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Advice about Biting

Berkeley Parents Network > Advice > Worries Big & Little > Advice about Biting


My Child is Biting! My Child is Being Bitten

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one-year-old biting

May 2004

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


1 year olds never ever ever deserve any form of time outs THIS SHALL PASS. Dont take it so seriously, theres so much learning going on physically. Repeat simply ''Not for biting'' and move on. Offer a teething ring or something else to satisfy this oral need (THAT PASSES I PROMISE!) Post biting survivor
Nov 2000

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


My son went through the same stage. It was never out of anger, but rather an expression of big big love- he just couldn't express it any other way, it seemed. We always firmly told him, "No biting. Biting hurts." Then we would stop playing with him for a few minutes. He often laughed as well, but soon enough he got the idea and grew out of it. He's two now and occasionally tries to sneak a bite in with a big hug, but when we say, "No biting!" he smiles and stops mid-munch. Other moms have told me that this is a common enough problem. Melissa
I've been dealing with a biting problem in my toddler since he was 15 months old. He's now 27 months and the problem has just begun to abate in the last couple of months. I tried everything from holding him down, to time outs, to even slapping his wrist. This last was out of complete frustration with the efficacy of all the other methods I'd tried, and since it was clear that in order to even faze him I'd have to hit a lot harder than I had, I decided never even to try that method again. I never even considered biting him back, though many advised it. My son almost never bit out of anger or frustration or hostility. He did what your child did--seemed to really enjoy it--I began to think he *needed* somehow to bite. He'd do it when he was really excited, overstimulated or tired, or, believe it or not, feeling really loving. It was like he wanted to take a bite out of you, he loved you so much. Obviously, you don't know yet if you have a chronic problem here or simply a quickly dispensed with passing phase. On the off chance that the problem is chronic, here's what I found to be most helpful:

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!


13-month-old biting me when he's angry

Nov 2003

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?


For 13 month old: First of all, I must emphasize that you are correct, biting must be nipped in the bud IMMEDIATELY. Many people do not realize how incredibly dangerous a human bite is. I know a woman who almost DIED as a result of an infection she got from a bite from a baby, around the same age.

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!


15 month old bites and scratches

April 2007

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


How annoying this must be for you (and painful, too!), and I don't think ignoring it is the answer. How about this: whenever he hurts you, difinitively remove yourself from him -- distance yourself completely by moving to another seat -- and tell him ''when you hurt me, I will not be close to you and for the next (XX number of minutes -- remember that 5 minutes is an eternity to a 15 month old, so maybe go for only a few minutes at first).'' Then ignore him for that number of minutes, no matter what he does (short of injuring himself).

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


15-month-old has a biting fixation

June 2006

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


When my son bites me (similar to yours, kind of in a playful way, but it hurts) I yell *really loud* ''OWWWWWW''. Not in a funny way. In a ''YOU REALLY HURT ME AND I DON'T LIKE IT''. I then step away from him and say again, in a less loud way ''Oww, that really hurt mommy, I really don't like it''. And then I walk away. I have only had to do that twice, and he has gotten the picture. Both times he cried pretty hard (he was I think so surprised by the force of my communication -- I never raise my voice to him). But I felt like it was an appropriate response -- it simply isn't OK to bite someone. Now he says ''no biting because it hurts mommy''.
Send a strong loud message and they will hear
Your child may be a little young, but you may want to get this book (''Teeth are not for Biting'' by Elizabeth Verdick), which I hear won a couple awards. It can reinforce the lesson about biting that you are starting to teach your child now. When our son (now 22 months old) tries to bite, we just repeat in a firm voice ''no biting'' and we don't let him get his teeth on us. If he does, we scream ''Owie'' and ''Noooooo''. Good luck!
Andi
My first suggestion is to go to your local PEtCo or some pet store and buy a couple of dog chewie toys. Don't laugh now. Attach a piece of ribbon or twine to it, and hook it onto your son's clothes. Start training him to bite the chewie when he feels the need, rather than a person. It sounds like he really needs that stimulation, and trying to stop it will not be as effective as redirecting it. You can buy more expensive chewies from Sensory Integration Disorder supply catalogues like Integrations, but the doggie ones are cheaper and more durable (my son has actually bitten the rubber off human chewies!). My son had the same problem at about the same age, and it continued far longer than all the books said it would. He, too, would bite when happy or excited more than he would when frustrated. Later he was diagnosed with Sensory Integration Disorder (among other things). Does your child do other things that seem mysterious, like slam against walls or floors, love to be squeezed and crushed, put too much food in his mouth? If he does, you might want to have him evalutated by an occupational therapist for SID. If he doesn't, he's probably just a bit outisde the box with his oral fixation and it will pass. Meantime, redirect rather than restrict, I say. Good luck Susan
I have just read a response to this posting which recommended that you use a dog chew toy for your child. Please, please do not do this. I work in a business which makes toys for dogs and humans and the legal standards for toxicity are not the same (horrible, I know, but true). We recently heard that someone was using our rubber dog bones as a teething toy for her children and were horrified. If you choose to use this poster's tactic, please make sure that the toy is non-toxic or all natural. Better yet, find a toy made for a child, or at least one made for a human being.
anon

15-month-old biting whenever she doesn't like something

August 2000

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?


In response to the mother of the little girl who bites - Our 18 month old son did the same thing. It was so difficult I cannot begin to express the feeling my husband and I had to deal with. He bit when he was really happy and also when he was frustrated. We read everything we could get our hands on and spent hours on line in the middle of the night trying to figure out what to do. The best advice we got was from a book called Becoming the "Parent You Want to Be", by Davis and Keyser. They help you identify all the reasons children may be biting and explain that it is essential you work on letting your child know that biting is not ok but that you don't want to make your child feel like a bad person. Of course at their age it is difficult to make them understand. We just kept at it and he has only bitten twice in the past month.. much improved.

16-month-old is biting us on the shoulder

August 2004

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!


I wrote in with the exact same problem about 2 months ago! My son, same age, was biting me and laughing when I told him no. I would put him down and say no very sternly, no biting, biting hurts mama, etc. Then I would try to distract him with a book, toy, etc. I read in a book (THe happiest toddler on the block, a great book, by the way) that if you tell a kid not to do something and then keep looking at them, they may take it as an invitation (dare) to do it again, so I tried to change the subject, if you will, right away. If he tried it a few more times, I would give him a brief time out of sorts- basically turn my back to him and not give him attention for 30 seconds or so (only at home, I obviously couldn't do that in a public place). I don't know if that strategy worked or if he just grew out of it, or if it was a teething related thing, but he has stopped doing it- for now at least. anon
Our son went through a similar stage. We found it was really helpful to be proactive, and stop him before he bit us (we got good at seeing it coming). We would say ''no biting'' and give him something else to bite. Or just distract him. If he did bite us, we didn't make a scene, just added ''it hurts!'' heythere_heather
My son used to bite at about that age. I recall them as months from hell. I think he was oral, the biting would become worse when I tried to wean him (breastfeeding can be painful and scary w/a biter!). After trying all sorts of things I started giving him beef teriyaki jerky to chew; it stopped his biting. Good luck in whatever method you try. pat

16-month-old biting and scratching us

August 1999

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?


I also had a problem with my 14 month old biting. He would only bite me- thank heavens- but when he did bite it would leave a bruise and sometimes break through the skin. Sometimes he bit when he was frustrated, other times without thinking. I was at the end of my rope- I had also found that saying no biting didn't work. What I ended up doing was saying no-biting and then sitting him down on the floor and walking away for a few moments. I also made sure that for a few days I didn't put him in a position where he could easily bite me, with his head lying on my shoulder for example, or let him bring my hand to his mouth. Within a few days he stopped biting me, although I'm not really sure that these last tactics were why. He might have also moved through the biting phase. Good luck!
This email is directed to the mother with a 14 month child who bites her. I too have this problem with my 18 month old daughter. I don't have any great advice since what we are doing to curb the behavior hasn't been particularly effective, but I thought I'd let you know you aren't alone. Since she was about a year old, she has bitten me at least 2-3 times a day on the shoulders and arms, often leaving bruises but rarely breaking the skin. When she was younger, her pediatrician said they were "love bites" and that she would outgrow them. The doctor recommended I use a firm "no!" and a flick of the finger on her cheek. Most of the time she doesn't seem to be fazed at all by the flicks on the cheek and the "no!". She just hunches up her shoulders and sometimes even giggles. I have recently stopped flicking her cheek, and instead flick her ear, which seems to be more noxious to her and I don't have to flick her as hard to get her to let go (which, by the way, breaks my heart every time I do it.) Flicking her seems to be the only way to get her to let go eventually - she bites so hard I am always afraid she is going to take a chunk out of my shoulder. Early on, the bites seemed to express intense positive emotions (I love you *this* much!), but now she bites me in anger and frustration as well. These days she often bites me and then, when I get her to stop, she points to the spot and says "No-no, No-no". Now she has started pinching as well. I'm tired of being bitten and pinched. I am the only one she bites or pinches. On a few occasions, my husband was present when she bit me and boomed out "NO!". She immediately let go and cried. (She has a stellar relationship with her Papa). Perhaps I should be more forceful in *my* "No!"'s. I also avoid bare shoulders. Any suggestions are welcome.
I had one of my twins always biting his brother! It happened when they were about 17 months old. Sometimes it was from anger/frustration, and sometimes it just seemed he bit his brother to find out what would happen. We told our homeopath, and she perscribed a remedy. It really worked - overnight in fact. We never had any more problems. Good luck.

18-month old bites every now and again at daycare

October 2006

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 daughter bit at daycare a couple of times, and bit her baby brother a couple of times, and we used the same advice that you mentioned-- removing her from the situation, talking to her calmly about not hurting other people. At daycare they engaged her to ''help'' the person she had just bitten -- it seems my daughter was shocked each time that when she bit it actually hurt the other person, so once she recognized that, her biting abated. I think in general it is a phase that passes, though as you mentioned, schools don't want the risk associated and have low tolerance for multiple occurrences. Good luck anon
I wrote a response to a similar question that is now archived on this page. There are also a couple other good postings there on the topic, one by a pre-school teacher and one by another parent of a biten child. The parents who are demanding the biting child be removed from daycare aren't providing an effective solution. Biting is just another one of these childhood behaviours that some kids do and some don't. It's a situation that just needs to be monitored closely until the biter grows out of it.
- Mommy of 2 biters out of 3

18-month-old has been biting for six months

April 2006

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


I also have a biter (mine's 22 months now). By the time she was 18 months, we were using time outs for biting and other aggressive behavior. It really only took one or two times having to repeatedly return her to her corner before she got it, and now she will stay there until I come get her. I use the 1 min per year of age guideline, so 1.5 min at 18 months.

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


call meg zweiback at 836-1450. right now. stop reading and call. you will not regret it. anon
I feel for you! I don't really have any great advice, other than to empathize and and tell you that it DOES end! My daughter was a biter (and pushed kids) from-I don't even remember-probably 1.5 to 2.5 or a little longer. Now she's almost 4 and sweet and gentle-no aggression of any kind. Maybe it was a little different since she always bit others (usually younger kids) and never her parents. She was also very verbal early and seemed to be frustrated when younger kids couldn't/didn't communicate/respond to her. Part frustration, part attention- getting, and nothing in particular seemed to stop it. If I could do it over again (and so thankful to be past that stage, so no thank you! (: ), I would have taken her home immediately any time she did this, rather than just removing her from the other child's space, time out, or trying to talk to her. Although she could certainly say with words ''I want to go home! Right now!'' for some reason she didn't, when in fact I believe this is what she was trying to tell me. She seemed so social that I probably spent way more time out of the house with her than I should have- not giving her down/alone time that I realize she needed. I don't know if this applies in your case. Hunger and tiredness were also usually factors.

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


Oh, I feel for you! Our daughter is almost three and we still have occasional incidents. We tried everything and talked to everybody and it didn't help much. It sounds like you are doing the right things. Always reinforce that biting is bad and biting hurts people. Never waiver from a stern attitude and never laugh (sometimes hard when you are being chased by a two foot shark in your living room). Offer something else to bite, tell your child to give a hug instead. We found a book ''Ouch, biting hurts!'' we read it to our daughter every night before bed and at other times. We're not sure if that is what helped turn the tide but it did seem to make an impression as our daughter now ''reads'' the book to her baby dolls almost word for word and when she does get very angry and needs to bite she looks for something (non-human) to bite. Good luck! Mel

18-month old biter is the Bad Kid at daycare

November 2005

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


Change daycare programs. I'm not sure if the problem is with the program or with the match, but it sure sounds like they are not doing a good job figuring out what your son needs to help him have an easier time and intervening to prevent situations from escalating. A very lovely and experienced preschool teacher once explained to me that it's the kid's job to have out of control feelings and it's the care provider's job to intervene and redirect. a mom
The wonderful teachers at my child's preschool had a wonderful way of addressing ''biters'' which was not punitive, and really addressed the underlying issue, which was impulse control. When the child got angry or upset, they impulsively felt the physical need to bite. They got the child a tough teething ring and put it on a cord around the kid's neck. They explained, supportively, to the kid and to the other kids, that when X got upset/frustrated/afraid, he wanted to bite, and the best thing to do was to bite the ''biting necklace'' quickly when he had that impulse, and NOT to bite another child, because that would hurt. And then it gradually evolved into being able to express his feelings with words, etc and the necklace was eventually abandoned. It worked beautifully and in a very nonpunishing way. (ie., DON'T bite him back!!!!!!!!) Anon
I could have written your post when my son was 18 months. It was a nightmare. I dreaded the notes! But it is really true that mostly you just have to wait it out and monitor them like hawks. We found the more consistency we had with immediate, firm time outs (in the crib) quelled the behavior a bit, but it wasn't till about 2 years 9 months that he really grew out of it (he was a hitter, not a biter. I've heard biters grow out of it earlier)

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


Well, it's not because you work! You pretty much just described my four-year-old, except that his method of torture was hair-pulling, not biting, and I haven't worked a day since he was born.

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


If your daycare provider has nothing to report but your child's misbehaviors, I would think about changing daycare providers. 18 months is pretty young to be pegged as the Bad Kid and it's extremely young to be expected to pay attention at circle time.

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


I feel so sad for you and your son. You absolutely must change daycares. ''Didn't pay attention in circle time''??? He's only 18 months old, for godsake. An 18 month old has far too much energy, and is way too busy to sit around in a circle! Aside from that, it sounds like the day care isn't handling your son's 'issues' very well. In addition to reporting on his behavior, have they discussed with you how they're helping him learn correct behavior? Have they had a dialogue with you about what you think of the situation and how you can work together? Aside from the run down of his problems every day, do they ever tell you what a unique, wonderful child you have? A good, developmental daycare will do all of those things. And, I imagine that if your son were in a better situation, his behavior would improve. Good luck.
First of all I sympathize with you AND I have been exactly where you are. There are no bad children, just children, who come in every flavor. My daughter- back when she was in daycare- was the child who always seemed to be in trouble for one thing or another. And yes she was a biter too! The good thing was that one of the teachers saw her as a bright and spirited child and was able to identify when she was beginning to escalate or get upset and could head it off at the pass -- sometimes. We tend to have a bumpy ride each time she has a big event or transition in her life; starting kindergarden, beginning middle school, etc. My daughter is still spirited and does very well academically and I find her a total joy (most of the time) to be with and talk with... but this spirit also manifests in such a way that life is sometimes more difficult for her than for others who just go along with the flow and do not bring as much attention to themselves. Keep in mind that she is now almost in High School.

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


Okay. I'm probably not going to be too popular here. I was a biter. My older sister was my victim. My mother, who believed in corporal punishment (I don't), tried everything to get me to stop - short of biting me back. One day, I bit my sister and I drew blood. That was it for my mother. She took my arm in her hands and bit. I never bit my sister after that. Furthermore, my mother-in-law, who is more adamently opposed to corporal punishment then me, shocked me one day when she said the only way to stop a biter was to bite back (this was after a little boy bit my son at school). If my husband had told me that my mother-in-law had said that, I wouldn't have believed him for a second. Heather
Hi- My son was not the biter in his class, but a cute little buddy of his definitely was. They were in the toddler class at a well- known corporate-type daycare facility. Their policy is that after three biting episodes, the biter gets the boot and is expelled. Talk about a lot for a toddler/parent to deal with!

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


The ideas of carrying a ''biting'' toy might work, but please don't suggest that a three-year-old wear anything around his/her neck. Unless it has a ''quick release'' type closure, it seeems that would be a strangulation hazard for any active kid. Perhaps it could be attached to one of those pacifier ''leashes''. R.K.
It made me so sad to read your post. First, I completely understand your emotions surrounding this. My son, who is now 3, has been a biter since about 15 months. We have tried almost everything over time and nothing has quite stopped the biting. It is getting better and it will get better for you as your son gets older, is able to control his impulses better, and begins to verbalize his feelings. Here are some suggestions I hope you find helpful.

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


18-month-old biting children at daycare

I am looking for advice about how to stop my son from biting. He's 18 months old and frequently tries to bite the other children at daycare in particular. Although it is worse if he is teething or otherwise not feeling well, it has been a very common occurance for months. Thanks to the vigilance of his day care providers, he has "landed" less than a half dozen bites on the other children over the months, but that is a half dozen too many! He also tries to bite adults at times. He seems to bit out of anger, for example when he is not getting his way or when arguing over a toy.

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.


Although I cannot, alas, offer a solution, I want to offer some sympathy to parents of kids who bite, since I have such a kid myself. My son bites when overtired, frustrated or (occasionally) very excited and happy, and this behavior has caused (not surprisingly) bad feelings at daycare from the parents of the bitees. Several of my friends also have toddlers who bite, and we all find this behavior upsetting and unacceptable. We also, however, find it very difficult to control completely. It would really help if the parents of children who get bitten tried to show some understanding (a sort of "there but for the grace of god" attitude), because, jeez, I promise that it is not that the parents of biters don't care that their children bite, or don't try to teach their kids not to bite, nor is it the case that these are nasty vicious kids. Rather, it appears to be a phase that some kids go through, and I hope that my efforts, and those of our daycare provider, will help make it a short phase in my son's case. Ah well -- I don't know any junior high schoolers who bite.
Our daughter started biting and scratching at her daycare at about 15 months, and didn't stop until she went to another daycare program at 32 months. It was not fun, and other parents were not happy with us and our daughter, as you can imagine. I agree with the pediatrician that it seems to have a lot to do with temperament, and I understand it is characteristic of 15 to 20% of children. So I hope you realize that it is common and not your fault, although I know it doesn't feel that way. Our daughter, too, is (and was then) charming and fun, and kids liked to play with her, despite her bad habit. She was also empathetic, and felt bad about hurting other children, but that didn't stop her. Mostly I want to tell the parents of children who bite that giving them a cold teether attached around the neck, and then reminding them to use it, seemed to work as well or better than all the admonishments, at least when the child is younger. Also identifying any consistent circumstances and avoiding these as much as possible. My impression is that it usually happened when our daughter was tired - at the end of the day or before nap, and also when she was crowded, like at the sink when everyone was washing hands at once. The hardest part about the whole situation is that it almost never happened at home, and so we could not really deal with it ourselves, except to talk about it and remind her that it was unacceptable. In retrospect, I wish we had tried another daycare situation earlier. I think in part I was afraid someone else would not take her if we told them she bit kids. However, the new daycare told me it was unlikely they would have a problem, and they didn't. The place she is in now is a much smaller center in a house with a lot of different spaces, has a mix of ages interacting - not all the same age in one big room as in the other center, and the is stable and have calm and matter-of-fact personalities. In addition, the children stay from when they come at about 2 to 2 and 1/2 until kindergarten, and a new group only comes in the fall. I think all of that has made a big difference. I believe the situation is simply less stressful and tiring. One of the teachers said she is very sensitive, and I think that was also part of it - kids learned how to bug her and make her mad. Her current daycare/preschool does not allow teasing, and works constantly on supporting kids in learning how to settle their differences. Hope this is helpful.
Oh, this one comes up periodically, doesn't it! As the mom of a 29-month-old who has gone through intermittent biting spells and is in one right now, my biggest advice is: be patient, your child *will* eventually learn and stop it! As the parents and caregivers, I echo those who say be consistent, and be creative. I agree with the other advisors who have suggested the following: try to see it coming and redirect the child; make it clear that it's not okay to bite people, books, etc., but at the same time give the child something that *is* okay to bite (e.g. a plastic or stuffed toy); check for root causes (my daughter is getting her last set of molars -- a complete surprise to me! (Talk about cranky!)); and ask the child what it is s/he wants when the biting occurs (one kid I knew bit when he wanted someone to get out of his way, and had to learn to go around them or ask them to move!). Best of luck to you!
My kid bit and hit for a little while (which seemed like forever). We were advised to (1) immediately and wholeheartedly comfort the victim rather than focussing attention (albeit negative) on the biter. (2) talk to daycare about it *at a time when our child was not present* it so that there are no adults inadvertly reinforcing the behavior. This REALLY helped, almost immediately.

20-month-old occasionally bites other kids & parents

June 2009

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


She will grow out of this...keep your consistency with the time outs and keep explanations short... -anon
I almost never used time-outs when my child was a toddler, but I used the put the child in the crib version of timeout when my daughter was 2.5 and biting me (for about two minutes and then a discussion). After a couple of repetitions, she stopped biting. non-violent

2 Year Old Biting and Hitting Mom and Dad

Oct 2007

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


You have my complete sympathies! We had a similar problem with hitting and biting with our first daughter, though her biting was on us, as well as a couple of her classmates at preschool.

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


I too can relate to your issue. Our son was a biter for a short time when he was 2. He bit another boy at daycare and we couldn't figure out why he did that. Since we never modeled the behavior by playfully nibbling or doing nibble kisses, we were perplexed. Then we realized that he was mimicking a scene from the movie Madagascar. Weird how kids pick up these subtle acts of agression. So the first thing we did was eliminate that movie from his option for video time.

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 know a mom whose kid stopped biting after she bit back. But I recommend the next time your child bites you, scream at the top of your lungs -- scream so loud that your child is terrified and starts to cry. I'll bet that after two or three times, you won't have a little biter anymore. s
Our daughter used to bite me a lot, until one day when she bit me, I grabbed her hand and bit her back(not very hard). She got the most amazing look on her face and never bit me again. A dad
When your toddler does this, put the child down and/or stop playing immediately and completely ignore the child for a minute or two (watch the kid, but kill eye contact and pretend to ignore them - walk out of the room if you can). Do it EVERY SINGLE TIME it happens. Within a few days, the behavior WILL stop if you are consistent. This works for biting and hitting.

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


2-year-old is biting children in my daycare

May 2005

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 can really understand your frustration. I was watching a child along with my son in a home-based childcare situation and the boy repeatedly bit my son and pulled his hair (at least twice a day). Even though the situation is a bit different, I feel the challenge is the same whether the biter is yours or not. It broke my heart to see my son so hurt but it really saddened and frustrated me to see this child continue the behavior even after I had done everything like you. My communication with the parent made matters worse because she was very defensive and didn't believe there was a problem, nor did she try to help make the situation better like putting her son in social situations outside of childcare. This issue really drained me overtime and I had to quit my job as a result.

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 bet the problem is that she wants your attention and does not want to share you with her classmates. You might have to put her in another school to solve this. --a mom

2-year-old biting

OK, I am starting to despair. My previously sweet little two-year-old daughter is doing something I don't understand and I have no idea how to help her stop: She bites, and she hits. She bites other children as a frustrated reaction to percieved unfairness (someone took her toy, pushed her, etc), and she bites pretty hard. She hits with less gusto, but it still scares the kids she hits. She seems to do it when she's socially uncomfortable. So, for example, she doesn't feel completely comfortable around most strange adults, and she will sometimes just walk up to an adult she has never met and whap her. Or, if she isn't sure how to act around a child, especially a younger child, she will do the same thing. For both the biting and the hitting, we have told her in no uncertain terms that this is not an ok thing to do. Our approach the first couple of times was to take it very seriously, remove her physically from her victim, and have a big talk about what had just happened. We talked about how it hurts when you get hit, and how she could instead try to talk to them ("use your words" has become such a buzz-phrase, but it is so true), even yell at them, or move away from them. She seemd to get it, and would repeat, "I not hit" with great solemnity. But then it happened again. After a time, it became clear that although she understood that it was wrong, she was still going to do it. Then we thought she must just be doing it to get our attention--those serious talks often ended with a big hug--so we switched tactics. We continued to swiftly remove her from the victim, but after that focussed our attention almost entirely on the victim, making sure he was ok and comforting him instead of paying attention to her. Well, that seemed to work for about 48 hours. Now she's back at it again.

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.


My toddler has gone in and out of biting phases (from around 20-22 months, now again at 27 months). She does it mostly if a bare arm is available (or recently, toes - yuck!), but also out of anger if I am limiting or instructing her against her preference. A visitor to our house used the tactic of "crying" (as opposed to me saying "Ow!" in anger, which doesn't work as a deterrent) and my toddler was immediately remorseful and offered a hug and a kiss. I have been doing this "crying" lately and even though it hasn't prevented the biting completely, it seems to help. Perhaps over time it sends the message that biting hurts, and maybe the kid will remember this before she does it. (I have also sent comments in past Advice messages about this; a friend had her toddler use a "biting" toy when she wanted to bite, to good effect e.g., "It's NOT okay to bite me, it IS okay to bite this!"). Good luck!
Children sometimes go from mild tendencies to bite, to very marked tendencies to bite, when they are teething or otherwise fixated on mouth issues.

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


Ouch!! poor you! I am kind of appalled that your pediatrician brushed this off as love bites! Biting hurts! It's not OK to bite mommy!

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!


I too have a 19-month old toddler who bites. Earlier it was just to see what happens, but now it is clearly an expression of frustration. I sometimes put his own arm or hand in his mouth just after or (if I notice it is coming in time) before a bite, and say "biting hurts" "biting is bad." Then I ask him to say "no biting." When he actually says it, he seems to process what I mean and stops. (and keeps repeating "no biting" in the sweetest voice imaginable!) You can also try (per the suggestion of my pediatrician) a real "time-out" - VERY quickly after the bite (within 7 seconds), scoop up baby and say "no biting" "you have to be in time-out alone for biting", etc, and put him in a corner or crib or playpen nearby. They key here is SPEED. They forget after a few seconds what they're being punished for. My baby cries, and I repeat several times why he is in timeout - then take him out and go through the "say no biting" routine again. Hope this helps.
My son bit us on the shoulders 14-18 mos. They were love bites but they hurt! We got him to stop by saying "No bites, (firmly) kisses" and kissing him. We let him know bites hurt but that the affection behind them was ok. When he did kiss instead we'd give lots of praise "I like kisses so much, that's nice". If it seemed like he was about to bite I'd try to redirect his attention. Also handing him something else to put in his mouth- a teething toy or stuffed animal and saying "if you need to bite you can bite this". If they do manage to clamp on pushing his/her head down into your shoulder will make them let go. The flicking thing seems too painful to me and seems to be sending the message "don't hurt me or I'll hurt you back". (also it doesnt sound like it's working). We still use some of these redirection techniques at 3 when he's starting to play too rough with us. In fact I got the iced teether out the other day when he started to try chomping my arm! Good luck.

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


To the parents in need of "cures for biting". I don't know if I have a cure, because my now 4 year old has resorted back to the occasional use of teeth with her younger sister (1.5 yrs). Because the 4yr old is extremely eloquent and uses language very well for her age, we have SERIOUS discussions with her why it is NOT OKAY to bite people. We always tell her that she has words to express anger and frustration and is not an animal that only communicates anger with teeth (our pets are the examples). With the older child we ABSOLUTELY put our foot down and give time-outs as well as take away favorite treats and activities (ie no ice cream cone for dessert, a much anticipated treat, as well as no story at bedtime, the favorite activity). This seems to work well in getting the message across the "we mean business" because of the follow-thru required. The KEY is to follow through with a punishment for the misbehavior. For the little one's under 2 with the limited language, the same seemed to work well. The best piece of advice I think I can offer would be to not only say NO! but to tell the child you hurt Mommy and leave the room for a moment so that they know you are serious, that it is not a game when he/she bites, and that unacceptable behavior means the child doesn't get your attention ("I don't like what you are doing to me and am going to do something else in the meantime" attitude). Whatever you try, just remember to be consistent and to follow through with the action on your end. Good luck!

2 1/2 yr old boy biting and not listening

March 2007

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!


I don't have experience with biting, but you might try this book (which won an award): 'Teeth Are Not for Biting' by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen. http://tinyurl.com/2u8l8j It could be just one part of your efforts to stop biting. Good luck!
I would really address the sensory issues...have you read ''The Out of Sync Child''? It is really good and will help you understand some things. Also are you seeing a good Occupational Therapist regularly? This will really help too. I can't address the other issues but think that addressing the sensory problems will help. anon
Sounds like you are going through what I did with my 2.5 year old and five year old. They are boys and struggle with who is in charge. The little one bites because that is the way he expresses his frustration and the bigger one is used the being the one in charge since he was on the planet first. I had to do several things 1). EVERY TIME the little one bit, I immediately put him in his room according to his age (age 2, 2 minutes, age 5, 5 minutes) for their infraction. I didn't punish both of them if one was the perpetrator - that isn't fair to the one being good. Right after the incident happened I would NOT get mad or yell - that will only elevate their anxiety and cause them to cry - I would gently pick them up the little one or say ''Let's go to your room and put the kitchen timer on''. Pretty soon the little one knew I meant business and was only acting on his behavior HE caused. That way he knows in his mind he is RESPONSIBLE for his actions. I always try and be fair in giving them the time they need by trying to get household chores done when they nap or get up earlier and even put on a video so in the later afternoon when us Stay at Home moms are at our weakest mental moments, I spend time doing something fun for all of us (ie. having little one work on coloring, magnetic boards, anything the little one likes which doesn't require my full attention, while I work with homework with my older five year old son). It's a win-win because you cleared time for the boys and they are both learning while your not STRESSING about breaking up the boxing match. That is sooo stressful and boys have a lot of energy. If I have enough energy I play monster and run around the house chasing them getting their energies out so when they are good and tired, I pop a video in, which they have to vote on, and I get time to make dinner. I hope this helps, because it has taken some fine-tuning in being a stay at home mom for five years with two boys. I do know that it gets easier, but you really need to be consistent in putting the little in his room when he bites someone. That won't be tolerated anywhere, but you know that. Good Luck! Mother of 3 and 5 year old boys!
My daughter was a biter-for what seemed like forever-maybe a year, when she was around 2. I totally agree with the posts about it being a normal-although unacceptable-way that some children communicate their needs for a time. Fortunately she only did it once at daycare, and the teachers did a great job of handling it. It was much more difficult for me to figure out a strategy that worked, but she did grow out of it. I disagree with taking the child out of daycare/preschool, as if this behavior is worse than the million other socially unacceptable things young kids do, and need to be guided away from. I read somewhere that adults respond to biting in a much more negative- and needlessly hysterical, sometimes-way, because we associate the behavior with animals. Sometimes I felt like my daughter was the only one that did this-but now with distance, I notice things that are shocking in the moment-a child hitting another in the face with a shovel at the park yesterday, for example-and realize how common ''aggression'' among many young children is. Your child is not being ''attacked;'' please try and put the behavior in perspective and realize that someday, yes, your child will be the one doing the ''not so good'' thing. preschooler's mom

2 1/2 yr. old is agressive and bites

June 2006

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?


Ah, the fun 'agressive twos' phase. I tried timeouts, but found them to be pretty useless. The only thing that ever worked with my older child was to immediately remove her from the situation. Prior to a playdate or trip to the playground, I listed behavior that was unacceptable (hitting, pushing, biting, kicking, etc). I told her that if she did anything on the list then we would leave immediately. If she did anything on the enumerated list, then that is what we would do -- leave immediately.

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
-been there


Both of my twins were biters from the age of 2-3 years. It's a phase they go though, although not all kids do. Basically they have to learn to impulse control. Time outs or punishments don't work that well at this age because they just don't understand. You just need to watch your child very vigilantly and when you see her start to move in to bite someone you need to intervene immediately and re-direct her. At the same time you need to repeat, repeat, repeat ''no biting, biting hurts people''.

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
Been there


Get the book ''Teeth are not for Biting'' by Elizabeth Verdick, which won a couple awards. Here's the description from Amazon.com: ''TEETH ARE NOT FOR BITING gives reasons why children might want to bite. Little mouths feel sore when new teeth come in; sometimes kids bite when theyUre hungry, tired, cranky, frustrated, angry, bored, distressed, or seeking attention. Author Elizabeth Verdick suggests positive things children can do instead of biting. Like chewing a chewy toy. Drinking a cold drink. Getting a hug. Telling a grown-up. Asking for help. And smilingIbecause while teeth are not for biting, they definitely are for smiling. Ideal for reading aloud, accessible and durable, this book also includes helpful tips for parents and caregivers.'' Andi

3 1/2 year old biting 5 year old sister non-stop

June 2010

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


Sounds like your 3.5yo is seeking attention more from your 5yo than you. She's not asking you to react, she's asking her sister to react by reminding her she was bitten. You might try working with your 3.5yo on how to better get her sister's attention. Your 3.5yo tried getting a reaction from your 14mo but obviously could not provoke the baby so she continued with her older sibling who she could get a reaction out of. You could have the older ignore her but there is something going on with your middle child. Maybe a time in might help out. When it occurs instead of giving the middle a time out sit the two girls together with you in a circle have an object, a ball or what have you, and begin by letting them know who ever has the object speaks everyone else listens. Then go through what you observed as happening in their situation. No blame or emotion just what you saw take place or heard etc. Then place the ball down for one of them to talk and explain what was going on. This may give you a better clue as to what is going through your middle child's head when she is biting. Good luck! lex
Hi, My 3 year old starting biting my 5 year old this past December. the first time he ever bit was me and I was so surprised and it hurt so much that I really screamed. that reaction was big to him. He bit his brother once and then once on the shoe. A friend of mine gave me advice that had worked for her and really worked for us, too.

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


3 1/2 year old son biting other children in preschool

Nov 2003

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!!


My daughter was a biter when she was around 3 years old. She was in a small family daycare which eventually asked her to leave because they were unable to deal with it. She had been there since she was a baby and was extremely attached to the main caregiver. She was jealous of her attentions to the other kids & would bite out of anger & frustration. I moved her to a larger preschool where she didn't know anyone & had no particular attachments & she was fine, she never bit again. So I'd say try somewhere else, and he may be fine. anonymous this time

General advice

2001

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


RE: toddler biting
First and foremost, yes, your son is completely normal. I used to post a lot to the advice line about my son (now 3) who, around 15 months (there must be something about that age!) started pulling hair, and graduated from that to biting, regularly, and without warning or provocation. He seemed so wild and out of control, and NOTHING I read in a book or got advice about from teachers and friends and doctors worked--not time outs or holding him down or stern talk, etc. While it's clear to me now that these are phases they outgrow, I will say that the advice I got that made the most sense to me came a bit late--he was already phasing out of his most violent stage when someone suggested that in my son's case, the attempt to get him to stop the behaviour was pointless--what I needed to do was redirect it. So toward the end, I got him a biting toy, and said, If you need to bite, you can bite this--it's not okay to bite people. This really seemed to work, and I wish I had used it during the hair pulling phase--I think with kids like this you have to work with the behaviour rather than try to prevent it. Now, at three, my son still occasionally has the urge to bite when he's very upset or having a tantrum (he remains intense, and very physical in his responses, though with so much more self-control and awareness of acceptable vs unacceptable behaviour). Most of the time he stops himself before actually biting, sometimes will lightly bite himself to prevent himself from biting others, or is capable of saying, "I want to bite something," and then I get him something he can chow on. He's not exactly easy-going, but I never thought he would develop this much self-awareness! So I advise considering a punching toy, a biting toy, a hair pulling toy, and distingushing for your son what it's okay to hit, bite and pull and what it's not okay to, rather than trying to get him to stop altogether. Good luck!

My toddler keeps getting bitten at daycare!

March 2007

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


I really feel for you and your daughter. You should speak directly to the director or whoever is in charge of the preschool. Make it clear that this behavior has been tolerated for too long. I think it is reasonable to have given the biting child a chance to improve his behavior. As such, the teachers should have been watching that child like a hawk and moved in quickly any time he even approached another child so that they were within arms length to prevent any more biting. If you like the school and don't want to leave then make it very clear that this other child has been given a chance and needs to go. Most preschools have somewhere in their written policies that disruptive behavior that impacts the school and other children is grounds for dismissal from the program and it sounds like this should fall under that category, especially since it has not been resolved. If other children have been victimized you may want to get other parents involved to provide a united front. Although it sounds extreme, you coulde always mention the word LIABILITY. Lastly, if you are unhappy with how they have handled the biting episode and have lost faith that they are looking out for the welfare of all the children in the program rather than just the instigator, then perhaps you may want to leave anyway. Good Luck
Oh my gosh! I would be so mad if I were you! Grrrr, in fact I think I'd handle this VERY BADLY. So I am not going to give advice but will rather let cooler heads prevail. But there was an article about this by Neal Pollack, in the online magazine Babble, and his kid was the biter, and THAT kid got kicked out of daycare. If I were you, I'd yank your kid out of there toot sweet and tell other parents to do the same till the li'l nipper gets sent home.
My son was also bitten several times at his daycare. It was always the same child who bit everyone else. I almost pulled him out of that school because of it. I know the daycare was doing what they could, but itUs impossible to expect them to be on top of the biter 100% of the time. IUm glad I didnUt pull him out because a) biting really is just a phase at that age and had he gone some where else the probability is that thereUd be a biter there too, and b) once the kids got older and could use words to communicate, the biting stopped. My son however, would still come home every now and then and say this kid bit him, even though I knew it wasnUt true. Ask the teachers if he is only biting your daughter or is he biting everyone else too. If itUs only your daughter, than itUs not unreasonable to ask them to make sure they are separated and to keep a more vigilant eye on when they are around each other. What about setting up a play date outside of school so you and the other kids parents can work with the kids together to try to get along better. You should read pervious posts in the archives from parents of kids that bite to gain some insight on the problem. anon
There was a biter/attacker child in my younger son's co-op class and the teacher made sure that if not the child's mom, then an adult always needed to be stationed near him to intervene before he attacked. He very quickly learned to use other means instead of physical aggression. I was pretty scared my son would be the victim and I was very pleased with the teacher's solution. Of course, this was a co-op setting where there are many more adults present than in a daycare.

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!


Children are going to get bitten at daycare. It's a fact. They're also going get colds and flus from the other kids, fight over toys, get pushed, shoved, knocked down, and hear inappropriate words from the kids with older siblings. You can take your child out of daycare and protect her from harm every waking moment. Or, you can leave her in daycare and let her learn how to navigate tricky social situations, stand up for herself and build up a great immune system.

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.


Hi- My child was not a bitter but a victim -- just twice at 2 different preschools. But the policy at both schools was the same: if your child bites another child three times (this is after parental involvement and conversations) then they are removed from the preschool program. That's it. Three strikes. I think that is pretty fair, personally. bite-free
I've read about biters and feel fortunate that my kids are not biters. my daughter has been bitten at school once so far (she's almost 2) but so far not again. I think if I was in your shoes I would ask what you could possibly do with them or the other child's parents to help this kid get through this stage. if they are helpful, if there is anything possible and within reason try to work with them. If they can't figure this out find another possible situation for your kid with openings, then give them an ultimatum your child or the biter and set a date, put it in writing.
I think that's what I would do. anon
here are some of my questions: what is the daycare doing? are they shadowing the biter? are they recognizing the biter's triggers? are they providing distractions? is your child the only victim or are there others? what is their communication with the parents of the biter? is there an ongoing discussion between the day care and parents? have the parents and the day care providers create a plan of consistent reinforcement for both home and school? and discuss it on a daily basis? what is the plan to seek professional help (pediatrician, behavioralist, etc...) on the part of the family? how do the parents of this child treat you? are they apologetic and reassuring? do they take responsibility? are they concerned about your child's well- being? or are they blaming? shrug it off and not take it seriously? if there is no progress being made - then one of the two kids needs to leave. the law makes it pretty easy for the day care to boot the biter. but your child depends on you for love and safety - do you feel the day care can provide that while you are at work?

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


I didn't see your original post, but I have to respond to some of the responses that were posted. I think it's really sad that parents are still labeling children based on undesirable behaviors. Calling a child a ''biter'' or a ''biter/attacker'' (?!) and insisting that these kids be kicked out of school does absolutely nothing to help the child who bites. My child was one of the kids who bit. She bit another kid who goes to her school, and that kid's parents flipped out. I heard all about how ''aggresive'' my daughter is and about how I ''obviously have no consequences'' in my home. They demanded that we (and the teachers) guarantee their child's safety. Luckily, my daughter's teachers know about child development and the issues that come up. They had a meeting with both families and explained that biting is a typical, although unacceptable, coping behavior for children. They watched the two children closely for awhile, and my husband and I made sure that we reinforced more appropriate ways for her to voice frustration. Things are totally fine now, and the kids are very good friends. In fact, all of the parents involved get along well now.

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


Some people are being too harsh on the mom whose child keeps getting bitten. She never said anything about the other child's parents. She said she wishes he would leave, and wouldn't you wish the same thing? Would you allow your child to be used as a punching bag until some other child learned to control himself? A toddler getting bitten is not learning ''how to navigate tricky social situations'', she is learning that she is not safe at daycare. And it is not her mom's responsibility to see that the other child is taken care of; it is her responsibility to look out for her own child. I speak as the mom of a child who was bitten several times by her cousin, who she loved and still loves very much. I did not blame my niece, who I also love, or my sisters' parenting, which was in many ways stricter than my own, but I absolutely expected my sister to do everything in her power to prevent my daughter from being injured. I know I am fortunate that my children never bit anyone and I never had to deal with that particular parenting challenge, but that doesn't negate my perspective on biting. Biting is not like pushing or hitting. The teeth are a dangerous weapon, albeit one that can't be taken away. We don't let children hit each other with sticks or stab each other with knives, and we shouldn't just shrug off biting as no big deal either. Parents can expect that their children will get colds, fight, etc. But it is certainly not ''a fact'' that kids will get bitten at daycare and there is nothing to be done until the biting child grows out of it. That mom is well within reason to be fed up with her daughter getting bitten so often. -my child is apparently too ''yummy'' for her own good

Son getting bitten at preschool every week

Sept 2005

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


No, you are not overreacting. It's one thing if it happens occasionally, but this is a regular occurrence and is not getting better. The other child is hurting your child, and the preschool is unable to prevent it. There are preschools that take responsibility for a situation like this - they either monitor the biter continuously or they ask the biter to leave. If your preschool doesn't want to do this then I think you should find another preschool - the stress of changing preschools is bound to be less than the stress of enduring more months of biting. Ginger
Hi, I'm a former preschool teacher. In a school year, we'd usually have one child who would bite. Yes, it is a stage and it is frustrating for the parents of the child who bites as well as the child who gets bitten.

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


My daughter has been bitten ONCE at preschool, and I thought that was shocking. I don't think I could tolerate once a week. If the school and talking with the other parent doesn't solve the problem, I'd look for a new preschool. A kid shouldn't have to deal with that.
IMMEDIATELY withdraw your son from that preschool. That your child has to endure regular biting from some other child is not only NOT normal, but is totally unacceptable and downright unsafe. The school should not allow this - they should have told the parents the child would have to leave the school if the biting didn't stop. Your child needs you to be his ultimate protector and advocate - don't rely on the school to do this when they clearly won't. Protective mommy
I don't know what you should do exactly, but I can say with pretty good confidence after experience with four different pre- schools (a total of five years of preschool between my two kids) that getting bitten once a week for five weeks is not the usual thing--it is way way way too much, in my opinion. For example, neither of my kids has ever been bitten at school. I think I could try very hard to be understanding about my child getting bitten once, but twice would be too much for me. Best of luck. meg
Hi - I read the earlier postings on this topic and wanted to respond as well. Of my 3 children, 2 were biters. One of my girls was a serious repeat biter. She bit the same 2 boys probably 2-3 times a week for about 5-8 weeks and then occasionally after that. She was 2 years old and the 2 boys she bit were her favorites but she bit them generally in situations where they were fighting over a toy or where she wanted them to pay attention to her (not all biting is out of frustration - sometimes it's to get attention).

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.


I was so bothered by most of the responses regarding the boy getting bitten at preschool that I just had to respond. While not behavior that you want to encourage, biting is normal for this age. It is a form of nonverbal communication. What the school and parents need to do is not have the 'biter' kicked out as so many people recommended(so he can go to another school and bite? so he can be locked up at home?), but work together to solve the problem. Obviously the biter needs to learn to express himself verbally and at a good preschool the teachers will help him learn to do this. They also will help the 'victim' learn to moderate his behavior. Is he continually taking toys from the other child or something else that is setting off the other child?

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.


3-year-old cousin biting my child

Jan 1999

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!


I have not gotten to the point where we are dealing with biting issues yet, but I would definitely not tolerate biting from another child - especially on the face! Biting can be pretty dangerous and as the child gets older, can get harder. It's a tough situation, but I would speak very frankly with your sister in law. I would probably also keep a close eye on them playing or if it was a real problem, I would hesitate to go over there unless I had assurances about the parents handling the problem effectively.

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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