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Our little biter

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
20 month old likes to bite and laughs at all reprimands. What advice do you have? He is biting his older brother (3 and 20 months) and his older brother, a true testimony to GD, has not yet once hit/bit/hurt him back.

I half wish he would, quite honestly.

We are all for the very patient and consistent statement of terms in our house, but this is the first time I do not feel that it is enough (or is working!)
post #2 of 17
How long has he been biting and do you gently tell him "no biting hurts"

If is a new thing I would keep up telling him in a quiet but firm voice we don't bite that hurts. DD went through a short lived stage of this, (I don't think it was short because of how I handled it, I think she just got bored with it) and I would get down on her level and tell her that.

Can you pinpoint why he bites, it he frusterated but doesn't have the words to express it? I had daycare twins who I was told were biters and I realized they only bit when they were frustrated. I would help them use there words and we didn't have a single biting incident after that.
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
He started biting hard at about 6 months old. It is not a new problem-- it's just that now he does it and thinks it is funny.

I tell him biting hurts, and ask him to make the sign for "hurt" and that it makes his brother sad, ask him to make the sign for "sad" and that it is a "no no," and again ask for that sign. He readily complies.

He doesn't bite out of frustration or anger-- he is a very physically intense kid and all of his motions are strong or big. He often ends up with folds of my neck skin in his hands when he "hugs" me and it is very painful, he pulls my hair when he is really excited and happy and can't contain myself and it is a no-nonsense pull.

He primarily bites his brother when they are having physical play (which is quite often) but what instigated this thread was that he walked up to him in the middle of the dining room when they hadn't been wrestling and bit him on the shoulder, and THEN hit him on the head with a flashlight.

(I admit that I DID swat him on the bottom that time. I was livid, and there's nothing more conflicting than feeling like you have to protect one of your babies from... your other baby. Argh.)


The biter does not like the older brother's "game" of "dinosaur," which consists of running around the house and roaring loudly. Little guys says "TOO WOUD OBI!" (Too loud, Ovi!) whenever O roars. I advised the older one tonight to try to roar right before or during or after a bite... but so far that hasn't worked (he sobs that he just can't remember to do it.)
post #4 of 17
I'm just subbing to this b/c I think we might be dealing with it in a few months. My babe is only 12 months now but she has been biting (me, mostly, but sometimes her sisters) for, oh, about the last 7-8 months! I thought it was teething at first--she did teeth really early, and I don't know, maybe it is, but I think she just likes the feeling. She bites me all the time when I'm nursing, and yes, I take her off for a moment, but that doesn't help the next time!

I was a biter as a toddler. They even called me "Killer Katie" in the church nursery! I grew out of it, eventually. Even now though, when I'm stressed, I really do feel it in my mouth and sometimes I really would like to just bite on something . . . fleshy. Is that so weird? Maybe I'm deranged.

But also, maybe some kids really just have that as their natural reaction, and it's really hard/impossible to control at that age. What a hard thing to deal with for the parents though! Good luck!
post #5 of 17
Thread Starter 
Killer Kate! That's funny.

It is definitely a part of who he is-- that is why I didn't title this thread "biting" but "our little biter." He is a biter. When he is having a meltdown due to being overdone (tired, stimulated, scared, etc) he responds really well to just being squeezed really firmly.

It is really tricky trying to figure out what to do. Does anyone have any ideas??
post #6 of 17
I'm right there with you.

My 21 month old has taken to biting... mostly out of frustration. Her older sister has a mark on her back from where the toddler bit her!

It DOES seem to be going away a little bit (oh please don't make me eat my words on this! I may have just jinxed myself). The way we've been dealing with it is: if she bites I immediately distance her from whatever she was about to bite. I tell her "No, biting hurts! Ouch!" and then I give her NO more attention for it. I look away, show nothing on my face, but I do hold her back from reaching the item she was trying to bite.

Sometimes I can catch her as she opens her mouth with that look in her eye, before she bites.

If she has a clear frustration, I try to help her vocalize it - this gets easier the more they can talk, but I'll give her the words "Did you want that toy your sister is holding?" or "Are you frustrated? Show Mommy what you need." so that she can point to whatever it is.

I think the biting often comes along with teething. When DD's teeth are emerging her biting tendency gets worse. I SO don't want to end up with a habitual biter!!!
post #7 of 17
I will be watching this thread. I came on here tonight to post about ds. He's only 17 months but the biting, pinching, hitting is just getting more & more intense. It certainly is worse when he's tired & he's just now starting to truly do it due to frustration but mostly he just out of nowhere bites or pinches me. It's been going on for months & months & I can't seem to get any improvement - like I said it is most definitely getting worse.

Thank goodness it's primarily been towards me so far but I fear the day it starts towards other kids.
post #8 of 17
My son is almost 23 mos and we have been struggling with this since he was about 15 mos.

What has been hard for us is he mostly does it at daycare so our chances to work on it at home are few and far between.

At first it seemed he would bite out of boredom/teething. Then, he seemed to begin to enjoy the attention he received when he bit. A beautiful example of even negative attention is better than no attention.

Lately we have seen some improvement after a really bad week. In one week he bit four kids. I can not stress how awful it was for us. We felt like the worst parents. Our only saving grace is that he doesn't bite particularly hard-doesn't break the skin or even leave a mark. And thankfully our daycare is committed to working through this and doesn't threaten us with expulsion or anything.

The teachers at school have been watching like a hawk at his bad times (right before lunch and when waiting by the door to go inside or go outside). This redirection is awesome because we can literally see him thinking about it before he does it.

We have been reminding him at home every morning about gentle touches and using our words when we get frustrated. We do not talk about kisses because at this point we want him to know that he can't use his mouth at all on his friends (twice he has pretended to be kissing and then bites).

When I drop him off I remind him again about using our words, gentle touches, and no biting our friends.

Knock on wood it seems to be working. We have not had a bite in a week, and there have been fewer attempts than in the past as well.
post #9 of 17
Can I join in here? My little guy is 18 mos and he bites. Mostly when he is frustrated or overpowered (like being put in carseat) so I get that. We do the calm firm "No biting. Biting hurts Mama. Gentle" but it never stops it nor has it made it any less frequent. He has started gently rubbing us just where he bit us so I'm starting to think it may be sinking in. shrug. I heard that sometimes kids laugh when they don't know what else to do with their emotions. I think that is the explanation for kids laughing after they hurt someone.
post #10 of 17
Geez Louise. We are in a similar boat. Our 14 month old boy also bites. He bites us - partially out of teething (we try to give him other things to gnaw on but somehow he prefers to bite us and our clothes) but also, like another poster above said, because he just intense at everything. It often seems like he is full of energy and just going almost crazy to find all sorts of ways to get it out.

We are currently in a more difficult period of teething, runny nose, etc. - he just isn't feeling that well overall and he just gets frustrated so easily. Poor guy. We firmly tell him no, that hurts. Let's be gentle. But like with the very very few things we forbid (hitting the cats, trying to put fingers in light sockets, playing with dangerous things, etc.) our consistent and firm "No's" do not seem to sink in in the least. Like he is clearly amused, often, at our no's. We try to practice gentle discipline and only say no when it seems serious. We hope/assume he will out grow this and know that it isn't the end of the world (thank goodness hasn't happened at daycare yet), but I am looking more generally for ideas about helping toddlers learn to follow important (if very few) boundaries. I know, I know, this is like one of the ultimate parenting questions and it is hard for everyone. But any ideas would help. (In addition to those - explaining, trying to voice frustration, not giving extra attention.....)

post #11 of 17
My son started biting at 10 months. He still bites occasionally now but at 3 its very rare. I think it's a phase that some kids go through.
Alot of his biting was if he was tired, teething, and hungry. I worked very hard to control those factors to help control the bitting. When he first started biting we went through the phase were he though it was funny. What we did was if you were playing with him and he bite. We told him "no biting" "biting hurts" something simple. If we were playing a fun game and he though it was funny to bite we would end the fun activity. If we were at a play date and he bite another child we would simply leave. I wouldn't say this helped curb the biting but I wanted to provide a consistent response. It also guaranteed he still had friends despite the fact that he bite most of them. Moms felt like I did something about it so they didn't mind if my child played with their child. I will say his best friend learned a very effective way to keep my son from biting him by pushing his head away. I was very impressed with his blocking ability.
post #12 of 17
I remember this... Both of my kids went through short biting periods -- it was so frustrating!! They were close in age, so they almost overlapped. I got the book "Teeth Are Not for Biting" (board book), and we read 84,397 times a day. Really, whenever we were sitting down to nurse/read/whatever, I whipped that book out. It felt like a constant campaign, and I remember having eyes like a hawk and making preemptive strikes during that time ---- if one kid even looked like he/she was thinking about biting, then I was right there in the middle of them to separate/help out with the frustration. It was an intense time, and I remember not getting a lot done around the house. It faded, though, but I remember just having to be really - present - for the kids to find other ways to work through the frustration.

Hang in there.
post #13 of 17
Biting can have many reasons behind it - frustration is a big one as folks have mentioned - and so is attention -
OP - try and get to the reason behind it if you can - couple things you described - his intense hugging etc. - make me think there is a sensory component to this - that and is strong reaction to the loud noises - and you can *try* giving him some things that are OK to bite - lots of stuff on line for not much money - just google chewies or chewelry-

I once worked at a day care where we had this new child who came from another setting where she bit OFTEN - and everytime she did they called her mom to come take her home - SMART KID - she bit at our school as well but shadowing and immediate redirection - (and NOT reinforcing it with a call to mom) and she stopped pretty quickly.

If it is attention, then your best bet is to IGNORE him, but shower the victim with lots of attention - and I agree with suggestion for lots of reading books on not biting.

my own dd did go through a biting stage at around 2.5 - once out of the blue she just came up and bit my leg hard through my jeans - I said "ouch - that hurts and i don't want to play with you if you are going to bite me!" and immediately went into the house (she was in a fenced in yard) she came in after me and wanted to read books but I told her I didn't want to - she could go play by herself (which she NEVER could do) - she went off for about five minutes and came back with folded pieces of paper and said "Mom, I read this book on biting!" I said "oh? what does it say?" and she proudly said " I will never bite again!" and true to her word, she never did! LOL

In her case she was just testing/ trying things out so I think it was easier to curb - but it is really essential you try and get at the function of the biting...
post #14 of 17
Our ds was a biter - oh heavens it so much more socially unacceptable than say hitting or pushing - he left huge marks, we told him that it hurt etc, we used sign language from the beginning, eventually he grew out of it, but I had to watch him like hawk and distract or remove him from whatever it was if I saw the the signs - which I knew what to look out for - and nip it in the bud - I didn't always manage but certainly did try!! We gave him toys that he was allowed to bite etc but it just took time patience and also being able to explain to other parents that our child wasn't a monster - the name of a biter tends to follow and stick, and then sympathise with the mothers of other biters saying that in time it will pass and they won't be like this forever - hugs it's not an easy one!
post #15 of 17
My ds is only 9 months old, but I am a nanny to twin girls who are now 6. The description of your son reminds me strongly of one of these girls. Around 24 months her biting got to the point where we couldn't just ignore it or brush it off, she was biting her sister and thought it was hilarious that it caused her sister to cry. This is what we did: whenever she would bite anyone we would hug the bitten sister and cuddle her until she stopped crying (completely ignoring the biter). Then we would say without anger or emotion (try sounding really bored) "Teeth are for chewing." and carry the biter into the kitchen, strap her into her booster seat and give her carrots or something healthy and crunchy to chew on. At first she would eat the snack, then she would just take a few bites, and toward the very end she would just sit there staring at the carrots. We probably had to do this 10 times, but within a couple weeks she got the picture that A: biting wasn't going to get her any attention (positive or negative) and B: that TEETH ARE FOR CHEWING!

I really think that when you say "No biting!" kids just hear "Biting!" Like saying "Feet on the floor" instead of "don't jump on the couch. HTH!
post #16 of 17
My daughter was a biter. But, with her it was frustration with other kids. She didn't think it was funny. She just liked how it felt. When she was mad at the kids, she bit them. When she saw a bare shiny shoulder, she bit it.

SHe was vicious.

Out of desparation, I set up a full size playpen in the kitchen (We wrere always in the kitchen) and when she bit, I stuck her in there. She had toys and lovies in there. She stopped biting within three days, and was just asking to go in there for a while. As she got older, when the other kids started to bother her, she just went in her room.

She just needed space. She's still like that at age 17. She likes her time alone.
post #17 of 17
One of the stories that T. Berry Brazelton loved to tell was that when he was a pediatrician... he had a bulletin board for moms to advertise on for playdates ... through this kind of play with other biters and hair-pullers the kids soon got the idea that this behavior hurts and after just a couple of playdates.. the habit would disappear without the mom having to fret too much.
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