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

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#1 of 46 Old 10-01-2010, 06:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My DD has always had issues with younger ones- I would catch her squeezing them, pushing them, etc for no reason. She never did this to her little brother though, and has never had any issue with older kids or kids her own age, and never had an issue at preschool.

Well today I had a friend over and my DD bit her 14-month old's face so bad it immediately turned black and blue I was horrified. I had no idea what to do. 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.

WHAT DO YOU DO IN THIS SITUATION?!?!?! My husband is so desperate to spank her, but I know that will not help matters. She *generally* does not have behavior issues like this, but does seem to like to pick on babies. Which is great since I am due with one in 3 weeks :/

Amy, mommy to Ava, 6, Gavin, 4, Lila, 2, and Baby #4 due in early November! joy.gif
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#2 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 01:42 PM
 
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I like Barbara Coloroso's advice when your child gets physically violent, "if you hit/shove/bite... you sit". And, considering it was a playdate I would end the playdate immediately. Then I would have a long talk with DD, and we would figure out what went wrong, how to prevent it next time, and what we should do to make the little girl feel better.

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#3 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 02:14 PM
 
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I'd expect her not only to apologize, but to make amends. Give the baby something she likes or do something nice for the baby. My child would probably be put down for a nap right away too - if a child's impulse control is that poor and judgement is that poor I generally blame lack of sleep. 4yo is WAY too old to be biting people randomly, IMO. I am someone who does believe in forced apology, so YMMV.

HOWEVER, if this is something that didn't 100% surprise you, but only like 50% surprised you (which it seems may be the case) then I'll admit I think YOU should also be making amends and doing something nice for this toddler and the family. It is completely unacceptable for a kid to do that, and if you had any idea that she would do something like that she should not have been allowed to have the opportunity. I actually think that even if you didn't know your child could do such a thing you'd want to make it up to the family somehow.

Sorry, I know I sound harsh. I just imagine the little toddler being bit in the face and how I'd feel if it were my kid. 4 is not 3 or 2 - and if your child behaves at a 3 or 2 or 1 year old level then you should provide that level of supervision.

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#4 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 02:29 PM
 
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Honestly, I would look into counseling for her. If this is a long running problem of her hurting smaller children, there is a larger issue. I don't know what that issue might be. A four year old is CERTAINLY old enough to have the self-restraint not to bite a baby/toddler on the cheek. There was a 2yo at our playgroup who hit babies, and that was pretty awful but at 2 they really have no self-restraint or understanding of empathy. At 4 that is not an excuse.

I also agree that spanking won't work. It may not even be a job for the sort of discipline you can do: I obviously think that there should be some sort of repercussions, but it does sound like this is a larger issue. So I would seek some professional input on where she is getting these feelings about hurting younger children.

As for repercussions, I'm thinking the logical consequence for being mean to younger children is that she doesn't get taken places where younger children might be. The playground, the museum, the petting zoo, story hour, etc. Whatever it is that you guys do for fun. And certainly no more playdates with friends who have younger siblings. She can have all these privileges back when she's ready to be nice to other children.

That poor baby Have you apologized to the family, too? That would probably be the polite thing to do.

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#5 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 03:00 PM
 
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I agree with lach. And OP, I know you will soon have 3 LO's but it will have to be you and your DH's responsibility to be 100% on top of your 4 year old if she is around any younger kids.

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#6 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 08:14 PM
 
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My gut reaction to your subject line is: FREAK OUT.

Although I am a fan of handling things calmly most times, this is one time that I would personally allow my horror and upset to come through. I'm not saying I would say anything mean but I would want my child to know how completely and utterly unacceptable that is. Now that the moment's passed though, it's passed. I agree that making amends is the logical next step.

I think from now on she needs to be shadowed around younger kids. And I agree with Lach too...it may be that your daughter is an outlier for normal but I think you might need to have her evaluated.

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#7 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 09:00 PM
 
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My gut reaction to your subject line is: FREAK OUT.

Although I am a fan of handling things calmly most times, this is one time that I would personally allow my horror and upset to come through. I'm not saying I would say anything mean but I would want my child to know how completely and utterly unacceptable that is. Now that the moment's passed though, it's passed. I agree that making amends is the logical next step.

It's complicated.
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#8 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 09:13 PM
 
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Although I am a fan of handling things calmly most times, this is one time that I would personally allow my horror and upset to come through. I'm not saying I would say anything mean but I would want my child to know how completely and utterly unacceptable that is.



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I think from now on she needs to be shadowed around younger kids.
So true it nearly goes without saying. DC needs 100% supervision around young kids and I would feel obligated to tell the caregivers of kids that DC is around.

Sorry you're going through this, mama!! That must have been such a hard day. Hugs to you.

Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#9 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 11:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the replies. I spoke with the mom of this baby several times about this, both right after the incident, and then later that evening through facebook- we are friends. She knew I was horrified, and I admitted to her that I just did not know what to do in this situation. Although she obviously wasn't happy about her baby getting hurt, she understood, and things are totally fine.

Yes, I will not leave my DD unattended with younger kids for sure. The other few times I have seen her do things to younger babies have been right in front of me- it was mostly like grabbing their hands and squeezing them too hard, or just pushing them down, which are obviously unacceptable, but I never in a MILLION years thought she would do something like this. She is normally such a sweet girl, and I know she gets very upset when her brother gets hurt- he recently burned his hand on the stove, and she started crying because she was so upset, and she held the ice pack on it for him and "mothered" him for an hour. So it isn't that she doesn't show compassion or empathy. I think she is just asserting herself as the "big kid" or something. I don't know. I am friends with someone who specializes in redirecting children's behavior, so maybe I will ask her what she thinks. Ugh, what a crappy situation.

Amy, mommy to Ava, 6, Gavin, 4, Lila, 2, and Baby #4 due in early November! joy.gif
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#10 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 11:49 PM
 
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I don't think it is unheard of for 4 year olds to occasionally bully smaller children, which at this age means toddlers. But if you know she has this trigger she should be supervised.

I have a crystal clear memory of deliberately hurting a newborn baby when I was four. I had a new baby sister at home and knew better than to hurt her. But when I saw another newborn baby I thought he was boring and wanted to make him do something interesting. I waited for his mother to leave the room and then pinched him as hard as I could. When he started to scream his mother ran into the room and asked what happened. I lied sweetly and said I didn't know. And now I am the moderator of the GD forum, so yes this can be normal and a child can certainly outgrow it

Mother is the word for God on the hearts and lips of all little children--William Makepeace Thackeray
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#11 of 46 Old 10-02-2010, 11:53 PM
 
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My 5yo went through a very physically-aggressive phase when she was younger. It actually led to the breakup of one of my friendships, when dd (then almost 3) got really violent with my friend's 7 yo when the 7 yo was visiting my older dd.

My friend just very strongly felt that I needed to be spanking my dd, and that the ways in which I was dealing with the behavior were inadequate.

I honestly can't say that I figured out the "right" way to handle it, but dd's behavior has gradually improved with maturity. We did learn that she is sensory-seeking.

A couple of years ago we were at the playground, I can't rememember dd2's exact age, but she was running around with some other kids playing tag or something. And some teenagers had brought a baby who wasn't crawling yet, and just laid the baby on a ledge of the playground equipment while they were sitting a few feet away talking.

And I saw dd running past the spot where I knew the baby had been laid, and then I saw the baby falling to the ground just as dd went by. And I ran to dd (the teen girl had gone to scoop up the baby) and asked her if she'd pushed the baby off the ledge, and she said yes.

I definitely went through a long period of wanting to just hole up in the house with my child, I was so scared of what she might do next.

I honestly don't have answers, since as I've said it's not like I "solved" the problem, I just kind of avoided situations with other kids with my youngest until she was more able to control her impulses. I just wanted to reassure you that it seems like "forever" when we're in the midst of these stages but it does get better.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#12 of 46 Old 10-03-2010, 02:11 AM
 
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My gut reaction to your subject line is: FREAK OUT.

Although I am a fan of handling things calmly most times, this is one time that I would personally allow my horror and upset to come through. I'm not saying I would say anything mean but I would want my child to know how completely and utterly unacceptable that is. Now that the moment's passed though, it's passed. I agree that making amends is the logical next step.

I think from now on she needs to be shadowed around younger kids. And I agree with Lach too...it may be that your daughter is an outlier for normal but I think you might need to have her evaluated.
Yup. My thoughts exactly. It's all good to be calm, but sometimes you gotta raise the momma lion and show your true feelings. that is SO SO SO SO not o.k!

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ds (2-23-09)
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#13 of 46 Old 10-03-2010, 01:37 PM
 
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I would probably scream, "YOU MAY NEVER, EVER, EVER HURT A BABY!!!" and then sit her in a chair for a ridiculously long time.

Beyond that, if it happened more than once, she would have to stay within my reach when other kids were over for a while.

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13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#14 of 46 Old 10-03-2010, 02:47 PM
 
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Yes, I will not leave my DD unattended with younger kids for sure. The other few times I have seen her do things to younger babies have been right in front of me- it was mostly like grabbing their hands and squeezing them too hard, or just pushing them down, which are obviously unacceptable, but I never in a MILLION years thought she would do something like this. She is normally such a sweet girl...
If she only does this when you are around, is it possible that she thinks you are paying too much attention to the babies and wants your attention? Could she be thinking these babies are taking "her" mommies attention from her and lashing out? Could you try giving her more attention when you are with younger kids so she knows she's not losing mommy's attention to the babies?

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#15 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 03:38 AM
 
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Reading this thread reminded me of a little girl we knew. She was around four years old and it seemed that when she had an opportunity she would hurt younger children especially babies. Things like pinching, twisting, pushing. etc. At the time, parents came to know that they needed to be with their younger child if she was around. Now she is seven and is a delight. She is now very gentle and caring with younger ones.
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#16 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 09:26 AM
 
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I think counselling could help, not because it's completely abnormal, but because a counselor might be able to figure out what's going through her mind as far as this goes.

I think spanking would just reinforce this behavior. Bigger people have a right to be physically aggressive with younger people. That's the opposite of the message she needs to learn. If you weren't on a GD forum, I'd wonder if spanking were the trigger of this, because it sometimes does trigger kids to become aggressive to those smaller than them.

Until she gets past it, shadow her, like the PPs said, and be prepared to leave playdates if she's having trouble any particular day.

You could also look at her diet as a possible trigger.
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#17 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 12:22 PM
 
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She didn't do it for no reason. You are due in 3 weeks. What are you doing to get ready for the new addition? You likely can't do many of the things you did even a month ago in terms of babying her. People are very likely talking non-stop about the coming baby and asking her incessantly about becoming a big sister.

As a preventative measure, I'd start pouring on the attention now and get your husband on the same page. These are your very last few days with her all alone. I wish you and her much sweet enjoyment of that time.

You may want to tell your husband that introducing spanking at the same time you introduce a new sibling is likely to be a disaster.
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#18 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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*hugs* I'm sure you were shocked by this. Remember, our kids are amazing little ppl and their actions aren't always our fault.
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#19 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 05:34 PM
 
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I'm not exactly going through this, but my 4yo got a baby sister 4 months ago and i have seen some pretty ugly things since. For example she has only once physically hurt her sister (accidental headbutt when trying to lift her from the bouncer, though she knew not to) but she often says cruel things. Fortunately of course DD2 doesn't understand, but it's hard to hear your kid shouting "i hope you die in your SLEEP!" at your baby! I basically shower attention on the baby and ignore DD1 when she says these things. She did once deliberately throw a hard toy at the baby's head (missed thank goodness, but very narrowly) and i immediately screamed at the top of my lungs "YOU DO NOT HURT THE BABY! GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!" but mainly that was because as gentle as i am in FACT, i really wanted to hit her in that moment. My mama-bear came out and i had to stay away from her for 5 or so minutes to cool off. She's never done anything like it since.

Try to remember she is not you, you are not her. She's herself and making her own choices. Often those choices might be unwise and you have to guide her to better choices, but that doesn't make the poor choices your fault.
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#20 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 07:03 PM
 
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Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
My gut reaction to your subject line is: FREAK OUT.

Although I am a fan of handling things calmly most times, this is one time that I would personally allow my horror and upset to come through. I'm not saying I would say anything mean but I would want my child to know how completely and utterly unacceptable that is. Now that the moment's passed though, it's passed. I agree that making amends is the logical next step.

I think from now on she needs to be shadowed around younger kids. And I agree with Lach too...it may be that your daughter is an outlier for normal but I think you might need to have her evaluated.
Omygosh! I would have freaked out too.

I feel for you, because I have no idea how I would have handled that. (other than to freak out) That poor mommy of the baby. I would have cried if I were her.

Four is just too old to bite such a small child. I think I would be taking this very, very seriously, and call that mom to let her know that you are taking this seriously. Even if you don't know what to do yet, please just tell her that you are doing research and you will be dealing with this.

I would not allow your daughter to be around other small children any more until you feel like you have a handle on this. This could become a very serious problem for your family. (Imagine if it had broken the skin.. there would have been medical bills that you would have to pay)
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#21 of 46 Old 10-07-2010, 11:59 PM
 
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I'm not exactly going through this, but my 4yo got a baby sister 4 months ago and i have seen some pretty ugly things since. For example she has only once physically hurt her sister (accidental headbutt when trying to lift her from the bouncer, though she knew not to) but she often says cruel things. Fortunately of course DD2 doesn't understand, but it's hard to hear your kid shouting "i hope you die in your SLEEP!" at your baby! I basically shower attention on the baby and ignore DD1 when she says these things. She did once deliberately throw a hard toy at the baby's head (missed thank goodness, but very narrowly) and i immediately screamed at the top of my lungs "YOU DO NOT HURT THE BABY! GET OUT! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!" but mainly that was because as gentle as i am in FACT, i really wanted to hit her in that moment. My mama-bear came out and i had to stay away from her for 5 or so minutes to cool off. She's never done anything like it since.

Try to remember she is not you, you are not her. She's herself and making her own choices. Often those choices might be unwise and you have to guide her to better choices, but that doesn't make the poor choices your fault.
I had something similar happen. When my youngest was about 6 weeks old I had laid him down on the floor and stepped into the kitchen. He was still in view. I was talking to my husband and our oldest, then 4, either kicked him or stepped on his stomach. He let out a bloodcurdling scream. She had never done anything like that before and hasn't since. She said she was upset because he wouldn't look at her.

I was so desperately scared that she had really hurt him and beyond any anger I've ever felt. I made my husband take her to her bedroom and keep her there for fear I would hurt her. Because in that moment I really really wanted to. I don't know how he kept his calm, but I am so glad he was home.
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#22 of 46 Old 10-08-2010, 01:37 AM
 
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I cannot say what I would do, as it would violate the rules here. I really do not support spanking. But, I would go along with your husband. But the rules here say we cannot support spanking ever, so they only opinions you will get here would be not spanking.

Whatever you do, it needs to be drastic and should have been immediate.
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#23 of 46 Old 10-08-2010, 01:42 AM
 
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I should add, I have/had a friend. I met her on a parenting board years ago, but not this one. She would babysit children in her home. One of the children, a little girl, would get hit and pushed by her older brother. She usually had extensive injuries on her, bruises and such, from the brother. The parents did not do enough to protect that little girl. Finally, she felt she had no choice and called CPS. CPS came out and originally said they would take the child out of the home, but then decided to do parenting classes instead. Needless to say, the children stopped coming to her home for babysitting and went elsewhere.

A week later, or so, I don't know the exact dates, the little boy shoved the little girl down such that she sustained brain injury and died a week later. The parents did not think it would come to that. I am sure the shoved and bites would not lead to this. They probably even thought it was just sibling stuff. But the little girl is dead. Even if that little boy moves on from this, he will always know he killed his little sister. Even if he is not told by the parents, it was in the news. I don't know if the details about what he did were there, but there was something in the news about it.

I am not saying it will come to this, but the wrong hit, the wrong bite, whatever, could be fatal. Plus, she could have lived and if she lived, she would have been seriously brain damaged, so there is more than just deaths. I am sure that little boy did not intend to kill his sister, but his parents did not take strong enough action against his attacks all that time.
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#24 of 46 Old 10-08-2010, 01:48 AM
 
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I'd expect her not only to apologize, but to make amends. Give the baby something she likes or do something nice for the baby. My child would probably be put down for a nap right away too - if a child's impulse control is that poor and judgement is that poor I generally blame lack of sleep. 4yo is WAY too old to be biting people randomly, IMO. I am someone who does believe in forced apology, so YMMV.

HOWEVER, if this is something that didn't 100% surprise you, but only like 50% surprised you (which it seems may be the case) then I'll admit I think YOU should also be making amends and doing something nice for this toddler and the family. It is completely unacceptable for a kid to do that, and if you had any idea that she would do something like that she should not have been allowed to have the opportunity. I actually think that even if you didn't know your child could do such a thing you'd want to make it up to the family somehow.

Sorry, I know I sound harsh. I just imagine the little toddler being bit in the face and how I'd feel if it were my kid. 4 is not 3 or 2 - and if your child behaves at a 3 or 2 or 1 year old level then you should provide that level of supervision.

Tjej
I have to agree with this. If this were my baby, I would have been horrified and never ever want to have a playdate, or friendship again. If I did continue, out of pity or whatever, and I really am not saying this to be mean, I would be quite guarded. I might only come around if you were to tell me you were having her evaluated by a psychologist and if I saw very pointed discipline limits being put.

There is no shame in having a child with special needs, if you take care of them. I have had children who have had some special needs. If she has something going on, the earlier the intervention, the better her chances will be for the long run. It is not within the range of norm for a 4 yr old to do this. I would say maybe a 2 yr old might try this, but not 4 yr old.

((((hugs)))) Please know that I know this is hard for you and you are going through a lot. I hope I have not hurt your feelings in any way. You do have my support though. I hope I have helped somewhat.
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#25 of 46 Old 10-08-2010, 09:08 AM
 
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I'm glad you are taking this seriously! Obviously LOTS of awesome little kiddos do the occasional thing that is WAY, WAY out of line... I agree with everyone that 4 is obviously too old to be biting a baby (barring any special needs). In the moment, I probably would have really freaked out, (not a time to be sweet and understanding IMO) and my DD's fun for the day would have been OVER. In addition, (and it is certainly not too late to do this) I'd make sure that there were some consequences for this behavior. I'd have her dictate an apology to me to mail (we just did this for a friend b/c my DD "borrowed" a tiny duck without asking) AND I'd make sure that SHE knew about the next few fun things she was missing (playdates, park trips, etc- whether it was true or not) because I could not trust her around little kids-- logical consequence IMO.
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#26 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 12:33 AM
 
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I do agree that the behaviour was unacceptable and horrific.
I wouldn't agree that it necessarily signal special needs (unless there are other indicators). Some children are capable of feeling jealous rage to the point of not being able to control themselves, does she view younger children as competition, especially as you are expecting? I've seen my very good friend's son (also 4) bite his older brother's cheek out of frustration this summer. My dd (4 as well) will not bite others, but will attempt to bite herself when really mad.
However, since she's had prior issues with aggression towards babies, and since you are expecting I would ask my dr. for help or recommendation of a therapist. You do not want something like this happening ever again, and not to your precious new baby.

SAHM to one moody son J hat.gif(06-27-03), one super-girly daughter M hearts.gif (02-23-06) and welcome Sophie! energy.gif(05-23-10) expecting fourth in July baby.gif

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#27 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:33 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.

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#28 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 01:46 AM
 
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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 (and I do have one child who crossed lines like this, and her toddlerhood lasted well beyond age four, too), 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.

I'm reminded of the book Mothering Your Nursing Toddler. The author, Norma Jane Bumgarner, shared about how judgemental she'd felt toward the mother of a child who bit one of her children. Since none of her children up to that point had gone through an aggressive phase like this, she'd assumed it was a parenting problem.

Then her next child ended up going through a really aggressive phase ... not that I'd wish these difficult times on anyone. I just do sometimes wish that more folks were capable of feeling empathy for the parents of biters, hitters, shovers, and pinchers. I understand that this is kind of a tall order, though. So we just need to support one another.

Susan -- married unschoolin' WAHMomma to two lovely girls (born 2000 and 2005).
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#29 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 02:36 AM
 
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when i was 4 i bit my older sister on the butt cheek. yeah, i chomped her butt. it was bad!

my point it its not all that abnormal. i think 4 is a trying time because they are starting to truly find themselves.

i would have her write a letter (with help) to the little one and i would restrict and 'fun' things for 4 days (because she is 4) and that seems like a good number. . she does need to understand that what she did was wrong.

s mama!

Your life doesnât change by the man whos elected. If your loved by someone you can't be rejected... decide what to be and go be it! If your a caged bird brake in and demand that somebody free it.
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#30 of 46 Old 10-09-2010, 07:33 AM
 
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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.

And don't get too worried about what this behavior represents in the long term. A lot of kids do things like this at her age. You can help her to get past it.
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