What do you do when your 4-year old severely BITES a baby on her FACE for no reason?! - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 11:22 AM
 
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I'm going to be on the other side here, and say that I don't think it was THAT horrific. I guess I'd like to know more details. How big was the toddler? How mobile? How much was she getting in your dd's space?

Kids don't judge ages of other kids as well as we do. And they come in lots of different sizes. When my ds2 was about 15 months old he pushed dd's 5 yo friend off of one of those toddler slides, and she was appalled. She couldn't understand he was a baby, because he weighed as much as she did.

I DO think "freaking out" would have been a good solution, so that she would have realized that was totally out of line. But punishing and yelling beyond that probably wouldn't have helped.
I agree with this. My dd has always found younger kids annoying and she has no patience with them. It has taken a lot of talking and telling funny stories about little kids to convince dd that they really don't think about the world like big kids do. I don't think that one bite at this age signifies anything horrible. My dd is seven and mostly very gentle and thoughtful, but she bit someone once when she was almost four, she said she didn't know why at the time, she also recently pinched someone at church a few weeks ago out of the blue and that has also not happened again. Kids sometimes do horrible and very embarassing things for odd reasons and that doesn't mean anything is wrong, it doesn't mean they need serious punishments, and it doesn't mean they need counseling. I do think you should keep a close eye on her with a third child coming because kids sometimes do odd things when their mom's are expecting.
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#32 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 12:15 PM
 
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Sounds like too much talk and not enough action for a four year old. Also, you taking her and talking to her and explaining and whatnot is basically rewarding the behavior. Before she bit the baby your attention was diverted to your guest and the general goings on in the house. Then, your dd bit the baby and was rewarded with 15 minutes or whatever of one on one time with mom.

Like a past poster mentioned, Barbara Coloroso's "if you bite, you sit" approach is good. It's very gentle, but it cuts through the BS of sitting and talking with a child who was clearly misbehaved. Say "Because you bit, you sit". Put her in your designated spot. Turn around and stop feeding her your attention for a few minutes.
I don't see how she handled it as a "reward" for the behavior. I see it more so as a means for treating her like a human being, not an object to be controlled. Also, the child is clearly seeking attention, so isolating her is not going to help...it will more than likely only add to the underlying problem.

Sometimes 4-year-olds just don't understand that what they did was wrong nor do they always feel remorse or compassion. Sometimes they are simply feeling needy and are acting out, not contemplating their actions beforehand because, well, they're little kids. I feel that aggressive behavior is a sign that they're not feeling heard or acknowledged in some way or another and they're unable to communicate these needs and feelings. I also agree with many other posters that therapy will probably help quite a bit with getting to the root of the issue (I've heard many wonderful things about art therapy for kids).

My son sometimes throws things at or near people in order to get our attention and let us know that he needs something. If we were to shun him for this or try to control his behavior then this would only make him act out more in the long run (or make him shut down internally). I feel that giving them the space to voice what they're experiencing and feeling is very helpful in honoring their needs/getting to the root of things. I've found that if I sit down with my son after he's been throwing stuff, just simply holding him and asking him questions then he will feel safe with releasing what's going on inside of him and the throwing stops. Over time, he's been throwing less and less because (I think) he's understanding more and more that he can come and tell me what's going on without having to throw and he's also simply growing out of that phase.

The bottom line is, kids just want to be heard like anyone else. They want to be seen, they want to be acknowledged, they want to be and feel loved.
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#33 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:12 PM
 
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I'd like to reassure you that if I'd been the mother of the baby who'd been bitten, I wouldn't be requiring you to do special favors for me before I could be your friend again.
You can count me in too. Some of the mamas above offered some great advice. I think if you dig a little deeper you'll begin to understand the underlying problem. My own four-year-old (as mature as she would like to think she is) sometimes has problems processing and controlling her emotions. At first I thought I was doing something horribly wrong but then began to realize that there were underlying reasons. One reason we don't throw children in jail for assault is that because we have recognized as a society that children have difficulty judging between right and wrong, especially if they haven't yet learned to manage their emotions. I think in these instances it is a great learning/teaching opportunity, especially if your own reaction is that of horror, as some have mentioned above. I know that my own DD has learned valuable lessons simply by my own reaction and sadness when she does something wrong. They won't know that it is wrong if we gloss over it in any way. It is a very difficult age, and I'm experiencing some of the frustration myself. Hugs.

"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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#34 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:23 PM
 
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She stayed up there for about 15 minutes, then came down and was being cranky and annoying, clearly seeking attention, but refusing to apologize and showing no remorse. she eventually came out of it and started being nice, but said that she didn't feel bad about biting the baby.
My child would have been taken back upstairs until they were ready to apologize.

I have 1 older sister & 2 younger brothers. When my mom was pg with my first brother I hated him. I did not see what was wrong with it being just me & my sister. Then when the baby was born & it was a BOY that made it even worse. I did not like him, I wanted him to go away. When he was 1(I was 4.5) I pushed him into the doorframe & he hit his 2 front teeth & they ended up dying. I didn't care, I wanted him to go away. When he was around 14months & put in a full body cast for hip displasia when mom left the room I'd stand him up & try to get him to walk simply because I wasn't supposed to(now I'm pretty sure my sister did too). When my mom had another baby & it was also a boy I was a little happier because that meant I didn't have to do anything with the first boy as he had his own boy to play with.

What I did & your dd did is unacceptable, but it does not mean she needs therapy or evaluation. She's 4 now & is more aware of what you having another baby means. When she was 2 & had your son she didn't have that awareness. She knows there's going to be a big change soon & is acting out becasue of it.

When she squeezes smaller kids hands she may not be aware that she is hurting them. My dd is 9 & had a friend who is quite a bit taller(seriously this kid is 5 feet tall!), she doesn't realize when she hugs her friends that she hurts them sometimes.

ETA, my brothers & I have a good relationship & have since we were younger kids. I went through a rough patch in my older teen years & took it out on them physically & they still don't hate me for it(they really should)
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#35 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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Just chiming back in to say that a bite from a friend's child would certainly not impact my friendship with that mama -- or that child!! I hope you know that none of the mamas who I know would never shun a mom going through a tough patch.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#36 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:47 PM
 
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Yeah, especially as there's a new baby coming any minute. I'd missed that when I responded before. That completely explains the behavior to me. My guess is that it'll die down after the baby has been around for a while. But I would not leave the older child with the baby alone for any period of time at all. There will be much jealousy.

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#37 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 02:02 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mammal_mama View Post
OP -- It breaks my heart to see some of these posts. Of course, I realize that for posters who've never dealt with a child who's crossed a line like this, it's just not comprehensible.

I'd like to reassure you that if I'd been the mother of the baby who'd been bitten, I wouldn't be requiring you to do special favors for me before I could be your friend again.

Sure, I'd be extra vigilant around a child who'd bitten my baby. Sure, no mama likes to see her little one get hurt. But I'd still be your friend, for sure, and you wouldn't have to jump through any hoops to keep my friendship.

This.

You didn't ignore what happened, or laugh it off, or minimize it. You responded the best way you knew how. Then you followed up with the mom later to make sure everything was all right.

Did you handle it the very best way ever? I have no idea. But hey, sh** happens when you have kids. I would never hold something like this against a mom because I realize that eventually, MY kid's going to be the biter.

Sleepy mama to Colin Theodore 8-12-08 and Trevor Arthur 7-17-12.

 

 

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#38 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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I have to say, the first thing that jumped out to me about this post was OP's signature and the way she describes the offending DD: "my pretty princess". I know I'm new around here and perhaps it sounds harsh, but I have noticed a disproportionate number of brats among the little girls I know who are parented as though they are "princesses". Seriously -- what do you think of when you think of a "princess"? A polite person? A considerate person? An intelligent, kind, or helpful person? Or a person who has learned to throw a fit (or bite) if she isn't the center of attention or she doesn't get her way?

It's a good thing that I am the mother of three boys, because I have no patience for divas. And I have to say, things would not be okay between me and a friend who allowed her four year old to bite my baby black and blue.

Catholic mother of three intact boys, ages 9 and 5 year old identical twins. Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and nutritionist in private practice. Daughter of CNM.
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#39 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 10:44 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Acupuncturist View Post
I have to say, the first thing that jumped out to me about this post was OP's signature and the way she describes the offending DD: "my pretty princess". I know I'm new around here and perhaps it sounds harsh, but I have noticed a disproportionate number of brats among the little girls I know who are parented as though they are "princesses". Seriously -- what do you think of when you think of a "princess"? A polite person? A considerate person? An intelligent, kind, or helpful person? Or a person who has learned to throw a fit (or bite) if she isn't the center of attention or she doesn't get her way?

It's a good thing that I am the mother of three boys, because I have no patience for divas. And I have to say, things would not be okay between me and a friend who allowed her four year old to bite my baby black and blue.
Aww.. that's not true at all. A girl who likes to be pretty or princessy is not bratty. This little girl isn't bratty. She did something very wrong, but it has nothing to do with mom's description of her. This child was held accountable. Mom never once tried to make up an excuse for her. She didn't ALLOW it.

I LOVE princess stuff. I'd wear a sparlkley tutu and carry a magic wand if I didn't think I'd look like an idiot. I love that she's a pretty princess!
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#40 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 11:18 PM
 
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This little girl isn't bratty. She did something very wrong, but it has nothing to do with mom's description of her. This child was held accountable. Mom never once tried to make up an excuse for her. She didn't ALLOW it.
I'm sorry, I guess I don't see in the original post where the little girl was held accountable. OP states:

"She knew she did something wrong because she was sitting in the corner with her head down. I quietly brought her upstairs to her bed, and talked to her about how it was very bad to bite a baby, how much she hurt her, etc. At firat she was upset and crying, but then DD basically just got pissy, and said "I thought you were a good mommy, but now you are being a bad mommy!"

She stayed up there for about 15 minutes, then came down and was being cranky and annoying, clearly seeking attention, but refusing to apologize and showing no remorse. she eventually came out of it and started being nice, but said that she didn't feel bad about biting the baby."


This is not accountability. It is permissiveness. I do not have perfect kids and I know what it's like to be the parent of the biter -- I speak from the experience of having had two kids (my twins) who went through a bad biting phase (when they were 18 months old). My husband is a professor of child development at a major university and we have done our best to provide our kids with consequences that mimic what they will experience in the real world (as appropriate to their age, of course). When you do socially unacceptable things like bite, people are don't like it and don't want to be your friend. For a two year old this means using an angry mommy voice and removing the child from the play date for a period of time. For a four year old this means putting on a show of being absolutely horrified and certainly not allowing the child to rejoin the social occasion that day.

Catholic mother of three intact boys, ages 9 and 5 year old identical twins. Licensed acupuncturist, herbalist, and nutritionist in private practice. Daughter of CNM.
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#41 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 11:21 PM
 
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I'm sorry, I guess I don't see in the original post where the little girl was held accountable. OP states:

"She knew she did something wrong because she was sitting in the corner with her head down. I quietly brought her upstairs to her bed, and talked to her about how it was very bad to bite a baby, how much she hurt her, etc. At firat she was upset and crying, but then DD basically just got pissy, and said "I thought you were a good mommy, but now you are being a bad mommy!"

She stayed up there for about 15 minutes, then came down and was being cranky and annoying, clearly seeking attention, but refusing to apologize and showing no remorse. she eventually came out of it and started being nice, but said that she didn't feel bad about biting the baby."


This is not accountability. It is permissiveness. I do not have perfect kids and I know what it's like to be the parent of the biter -- I speak from the experience of having had two kids (my twins) who went through a bad biting phase (when they were 18 months old). My husband is a professor of child development at a major university and we have done our best to provide our kids with consequences that mimic what they will experience in the real world (as appropriate to their age, of course). When you do socially unacceptable things like bite, people are don't like it and don't want to be your friend. For a two year old this means using an angry mommy voice and removing the child from the play date for a period of time. For a four year old this means putting on a show of being absolutely horrified and certainly not allowing the child to rejoin the social occasion that day.
I'm sorry, but I agree with the above post.

I think the princess thing is a bit of a stretch, fwiw.

Trying to live a simple life in a messy house in a complicated world with : DH, DD (b. 07/07), DS (b. 02/09), and DD (b. 10/10)
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#42 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 11:46 PM
 
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I have to say, the first thing that jumped out to me about this post was OP's signature and the way she describes the offending DD: "my pretty princess". I know I'm new around here and perhaps it sounds harsh, but I have noticed a disproportionate number of brats among the little girls I know who are parented as though they are "princesses". Seriously -- what do you think of when you think of a "princess"? A polite person? A considerate person? An intelligent, kind, or helpful person? Or a person who has learned to throw a fit (or bite) if she isn't the center of attention or she doesn't get her way?

It's a good thing that I am the mother of three boys, because I have no patience for divas. And I have to say, things would not be okay between me and a friend who allowed her four year old to bite my baby black and blue.
The leap from "pretty princess" to "diva" is very judgmental, unsubstantiated and completely off-topic.

OP- do you feel that you parent "permissively"? Or do you have clear rules and guidelines for your 4 yr old? I have a 4.5 yr old and while I tend to lean towards permissiveness, I recognize that his behavior improves with clear expectations and consequences (no means no, etc.).
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#43 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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Those of you who are dawging princesses really need to watch, "The Princess Protection Program." Also, "The Princess Diaries."

I mean, if the OP put "crunchy mom" in her siggy would you assume that this was the cause of the biting? The poor kid just needs more Micky D's and then she won't bite?

Or if she put "AP mama" or "breastfeeding mom" (for all I know she may have, 'cause I can't remember), would you be saying it must be all the breastmilk she got during those early formative years?

OP, I still think you're doing a great job.

I guess there really are a few folks out there who would dis another mama over this, but rest assured there are many of us who would stand by you! Many of us know that we'll need our friends to stand by us, many times.

I suppose it's natural to look for ways to blame the OP about the incident. After all, we live in a rather blaming society, with all kinds of lawsuits and all kinds of bending-over-backward to avoid getting blamed for something. It can be really hard to avoid being blame-and-shame focused and to choose the path of understanding and empathy instead.

But I believe the OP will be really glad she chose the higher road. OP, I hope you're giving your little princess lots of love and cuddling, and just enjoying these precious days before your new little one arrives!

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#44 of 46 Old 10-10-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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I know I'm new around here
Yes, new. MDC is a great place to come for support. If you read through the thread you will see that lots of mamas gave similar practical advice as you gave. The OP replied that she is going to get some additional help.

If I were you I would have mentioned that I agreed with some of the PP (previous posters) and checked to see how the OP was going with the extra help.

If I really felt the princess thing was super important I may have asked the OP for more info about that word in their family or gently suggested that she consider the implications of that word and why you feel that way.

I think the GD (gentle discipline) forum is a great place to practice GD!!!

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#45 of 46 Old 10-10-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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I don't see how she handled it as a "reward" for the behavior. I see it more so as a means for treating her like a human being, not an object to be controlled. Also, the child is clearly seeking attention, so isolating her is not going to help...it will more than likely only add to the underlying problem.

Sometimes 4-year-olds just don't understand that what they did was wrong nor do they always feel remorse or compassion. Sometimes they are simply feeling needy and are acting out, not contemplating their actions beforehand because, well, they're little kids. I feel that aggressive behavior is a sign that they're not feeling heard or acknowledged in some way or another and they're unable to communicate these needs and feelings. I also agree with many other posters that therapy will probably help quite a bit with getting to the root of the issue (I've heard many wonderful things about art therapy for kids).

My son sometimes throws things at or near people in order to get our attention and let us know that he needs something. If we were to shun him for this or try to control his behavior then this would only make him act out more in the long run (or make him shut down internally). I feel that giving them the space to voice what they're experiencing and feeling is very helpful in honoring their needs/getting to the root of things. I've found that if I sit down with my son after he's been throwing stuff, just simply holding him and asking him questions then he will feel safe with releasing what's going on inside of him and the throwing stops. Over time, he's been throwing less and less because (I think) he's understanding more and more that he can come and tell me what's going on without having to throw and he's also simply growing out of that phase.

The bottom line is, kids just want to be heard like anyone else. They want to be seen, they want to be acknowledged, they want to be and feel loved.
My problem with the bolded is that the OP was giving positive attention to the negative behavior. If you say, "Because you bit, you sit" and then make sure they stay sitting for a few minutes, its paying less attention to negative behavior. When children are given attention (any kind) for negative behavior, they continue to do it. They need to be given positive attention when they do positive things, and realize that when they do negative things they don't get attention, and there are consequences.
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#46 of 46 Old 10-10-2010, 08:15 PM
 
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The action, to me, reads as aggression. Now, aggression is a perfectly normal human behavior but it needs to be carefully directed. I think the stress and inevitable reduction in attention that is happening and which is going to likely increase when the new little one moves in is elevating her need to express her aggression and reducing her impulse control. Having aggressive feelings in no way means she is unloving or mean or incapable of very tender acts of empathy you described with her younger sibling. Is there some way she can get out her aggressive impulses in a way that is not harmful to others? A karate class, perhaps? A punching bag?

Therapy does not indicate something is horribly wrong with your child and it is a travesty that it is not more widely available. Therapy will most likely help her tremendously and would likely help any child whether there is an identified "problem" or not. We're not saying your child is "broken" by saying she needs therapy, merely that she needs someone (preferably experienced in the field) to help her process her emotions and provide both of you with acceptable, alternative outlets for her aggression.

I would also wonder if perhaps she has realized (probably unconsciously) that saying she is not remorseful garners her more of your coveted attention. I'm guessing that, in the past, a "talk" about what she did wrong usually ends when she acknowledges the appropriate feelings of sorrow and remorse and promises not to do it again - she doesn't seem to want that attention to end so it follows that if she refuses to express the statements you want her to, you will continue talking with her about it. I would see what happens if you ignore her negative statements (as they likely do not represent her actual feelings) and reward, with one-on-one attention, acts and statements of empathy.

I'm so sorry you are both going through this, it is clearly a stressful and emotional time for both you and your DD.
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