What do you do when your child bites? - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
 
Thread Tools
#1 of 18 Old 05-23-2013, 08:33 AM - Thread Starter
 
mamazee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: US midwest
Posts: 7,246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
One of my kids bit for a short while during a toddler aggressive phase. I tried to treat it like any other toddler aggression and be right there watching here and stop anything before it reached that point and then tell her to be gentle with people if it happened. But while biting is the same to a toddler as hitting or any other aggression, it feels different to use as a parent! I've had kids on the receiving end of biting too, and it feels different when your kid is bit than hit too.

How do you handle this challenging behavior?
mamazee is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
#2 of 18 Old 05-23-2013, 04:09 PM
 
skycheattraffic's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Posts: 2,699
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My DD was a young toddler when she had her biting phase (I'm talking sometime between 15 and 18 months) and I just modified my hitting approach to "no biting. Gentle kisses only". It worked great because it was only DH, grandma or me she'd ever try to bite so these were great people to give kisses to instead. If we're talking about 3 year olds biting strangers on the playground, then I certainly wouldn't encourage kisses instead lol. I'm stumped on that one and consider myself very lucky that DD is usually a gentle 2 year old.
skycheattraffic is offline  
#3 of 18 Old 05-25-2013, 01:21 AM
 
ronart's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: North America
Posts: 55
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

When my little one bit me I was surprised and screamed OUCH!!!  It really hurt.  I think I scared him also... oops. Now I sing a little song...  "We don't bite mama, we don't bite papa, but most importantly, we dont bite (insert child's name)"  He laughs and smiles.  

ronart is offline  
#4 of 18 Old 05-25-2013, 03:01 AM
 
demeter888's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Pinellas County, FL
Posts: 334
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I first of all like to make sure nobody else is teaching him this or any type of retaliatory behavior.  Aside from that, I also think it depends on the age of the toddler. A 15 month old I would just say "gentle" and show the better behavior choice, but with a 2-3 year old I would be more upset in my reaction to show them disapproval that they are doing something "wrong" because it hurts.  Finally, I just go upside they head:-)

 

OK, I'm kidding on the last part.

demeter888 is offline  
#5 of 18 Old 05-26-2013, 07:59 AM
 
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,677
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 121 Post(s)

With my two, I treated hitting and biting pretty strongly - figuring I was super relaxed about most things, tried to say "yes" to most things and etc. and a big part of that is so I could reserve strong reactions for things that meant a lot to me. I always acted super surprised, concerned and emphasized, "Oh, my goodness, we don't do that."  I think both of my kids were pretty mild spirited in terms of hitting/biting but this "worked" very well for them and each have done it just a handful of times (or less).  


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#6 of 18 Old 06-03-2013, 10:27 PM
 
Aletheia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Montana
Posts: 1,292
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
My DS2 began biting as a young toddler.  We tried all that has been suggested here, but he always bit in frustration and anger, not just in experimentation or silliness.  We started keeping an Under the Nile soft stuffed teether nearby, and I can still remember the importance of keeping it nearby so that we could quickly hand "Bitey Frog" to DS2 when he needed it.  Poor Bitey Frog.  He took it well, though, and eventually we got two Bitey Babies so that one could always be at hand.

His biting got slightly better as his verbal skills caught up to his desire to interact with big brother, who was almost always on the receiving end of the biting.  But things did get worse again as he got to be 3.  He even bit a neighbor at one point, and after he had bit two kids in two separate instances at school, I was beside myself.  And then he bit his big brother and broke the skin.  

I'm not proud of this, but about a week later, he bit me.  And I bit him back.  Hard.  It felt awful to do, but years of talking, gentle reminders, redirection, numerous bitey toys... I couldn't do it anymore.  I bit him the once. And we cried together.  And I told him that the biting- his, mine, all of it- was never happening again.  That was a year ago, shortly before he turned 4.  He has bitten his brother since then, but no one else, and not hard enough to leave a mark.  (We've also worked with his brother to be better at defending himself, and to scream NO BITING when he sees it coming.)  


Please don't throw things at me.  It was an awful experience as it was.  greensad.gif

Distraction is not the same thing as play.
Be part of the diaper free revolution. 

DS1, 6 years.  DS2, 4 years.  DS3, brand new!  (April 2012)
 

Aletheia is offline  
#7 of 18 Old 06-04-2013, 11:25 PM
 
stellastar's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 6
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

like you I tried to deflect the biting whenever I could, and gently explained that it hurt.  I also tried to channel her aggressive behaviour into play, so we did lots of gentle roughousing games, where she would try to chase me, bite me or attack me, and I would try and escape. Sometimes I would give her a pillow to bite. I learnt from Hand in Hand Parenting, that aggression is a sign of fear, and one of the ways that fear is released is through laughing, (that and crying is the bodys natural healing process from stress and upsets) so when we roughoused I would do whatever I could to get her laughing in a way where she got to take on the most powerful role. 

 

In my daughter's case she had had a difficult and long birth, with a vaucuum extraction, so I'm pretty sure this was where the fear came from. 

 

one time I gently set a limit with my daughter, when she tried to bite me when we went out, (I didn't have time to turn it into play), I said ''please don't bite me,'' and then she burst into tears. She cried really strongly for a few minutes. After that the biting completely dissapeared. I realised afterwards that she was crying to express some of the fear behind the biting (tears contain cortisol the stress hormone and other toxins from the body) and then the fear was gone. 

 

The biting does come back from time to time, particularly if we've been having a stressful time, and then I just repeat the process, lots of playtime laughter, and gentle words if she tries to bite. 

stellastar is offline  
#8 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 12:15 PM
 
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,677
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 121 Post(s)

 

Aletheia, I really appreciate you sharing because I think one of the most helpful things we can do as gentle parents is be honest with both ourselves and also to our fellow mothers. It does not serve anyone when we aren't open with our struggles and open even when we have results that conflict with our values. 

 

I think the important thing to do with an experience like yours is to really look deeply at what's going on here. Because we all aspire to gentle discipline, we need to get a good picture of what happens when non-gentle solutions appear to work either for ourselves or for other people in our life. 

 

Because we all aspire to gentle discipline, we need to get a good picture of what happens when non-gentle solutions appear to work either for ourselves or for other people in our life. 

 

What I feel I see a lot with harsh discipline is a need to feel it "works" because for most parents (hopefully) this is the last resort. But we see that it doesn't seem to actually work when we look closer at the situation. In this case, biting the child did not stop the child from biting. I know you said you saw an correlation between biting your child and your child not biting you (and other kids) but he is still biting his brother. Given that the experience was very painful for both of you, it is not an experiment you can keep trying and certainly not one that you can allow his brother to use, you are left still having to experiment with gentle solutions. 

 

This is part of the problem for physical discipline. It is just so limited. 

 

Aletheia, I know you said you tried this in desperation and that you feel it worked but I wanted to discuss this advice for a few reasons. First to point out that, IMO, it didn't work all that well. Yes, an improvement maybe, but given the severity of the discipline method I feel like the consequences may not be worth it for another parent on the boards to try, yk?  In addition to emotional and physical consequences, there is the very real possibility that this could send the exact opposite message you're trying to send. You could very well be reinforcing the message that you bite when angry, hurt, frustrated, at a loss for another way to deal with a situation. 

 

I feel pretty badly about discussing possible consequences because we're talking about your beautiful children. Let me first say that I think kids are terribly resilient and I don't believe a loving parent can permanently damage a kid by resorting to harsh discipline in desperation. But there is a good body of research into the harmfulness of physical discipline. 

 

And, I bring  this up lastly because Mothering is not a place that wishes to host discussions that advocate physical or harsh discipline. This is because they are known to be ineffective and harmful when looked at from a broad perspective. 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#9 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 03:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
mamazee's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: US midwest
Posts: 7,246
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Biting is often related to verbal skills, as I read up above. In those cases, I think the best thing to do is work on verbal skills. Even for kids who are speaking reasonably well, working on verbal skills is a good way to help with biting. They usually are biting to express frustration and anger, and when they can talk about those feelings with words, the biting often stops.

I wouldn't bite a child to try to get them to stop because it does seem very harsh, and also I worry about sending a counterproductive message. If you make a behavior stop by biting, a lesson they might learn is that they too can get someone to stop a behavior by biting.
mamazee is offline  
#10 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 05:13 PM
 
Jennyanydots's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,374
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)

I had a HIGHLY verbal toddler with a biting problem, when she was around 2-3 years old. It was awful.  She had a fairly aggressive playmate who was usually (though not always) the biting victim- this child didn't hit or hurt my DD, but she was a forceful hugger and frequently touched, hugged, or pushed DD.  DD was a very touch-me-not child, and I think biting was often her response to feeling threatened.  It was awful, though, and a terrible feeling to have my child responsible for injuring another child in this way.  It was expecially hard for me to discipline her meanwhile feeling pressure from the other mother to punish my kid for leaving her kid sobbing, with bite marks and bruises.  

Her biting phase went on for a long time, and I tried everything from gentle explanations, lectures, singsong phrases, time outs, to finally harsher discipline like spanking and even biting her back.  It was through my struggles with her biting situation that I resolved to get ahold of myself and discipline my children "gently" as y'all say here, and stop spankings altogether.  They simply were not effective, and I felt like I was an awful person for beating up on a two year old.  I was a young mom (19 when she was born), and it took a while for me to figure out that conventional discipline, what others wanted me to do, and what I'd been raised with really did not work for my family.

 

In the end, nothing worked for us but waiting for her to grow out of it.  I settled on responding consistently with patient disapproval.  And fewer playdates with particular kids. And she did grow out of it- she's 17 now and as far as I know she hasn't bitten anyone in a long, long time ;)


chicken3.gif mama to two teens and two tots partners.gif madly in love with DP guitar.gif

Jennyanydots is offline  
#11 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 05:20 PM
 
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,677
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 121 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennyanydots View Post

In the end, nothing worked for us but waiting for her to grow out of it.  

This is very hard advice to give and to hear but it is so very important to remember as we navigate discipline for our children. Of course, it's easier to keep this at heart when it's something as serious as biting or hitting. Hugs to you mama! 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#12 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 05:36 PM
 
Jennyanydots's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2011
Posts: 1,374
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

This is very hard advice to give and to hear but it is so very important to remember as we navigate discipline for our children. Of course, it's easier to keep this at heart when it's something as serious as biting or hitting. Hugs to you mama! 

Thanks! Yes, and it is amazing how different the challenges of raising young kids look after you've BTDT.  When you're in it, it seems all encompassing and it's easy to feel overwhelmed.  I feel so blessed to be able to raise littles all over again with this perspective.  I still won't be perfect, but I think I'll be better :)


chicken3.gif mama to two teens and two tots partners.gif madly in love with DP guitar.gif

Jennyanydots is offline  
#13 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 05:36 PM
 
dalia's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Posts: 1,969
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
My son has not bitten very often *knock on wood* but I would just remove him from the victim and say "I can't let you hurt him/her", then make sure the other child is okay. If the problem continued then I would offer him something such as the "bitey frog" as a PP mentioned, as an alternative. Biting can be kind of compulsive and I think creating another outlet is a great idea.

Wife to one amazing husband superhero.gif, SAHM to DS bouncy.gif 10/09, DS babyboy.gif 10/19,  one furbaby dog2.gif, and lots of chicken3.gif!

 
joy.gif

dalia is offline  
#14 of 18 Old 06-11-2013, 05:42 PM
 
IdentityCrisisMama's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 10,677
Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 121 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jennyanydots View Post

Thanks! Yes, and it is amazing how different the challenges of raising young kids look after you've BTDT.  When you're in it, it seems all encompassing and it's easy to feel overwhelmed.  I feel so blessed to be able to raise littles all over again with this perspective.  I still won't be perfect, but I think I'll be better :)

I have a big gap too (10 years). The perspective that you talk about really rings true for us! 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
IdentityCrisisMama is offline  
#15 of 18 Old 09-17-2013, 10:08 PM
 
Sheepdoc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 93
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
I don't know how to start a new thread. My son is nine years old. Last week he got mad on the playground and bit another student then "to protect everyone" from his anger he ran away from school. Two teachers had to chase him down. Tonight he got angry at the end of soccer practice, screamed took a few swings at a teammate and then but him.
He bit some in preschool but hasn't in years. He seems developmentally normal. He has an extensive vocabulary but when he gets frustrated he screams, hits (now bites) and runs. When he's upset he will run into the street without looking! I have no idea how to help him. He hates to talk about things and is great at avoiding discussions.
The causative incident really seems to be the birth of his younger brother two years ago, who has medical issues, so there is a lot of stress in our house. We follow Faber and Maxlish to deal with sibling rivalry. We are trying Dr. Green's the explosive child but it's hard if the child doesn't want to participate. We try to give him more one on one time but frankly I'm already worn out from patenting/nursing/co-sleeping a child with medical issues.
I think home schooling may be our only answer because the school doesn't monitor what he eats, how much, provide enough physical activity, nor insist he take bathroom breaks. But I HATE the idea of me taking on another responsibility and honestly I'm not always great at monitoring him either. He's NINE years old. I expect him to use the bathroom without prompting/physically dragging him to the toilet and standing between him and the door while he screams at me!

Sheepdoc is offline  
#16 of 18 Old 09-18-2013, 08:44 PM
 
Polliwog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 3,999
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 22 Post(s)
Why do you feel the need to make a nine-year-old use the bathroom?
Polliwog is offline  
#17 of 18 Old 09-18-2013, 10:39 PM
 
One_Girl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 4,668
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 35 Post(s)
Screaming, biting people, and not following a bathroom routine independently are not normal nine year old behaviours nor is running away from school. I suggest bringing this up with a developmental pediatrician or talking to a family psychologist, not psychiatrist because they are quick with drugs that don't address the real issues. He may have something like Aspergers or ADHD that makes it hard for him to control his emotional outbursts.
One_Girl is offline  
#18 of 18 Old 09-27-2013, 01:28 PM
 
Sheepdoc's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 93
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
I make my nine year old use the bathroom because I have found when he is freaking out that sometimes he just needs to pee to come back to sanity.
We have an appointment with a counselor but I need ideas on how to manage him while waiting for our appointment.

Sheepdoc is offline  
Reply

Tags
Toddlers , Gentle Discipline

User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off