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My son attends daycare while my husband and I are in class, and the daycare is a very nice daycare, of the best in our area...BUT somehow our son learned from some of the other kids that it's OK OK to bite or whack when angry.

I must say that my husband and I are NOT OK w/ this behavior, overall for being 2 he is VERY well behaved, I almost never have problems with tantrums or anything where he tries to test his power and control...because he knows we dont put up with that and he wont win. hehehehe.

But, now...when angry, instead of just running around, pulling a few things offf of tables and throwing them or screaming...he now, runs up to his father or I and nips us...yes NIPS at our legs...and quite hard at that. Or he comes up and whacks us repeatedly.

Sofar when he whacks us we grab his hand and get down to his level and tell him in a very firm voice (not angry or funny) saying that hurts mommy or that hurts baba and that he cant do that. We then hug him and tell him it's OK. This has worked for other behavior and is starting to work...but he is still whacking when angry. This is a new thing.
When he bites we do the same thing. Again it's sort of working...but not as quickly as I'd hoped.

I know he learned this at Daycare....
So any suggestions how to nip this in the bud further? I realize he's still young and so anger and other emotions can be overwhelming for such a young child...but I don't want him to get older thinking it's OK to hit or harm others when angry. It also peeves me that it's other kids teaching him this which leads me to wonder what other parents are teaching their kids...

Otherwise he's the sweetest, best behaved toddler I've seen out there...
 

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First of all, this is a pretty normal reaction for a toddler, even if he didn't start doing it until "someone" taught him.

Keep up what you're doing. My youngest bit until he started a new daycare, where he was bitten. He never did it again. I'm absolutely not saying you should bite him (I think that's a horrible practice), but I am saying its a stage, it will pass.
 

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How do you know he learned it at daycare?

I ask because dd out of the blue started biting when she got angry one day and has ever since (she's nearly 3). What we do is "honor the impulse," and that works well. For instance, she gets mad and wants to bite. I see this and back away saying that "biting hurts mommy" and then I offer her something else to bite--usually the bottom of my shirt. After she bites my shirt we then hug and nurse. Kids have trouble controlling and understanding the strong feelings welling up inside of them. It's okay to bite, but not people.

Somebody posted one time on MDC about an "angry box" that I thought was a good idea. It was a box filled with rolled up socks to throw, pillows to punch, things to bite, and a jar filled with something to shake when angry. Since you have a biter and a whacker, maybe something along those lines would help him channel his emotions. I think the overall message of "It's okay to feel this way but it's not okay to hurt people" is important to keep reinforcing.

And I just wanted to point out that just because another child bites does not mean that the parents are somehow abusive or mean or whatever. Believe me, I could win medals in AP, Gentle Discipline, and Patience in general and my dd still bites. And she's the sweetest thing the rest of the time. Nobody believe me that she's a biter.

Your son is only 2. He's got a long way to go before he can fully comprehend how his actions affect others let alone manage his emotions. I wouldn't worry right now about him not getting the message later on. Just lay the foundations of respect (which you are already doing), validate his emotions but find an outlet for that angry energy, and then just be consistent. I'm sure he'll be fine as he gets older.
 

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This is absolutely normal behavior for toddlers. It has nothing whatsover to do with quality of parenting.

My 2.5-year-old dd has been biting periodically for almost a year. Every couple of months she would bite another child in the church nursery. We were at our wits and as far as what to do about it. Because she did it so sparingly, just when we thought she was past it, she'd do it again. She is otherwise a very loving and gentle little girl, and we parent gently. People were pressuring us to bite her back, which simply is not an option in my book.

I finally read a wonderful book called "No Biting" by Gretchen Kinnell. It is a book written for daycare providers. This books lists a myriad of reasons why toddlers bite. There are developmental reasons, expressive reasons, and environmental reasons (and the book lists 8-10 reasons under each category). I think many of these reasons could be applied to hitting too. After reading it and pondering on dd's specific situation, I was able to pinpoint several strong triggers for her behavior.

I highly recommend this book for parents dealing with long-term biting problems. It is very AP-friendly and focuses on teaching rather than punishment. It is very, very thorough--it really opened my eyes to the dynamics behind her behavior.

Anyway, back to your situation specifically... The first step is to figure out why your child is hitting and biting. Is he trying to express something but doesn't have the words? Does it typically happen in a particular kind of situation? Is there some trigger than you can identify? Is he thinking it's funny, or does he do it when it's mad? Is he trying to get some control in a situation where he has no control?

I think giving him a hug and telling him it's OK might be confusing. I would focus more on showing him what to do instead of biting. If he's biting or hitting to explore the sensation/experience, then substitute something else that is appropriate to bite or hit. If he's mad, coach him in how to use words to express his frustration. With my dd, I found that she was biting in situations where she felt she didn't have control, like another child taking a toy. So we've been working on helping her learn to say, "Help, teacher!" and be able to call an adult over to intervene. I was really proud of her recently when she was in a situation where she and another child were arguing over a toy and she turned to me from across the yard and yelled, "Help, Mommy!" We also found that we had given her too much attention for biting, so we've tried to keep things low-key and not make a big deal about it. Deal with the situation and move on to something else as quickly as possible.

There are two great children's books, "Hands are not for Hitting" and "Teeth are not for Biting" that have also helped dd. We learn in the books that hands are for: hugging, helping, etc. and teeth are for smiling (and then she loves to give a huge grin and say "cheese!". We remind about these things often. We read the books often (though not right after a biting or hitting situation because we don't want to give undue attention to it).

I think what you are describing with your son sounds very, very normal. Toddlers just do stuff like this. There are great strategies to help, but realize that alot of it just has to do with going through phases. Sometimes they just have to grow out of things. You just keep gently and consistently teaching/modeling the correct way, but it takes them awhile to get it. Their learning is a combination of effective parenting and their own developmental growth. Sometimes we think if we do x, y, and z our kids will be perfect, but the reality is that all kids do things. It's just part of experimenting with being a human being.
 

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One more thing-- this book suggested giving biting toddlers many more sensory experiences of all kinds. Obviously you want to give them oral experiences--let them eat crunchy foods and foods with different textures. But it was suggested to up the amount of sensory experiences in general that they are having. So with dd, we've been doing lots of playdough, painting, playing with dried beans. etc. Some toddlers bite because they are seeking the sensory stimulation, so load them up with it in as many other appropriate ways as you can.
 

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I am very excited about trying some of these suggestions with my son. He, too, has been biting and hitting recently out of anger.

For the OP: I think it might just be a phase, not necessarily something the kids pick up somewhere. My son has never been in daycare, we don't spank, and he has never been exposed to other kids who do hit of bite. Somehow he still managed to start doing both a couple months ago. *shrug* Don't let it make you feel down about the daycare. Hope everything works out.
 
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