Mothering Forum banner
1 - 14 of 14 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know she won't be biting her college roommate (or will she?!), so it has to stop sometime, right? My dd has been home for 4 1/2 months and bites her brother around once a day. I thought some of you might be knowledgable about post-adoption behavioral issues such as this. Dd was in foster care, so it isn't an orphanage-related survival skill, though I know there was at least one other child in her foster family and she did visit the orphanage once a month.

Her verbal skills are pretty good (much better than I would expect). She knows how to say "no" or "my turn" or "stop". She screams all the time, so I know she can voice her feelings!

I've tried the super calm & loving thing, the firm and time-out thing, the angry thing (not purposefully, but I have been angry sometimes). I am able to head it off sometimes when I see it coming, but sometimes there is no warning. My ds does not hurt her back, though he doesn't always want to share his toys, etc. For some reason I can handle her hitting/pinching, but the biting puts me right over the edge. How long will this go on? Will I make it that far?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,219 Posts
Don't worry, she'll stop. Biting in toddlers is pretty common, especially if they're frustrated. My guess is, if she's internationally adopted, that although her language is good, it would be better if she hadn't had a break in continuity and the substitution of a new language -- so even though she has the words to say what you feel like she needs to say, she's still taking a little more time to formulate what she wants to say, and probably has more that she wants to say then she's able to say.

As her language grows, and her ability to regulate her behavior grows she'll stop using her teeth to express herself. Unfortunately this probably won't happen overnight.

Some things that might help include supervising them closely, trying to have duplicates of the most valued toys, watching for patterns so you can intervene early, and giving her lots of sensory input. Of course you also want to make sure that the biting doesn't "work" for her -- e.g. if her brother runs to you crying she isn't left with the toy she wanted. You may want to think about some mild consequences such as removing her from the play while you tend to her brother.

The biggest thing that will help, however, is time. In a few years she'll be a preschooler and this behavior will be forgotten.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,822 Posts
I have an almost three year old who is not adopted but bites too. He bites his six year old brother all the time. He too has good language skills, although he does have a short fuse sometimes and I think he forgets to use his words or ask for help. His anger just gets the best of him.

I've worked with lots of kids over the years and more the a handful of biters. Eventually they have all grown out of it and taken on another skill to deal with their problems.

I don't know if it makes you feel better but my little brother was a long term biter, he grew out of it eventually and is now one of the kindest men I know. And a great brother!
Have heart, I know it's hard but it will pass.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,581 Posts
I agree with pp that biting is a very very common toddler behavior based on frustration and lack of adequate language skills. Have you looked on the web for all the general advice on biting in toddlers. There is much to be had. Let us know if you need help finding some good stuff to read.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
324 Posts
I was a biter as a toddler and have managed to go many many years without biting someone. Well, my husband just noted that I have bitten him before but it was a love bite. Yes, that's what we'll call it.

No suggestions, but hugs to you. My mom was just recalling the other day how tough that stage was.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thanks for the support! I have read everything I can find! Mostly I've heard that it is a lack of ability to communicate/frustration thing. I think it is also an impulse-control thing. Sometimes I can see her stop herself, but not always.

The most reliable advice (not the "bite them back!" people
: ) was to comfort the bitee, giving him all the attention. I have done that in the past, but I'm hesistant to do that too much. Sometimes she bites because she is jealous that ds is on my lap or has my attention somehow. If I then give him all my attention and exclude her, it is almost like saying "You are right, I do like him better and I am on his side". But then, I do sometimes put her in her room for a couple minutes after she bites - more so I can calm down and resist getting angry.

The last few days have been a bit better. I read somewhere about this book for "difficult" children (I'm not saying dd is difficult, I've just been reading everything I can find!) advised taking the "catch them being good" thing a bit further. So when dd is gentle, I give her a BIG positive reaction. So far it seems to be helping. I think she likes *drama* so good drama is better than bad drama, right?

I hope she doesn't keep this up until age 3. I think I would go nuts by then. Or we would become a family of anti-social hermits for fear of her biting other kids. And I'm not sure how long I can count on my ds to not retaliate!
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
7,581 Posts
Most toddlers that bite keep it up for a relatively short period of time (in the big picture...I know when it is happening it seems like a really long time!!) Sounds good to trust your gut about responding to the 'bitee'. You know your children best.

I'm sure you are already trying to be proactive, as in anticipating situations where she might bite and being ready to help with the frustration in a different way, before she bites.

I think the book you are referring to is Transforming Your Difficult Child by Howard Glasser. There are many things I like about his approach. It could be worth investigating. There is also a website with a discussion board. I think it is difficultchild.com or org. I will look.

I hope it gets better soon.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
640 Posts
Ugh, my dd (also adopted, 2.5) pinches. It has finally gotten better, but yeah, it was a big thing for a while, and I think a lot of it was an attention thing so we tried to not react, but when she walks up behind you and grabs a tiny bit of skin it hurts like heck! Hard not to react. She does seem to do it compulsively, she'll be rubbing my arm and then start to squeeze and then will stop herself but I can feel the tension still in her arm...its weird.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
462 Posts
I don't think this is necessarily an adoption thing. One of Jack's playmates bit the other kids so much, we called her "E - the biter". What her mom did was, if E bit one of the other kids, she had to go over and hug them, give them the toy she had just taken (if any), and try to say "sorry." We've done the same thing for Jack, when he bites - which he did pretty consistently for a couple of months, and now it's rare. Basically, you teach them that other children have feelings too, and they are not just inanimate objects to do with as you wish.
Good luck!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
830 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I agree that it isn't necessarily related to adoption. But knowing that she was recently adopted changes how I might respond. If she had been with us since birth and totally secure, I would probably be more comfortable separating her or only comforting the bitee, etc. Since we are still building attachment, I feel I need to be more careful about how I address it.

Things have been going pretty well. We had a couple bites that weren't really bites (no teeth marks - I think she started to bite and stopped herself). She seems to really respond to the over-the-top positive reaction to her being gentle. I've also been teaching ds to give her a little more space. Hopefully it will keep improving!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,287 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by HipGal View Post
The most reliable advice (not the "bite them back!" people
: ) was to comfort the bitee, giving him all the attention. I have done that in the past, but I'm hesistant to do that too much. Sometimes she bites because she is jealous that ds is on my lap or has my attention somehow. If I then give him all my attention and exclude her, it is almost like saying "You are right, I do like him better and I am on his side". But then, I do sometimes put her in her room for a couple minutes after she bites - more so I can calm down and resist getting angry.
While biting alone is not adoption specific, this part sounds like it is. Our dd (three and home for 16 months) is very aggressive when we give ds attention. For a long time, we were very resistant to tough love, you are being bad so we can't pay attention to you type approaches. It got so bad the dd was getting 90% of our attention and still being agressive when ds got his 10%. Now we are being super strict and naming the behavior is ways that I never thought we would, things are finally getting better.

"You are right, I do like him better and I am on his side". This quote really struck me because we say similar things to this out loud, to dd. I am so embarrassed to admit it, but it is helping. On one had I feel dirty and gross. On the other hand, it is naming behavior and it is working. We say things like "I am reading this book to ds because he is being a good listener and doesn't hit. Please find a toy to play with or you can wait in your room." Or "Ds is allowed to pet the dog because he doesn't hurt the dog. You hurt the dog today." I NEVER thought that I would speak that way to a child, but it is the only thing that has helped at all.

Of course, we desperately try to "catch" her being good and reward her over the top for that.

ETA
After I wrote this I realized it might sound like I was saying the OP should try this. I definitely don't think using this is a good idea, especially with a toddler. My point was just to show that adoptive parents have to be willing to give up preconceived ideas about how to parent and do what helps their child and family.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,374 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by pumpkingirl71 View Post
. My point was just to show that adoptive parents have to be willing to give up preconceived ideas about how to parent and do what helps their child and family.

Seriously!

I just want to thank your for that post. So true, and I'm so *tired* of trying to get my RL friends to understand why I am "meaner" to dd. I'm not being mean. I'm giving her the firm, clear parent that she needs. No, it's not the way I "planned" to parent, but if it helps her then it is the way I *should* parent.

Okay, back to the OP
:

It sounds like you are already on the right track -- finding the balance btwn normal toddler biting (all my kids, bio and adopted have gone through a biting phase) and the adoption/belonging/jealousy issues.

Biting is such a huge parent trigger. I had to really remind myself that from a child's point of view, biting is no different than hitting, pinching, pushing, grabbing etc. I tried not to make it a bigger deal, thereby teaching my kiddo how to really push my buttons.

But really, she will stop. Eventually.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
129 Posts
My son was a terrible biter and kept it up until he was 4. He's now nearly 8 and the biting is a distant memory, so don't despair. With ds, the "theory" that fit him best turned out to be that it was his way of showing affection. I know it sounds crazy, but to him a bite communicated love in a way nothing else could. He has some sensory issues and those may have contributed as well; he is a very physical child who always had to make actual contact with those around him.

What seemed to help was saying something to him that I got from a book by Eda LeShan. She said to tell the child something like "you are little and you won't keep biting forever. I will help you learn to stop." Then try all the techniques that have been mentioned here. It was hard to believe but these words really resonated with my son, and the biting diminished very soon after. Of course, it could have been the timing, but who knows?

Reminding yourself "this too shall pass" is small comfort while you are in the middle of this difficult issue, but I promise you that it will.
 
1 - 14 of 14 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top