategy I used could be adapted for your situation. I just closed the milk factory, and no more nursing for that session. I didn't even bother saying no, although I couldn't help myself yelping loudly in pain. My daughter learned very quickly that there was a very aversive consequence for biting, and she stopped after just a few times. he was only about 6 months old at the time, so I feel confident that your daughter is old enough by now to learn this responsibility.
It sounds to me like your daughter isn't getting your message, so I would suggest trying something more aversive to her (plus, I would advise against "flicking"--you don't want her to do that, so don't model that for her). If she usually bites you when you're holding her, how about just putting her down for a stretch when she bites (after she lets go--ouch!). You could start out by just putting her down but still playing with her, and see if that is enough of a consequence for her to learn not to bite. For example, this was enough for my daughter who bit during nursing--I would stop nursing her for that session, but still play with her instead of nursing. If that's not enough, you could try more or less ignoring her for a few minutes after putting her down. Of course, if she seems to do it in order to get you to put her down, then setting her down won't be a good aversive consequence--how about holding her turned facing out--so her teeth can't get near you. Also, you already suggested that your husband gets his message across with a loud booming No!!--so maybe following his lead would help. She will probably cry if you do these or whatever other aversive consequences you figure out--but keep in mind as you consider whether you're being too harsh on her that her biting is having a very negative effect on your relationship with her. So some discomfort on her (and therefore your) part is probably worth it. After all, you're not going to refuse to pick her up, or to interact with her, for a long time--just for short bursts until she learns not to bite.
You could also try redirecting her biting behavior--in addition to setting her down, hand her a chewing-ok object--a teether or whatever, saying "No biting Mommy! Bite this!" Then again, she's used to your style of saying no, yet she continues--so maybe your style of no is part of the reaction she's trying for--so don't give her the "reward" of your saying no, just silently give her the teether. You could also try redirecting by proposing a different action she could do to your shoulder--no biting; Kiss, or pat instead.
Meanwhile, you might take a look at your intuition about why she's biting you. Does she do it to get your attention--does it mainly happen when you're holding her but not really paying attention to her? If so, then, separately from the aversive consequence strategy, try hard at other times of the day to "get there first"--try to pay good attention to her while you're holding her. Does she do it because it provokes an energetically lively response from you? If so, maybe she would appreciate more "rough & tumble" play from you, before she bites. Does she do it in order to get you to set her down? Maybe you could try to tune in more to her pre-bite squirms or facial expressions (my daughter used to get a certain gleam in her eye--she thought it would be fun to bite, before she learned that it meant no more nursies for now) or whatever and put her down before she bites.
On a positive note, maybe she just plain likes to bite! So, you could try having a biting-friendly object always handy when you pick her up, and get it to her mouth and/or hand right away. Then when she bites that, praise the heck out of it: "Yay for biting the teether! That's right! Way to go!" That way maybe she can get all of her "bities" out on the right object, not on your skin. Along a similar line, you could try praising her every few minutes that she's not biting you, but to do so, try to think of a praising phrase that doesn't mention (and remind her of) biting--maybe thank you for kissing/patting me--I like it when you kiss me!--or--Good keeping your teeth closed! Hope you get some relief soon!
The preschool my daughter was in used the following solution to a problem with a young boy who was biting. Every day that the boy did not bite anyone he got a sticker on that day on the monthly calendar. Every 5 days he did this (a week's worth) he received a small toy as a reward. Initially there were some lapses but soon he was so interested in the stickers/rewards he stopped biting.
After 4 weeks of this "sticker" system, he "graduated" and the preschool threw a party in his honor (his mom brought a cake and ice cream) and all celebrated. He was so proud of his accomplishment, he never bit anyone again. Carolyn
Hi I am having a really hard time with my 2 1/2 yr old second son, his brother is 5 and the two of them really love eachother but, they constantly fight over toys and then younger one I'll call him B gets angry, frustrated and bites or barrel roles A over and they get into it-like every 15 min or less in the afternoon. It is also rolling over to B's preschool and play interactions, he bites or hits so often. We talk about how it hurts and it is not ok to hurt or give booboo's. It is at time unbearable and after 10 times of this I start to loose my cool and begin yelling and putting them both in timeouts. This is a particularly hard time because my husband works a late and I am making dinner. 5:30-6:30 ish. when I get them to the bath or eating things calm down. Maybe things will get better with time change and we can be outside more. I often just put on a little movie but then the older one wants to watch one that B doesn't and B gets pushy again or they are just not happy watching the same thing but B wants so bad to be with A that I can't seperate them in our house. I get them playing something then it just breaks down. A also wants space to do his own thing but B is always messing it up, Is this just a phase that B is going through? How do I deal with this? Do you know any people who come to the home to evaluate and give advice -like a therapist or child psychologist-Super Nanny? We are also dealing with some sensory special needs issues. I would call the show but it dosen't seem that bad and we are not willing to be on TV. Help! send me super nanny!
My 2 1/2 granddauther is very active, and once in a while she stars hitting and bitting other children. Time out is not working, do you have any suggestions?
IT IS IMPORTANT TO BE CONSISTENT! Your child needs to know that this behavior is unacceptable. It IS normal for many kids to go through this phase and is not reflection of your parenting (despite what some parents will try to make you believe). Pay close attention to the times that your child acts out. You may find that there are certain playmates or times of day when the incidents are more likely to occur. Try to avoid the children that trigger it (I had to put a friendship on hold until my child worked this out of her system). Take your child home from the playground a little earlier on days that she may be more tired even if you do hold to a rigid nap schedule.
Also, look at things going on with your child. There may be a lot of stress in your litle one's life that you are not recognizing. Are you pregnant? Are you potty training? My little one's behavior took a nose dive during potty training. Whenever she had an accident she would turn and bite a playmate. I finally shelved the potty training (she rarely had accidents, but the whole process was just too overwhelming for her at the time)
It took a year for my daughter to move out of this behavior.
It was very trying, frustrating, embarrassing, etc. People
with kids who never acted out will just think you are a bad
parent (ignore them, they will have there own issues to deal
with at some point and will appreciate that you are able to
treat them more kindly than they did when you were going
through your trials). Your work will pay off
With my girls, they bit for 2 reasons primarily, when they were
frustrated with another child (took their toy away) and didn't
have the language tools to express themselves, or when they
wanted attention from someone they liked. We just had to watch
them very carefully until they grew out of it. We tried giving
the more ferocious of the 2 a special chew toy that she had
clipped to her front for her to bite when she felt frustrated but
that didn't work that well all the time
My verbal, normally well-behaved 3 1/2 yr old girl started biting her 5 yr old sis every day constantly, (no skin breaking) about 5 wks ago. She bit her 14 month sis twice, and then stopped. She also started trashing our bathrooms multiple times a day -- unrolling tp/dumping soap (now I lock doors and escort unemotionally to bathroom because time outs/cleaning up mess didn't stop it).
The biting occurs when she's alone with sis or always when adult isn't looking -- often in passing, not just anger; she seeks her out and bites quite calmly and sometimes will even remind her sis that she just bit her, so clearly enjoys the reaction. I try to separate them as much as possible and tried all the parenting techniques -- unemotional time outs with the biting frequency so high she ends up alone most of day, removal of privileges/pos. reinf., good attention when behaving, chew toy, showering victim with attention, using words and what word ie ''No'' instead of biting, etc. (Biting doesn't happen at preschool where the girls share a classroom and she bites sis less during playdates at home.) Going to the ped's office next week and a psych eval next. Should I try not even a timeout...zero reaction? If it's a phase how long until they outgrow it? Anyone know a good family/dev psych? Anon
The next time he bit his brother, I calmly told him, ''my job is to keep you safe (which my boys have heard repeatedly before) and if you bite Brother, then I'm not keeping him safe. So, for the next day, you cannot be near your brother because I can't trust you to keep him safe.'' For the next full day, i had to keep the boys completely separated (not an easy task) and my youngest was so heartbroken to not play with his brother, he never bit again. Throughout the day when they got near each other or started to play, I separated the younger one and reminded him that he couldn't play with Brother because he doesn't keep him safe. At the end of the day, my youngest was promising to never bite again, which he hasn't to this day. Hope it helps you, Norma happy mom
My 3 1/2 year old son has been biting other children in preschool. We need to figure out how to deal with this behavior. We have talked and talked about it, and now have him out of the preschool (they could no longer handle it). He does not bite every day, and it does seem to happen as a response to anger (toys being taken from him) or being cornered. We don't have to have him in preschool for our jobs, but wanted him to have the socialization with other children. So, any advice on how to deal with this behavior? Any recommendations of a small family day care that would deal with this? Any recommendations of classes/groups that we could take him to so that he can socialize and we can be on hand to referee? And, finally, any experiences that other parents may have had with their ''biters'' and (please!) reassurances that this behavior will go away with time would be appreciated. Thanks!!
Bananas Referral Service has a good handout on biting which I found helpful when dealing with my daughter's brief period of biting at home and then again later when a child at day care did some serious biting involving broken skin. Bananas' Help Line number is 658-6046. From the handout, what I remember is that biting is typically situational, that is, it usually happens under particular circumstances. By observing and understanding the situation in which biting occurs and eliminating the circumstance or intervening appropriately, the biting can be stopped. It worked for us, and I hope you get relief too. Donna
My 18 mo has gotten bitten at daycare at least five times (I'm starting to lose track!) by the same child. He tried to bite her at least a couple more times *that I know about*. The biting is unprovoked--I saw him walk up to her and grab her to bite her on the back. The daycare is trying to do something about it, but I'm not impressed with the results. I read the advice about biting being ''normal'', but it makes me sick when she comes home with bite marks on her. It is hard enough to take her to daycare in the first place. I chose this one very carefully and trusted them until this point. Now I am considering moving her, despite the fact that I know it would be hard for her to move. I would really like the biter to leave. He should get a nanny until he can behave or go somewhere he can get special attention. I don't see why my child should have to suffer when she is not causing the problem. Since it does not appear that he will leave, I am looking for a daycare that does not tolerate children repeatedly biting their classmates. Thanks for your help. More than once-bitten mom
On another note, we just took my older son out of his preschool class because we felt that the teachers were way too complacent about how our son was being affected by the class bully. We felt that they should have required the child's parents to shadow him until he could control himself better. I feel for you!
If your child is in a high-quality daycare, you can trust that the caregivers are doing what they can to help the 'biter' learn to express himself in a better way and for your child to learn behavior and words that will stop the biter. Talk to the director and the caregivers and find out what's really going on and what they're doing. If they're not redirecting the children, helping them learn words to express their anger and giving them something else to bite, then perhaps you should look for a better daycare.
Under no circumstances should the 'biter' be asked to leave. He is not an 'attacker', not an evil little monster in diapers. He's a small child who is having a difficult time expressing his emotions. Evenutally he (and all the other children) will learn. When your child is older and having a hard time learning to read, should she be kicked out of kindergarten because she's holding back the other kids and slowing down their education?
The other thing to keep in mind is that kids get over it, really fast. They don't hold deep-seated grudges. My son was bitten many times in daycare and once his best friend pushed him and gave him a black eye. Guess what? At 8, he's still friends with all of them.
i'm sorry for your pain and agony. it feels horrible to have your child violently attacked. i feel for you. i've been there. Julia
Throwing away kids who bite (or hit, kick, spit, etc) is a knee-
jerk reaction to something that could very well be taken care of
on a caring level. Problems will persist, especially if a child
loses his/her school/daycare so suddenly. You may not care right
now about what happens to the kid who bites, but I assure you
that you'll want people to be a little more concerned when it's
YOUR child who does something inappropriate (which will happen
at some point).
Good mother of a kid who used to bite
I looked through the archives regarding biting and only found responses from parents whose child was the biter. Wondering if any parents of children who have gotten bitten could share their experience/advice. My son (2 years old) has been bitten repeatedly at his preschool. It has happened once a week for the last 5 weeks (all except one time by the same kid). At first I was rather mellow, I know this is a phase some children go through and I understand that toddlers (who happen to be very oral) can have a hard time understanding that biting is not acceptable. The preschool has worked hard to avoid the situations (fighting over a toy mainly) where the biting has occurred and they are trying to keep my son and the boy that is biting separate as much as possible. But...the biting keeps happening. And I'm not sure what to do. My son keeps getting hurt. Am I over reacting? Is getting bit once a week rather normal for toddlers (the program has 10 kids in it) or is it a lot? Are there things my husband and I could do (or the program) to help curb this behavior? It is becoming very difficult and frustrating to leave my child at a place (that is suppose to be a safe place for him) and just wait till this other child out grows his phase. anon
What we found was that the child who bit often would have a strong emotional reaction and not be able to access their ''words.'' To a child that young, bitting is a form of ''communicating.'' ''Hey, I'm trying to tell you I'm angry or upset!'' Obviously, this isn't a great way to communicate. So, instead, we'd work with the child and his ability to communicate his feelings. We never separated children, but would monitor the child and would step in if we could see the child getting upset.
When this would happen, teachers would step in and mediate for the children in the conflict. We'd start by saying to the child who bites, ''Oh, I see you're feeling upset? Can you tell _______ why you're upset?'' Then we'd ask the same of the other child. Often, the child who bites just wants to be heard.
With one child, we found that findng the right words was extremeley difficult when he was upset. So, we suggested that when he gets upset, he jump up and down and just yell. The yelling wasn't directed at anyone, but gave the child a way to express and release their frustration.
To the parents of the child who bites, we suggested playdates so the child can gain some bonds with class mates, reading books about emotions, gently coaching the child in appropriate ways to communicate, and praising the child when this behavior is modeled.
I know it's frustrating, but hang in there.
former preschool teacher
I took a lot of heat for this from the parents of the bitten children and from the school, however there was very little I could do. She never bit anyone at home ever (including her twin sister) nor did she bite anyone in the few playdates we had with other kids her age.
It's a really terrible situation to be in for everyone - the biter, the bitten, the school, the teachers and the parents on both sides. At our preschool the teachers simply had to monitor my little dracula very very carefully and watch her for signs of launching an attack. This was exhausting for them as they had a whole room full of 2 year olds to keep track of.
I did suggest telling the little boys to bite her back and was looked at in horror. Apparently not a PC thing to suggest in California.
Eventually my daughter stopped biting probably for a combination of reasons - she learned to express herself verbally, she learned that biting is not ok, etc. It took a painfully long time though and was hard on everyone.
I can't comment on the long term effects of this biting on the 2 boys on the receiving end of her biting but the 3 of them continued on in the same class for another 2 years without any further incidents.
I guess I'm just trying to say that no one wants their child to be a biter and no one wants their child to be bitten. It's something that some kids do unfortunately and it just takes time to resolve. I'm sure your preschool teachers are working hard to try to make sure it doesn't happen and I think getting angry with them probably just adds to their stress level and doesn't help the situation.
We went through a period when my son was in preschool where he was getting bitten about once a week. I was confident that the school was handling the situation in the best possible way, and my son did not seem particularly traumitized by it. In fact, a few of the kids that I knew were the 'biters' are still his best friends, although he's been out of preschool for a few years.
I have a three year old daughter. My husband's sister has a three-and-a-half year old son who we see fairly often. He is and always has been "a biter" and he bites my daughter just about every time they're together. He generally does it after a long day of playing well together. The bite has never broken skin, but is very hard,painful and leaves a welt and bruise on my daughter's arm, back, or even face! The parents (my in-laws) seem to waiting for their son to outgrow this behavior. They never impose any consequence when he bites. After three years of this I'm out of patience. I fear for my daughter's physical and emotional well-being, but am at a loss for how to handle the situation. They have a four month old baby who I bet will be at risk of being bitten once he starts getting in his brother's way. What would you do? Thanks!
Do not let this behavior continue without taking matters into your own hands (especially if the parents are not reprimanding the biter!). Your daughters safety is not the only thing at stake here. This little boy is learning VERY EARLY ON that he can use unacceptable ways to get what he wants or even worse to overpower girls/others without any consequence. My child had a phase (~6 mos) of biting that was not tolerable to me or my family. We used time-outs, removal of privileges and even mild hot sauce threats (which finally did the trick since my child does not like spicy or carbonated foods) to get this behavior to stop. This, however, was just a phase and not a "lifetime" of known biting. If the parents condone the biting there seems to be a mixed message being sent to the biter. To stop the child, they MUST do something about it. If they won't, then others need to jump in even if it is to say "Johnny it is not acceptable for you to bite Jane. People do not bite each other."..... and perhaps put your in-laws on the spot....whatever it is you decide to do, remember that you don't want your child to be a victim anymore and the only way to help her is to be her advocate.
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