How to handle a biting toddler?


#1

My daughter has picked up a terrible biting habit. I understand that this is her way of expressing her frustration, but I want it to stop (of course). Can anyone else relate? Is this just something she will outgrow? How do you teach a 17 month old to handle her anger differently?

Thanks


#2

my DS does this when he is teething. i first set him down (it usually happens when we’re playing and he bites my shoulder or hand) and say no biting. it is not ok to bite because it hurts mommy. then i give him something he can bite on, a soft toy and say if you are going to bite, you can bite this.


#3

I’m gonna get wholloped for this I’m sure- but when my dd bit me, I showed her where she bit, pointed to the same spot on her, and gently bit her back.

I don’t know if kids that small can equate their bitting with “I’m actually hurting that person” and the grimace or shout that follows- they often think it’s funny.

After I followed through with biting her back (GENTLY)- teaching her the fact that her biting hurts people and that she is hurting people- she stopped for me.

If you don’t want to bite her back, just ignore her. She’s probably equated her biting with some reaction from you. If you can stand her to bite you- and ignore her- that wouldn’t provide her with a reaction.

I don’t know if she would actually understand a lesser punishment like no tv, or quiet time in a corner for biting. But you could try that too if you have an aversion to a more ‘physical’ life lesson.

Or you can see if she grows out of it. There are a lot of bad habits that kids just grow out of. But waiting and watching for her to grow out of it, doesn’t mean ignoring the problem. If it gets worse, or if she never seems to get better- or if she starts biting strangers- then you’d need to step in again.

I recommend the book “Dare to Discipline” by James Dobson. It has some great real world advice and he is obviously a Christian family man.

Good luck


#4

My son had/has a terrible habit of biting. He liked to ‘snack’ on his older cousin. His cousin is 2 years older. His Aunt babysits while I’m at work. Everyday when I picked him up she would tell me about it.
Now I don’t believe in disciplining after the fact. Especially when they are young (he is still only 2.5). I assume she disciplined him in some manner.
Now we have a baby (almost 1) and my DS will be 3 on December 31. He is now starting to bite the baby. She just wants to play. Typically he plays quite well with him, unless he is cranky.

If he’s biting he may need a nap or be hungry. It’s hard for them to communicate such feelings at a young age. He’s trying to tell you something.
I find if my son is well rested and has his meals/snacks he is okay. Doesn’t tend to bite.

Now on the occasions he did bite he would sit in time-out. Typical time-outs were 1minute per year of life. Biting time-outs get extra time, pending on how frustrated I was.
I have spanked him recently. Which I hate to do because I got beat as a kid, and don’t want my anger to control my discipline. So I only spank when he did something very bad. Like biting the baby so hard it bruised. He got 2 swats and sat in the time-out chair.


#5

Shiann…you won’t get whalloped…that is fairly common…my mom did that.

But first try this…you can almost always tell when a baby is going to hit or bite (hand is reared up…mouth is wide open) And if you can catch this…grab the hand, or shoulders and forcefully say “you are not allowed to bite/hit”…Frustration is what leads up to this behavior, so really watch when your baby is around other kids.

Babies at this age cannot be taught to share…their brains aren’t that developed yet…so when they get in a play group it is better for them to play side by side… when you see a tug of war going on this is most likely when the baby will take out her weapon (teeth) run over there on the spot and intervene…

All babies that I have been around bite! My mother used the bite back technique on my oldest baby…I used the catch-em-before-they-get-there technique on my other babies, and it worked. I liked it better because I taught her that no one can bite…not even mommy


#6

I remember a day-care “teacher” (and mother of five) telling me (when I was a first-time mother) that children who bite usually have been bitten. Children learn to bite after they have been bitten or have seen other children bite. I was horrified when my oldest child was bitten and then even more horrified when she bit other children. (I felt like such a failure as a mother! My mom was shocked too because none of her children ever bit anyone.) DD bit me occasionally and I complained to my husband who seemed to think I was over-reacting–UNTIL she bit him!:bigyikes: We dealt with it forcefully (with words) whenever it happened. (My technique was to hold my kid firmly at the upper arms so they could not squirm and put my face close to theirs and use that tone of voice that meant “this is serious and you need to listen”.) We never bit back.

Kids bite when they are frustrated or tired. Not to excuse it, but until they have strong verbal skills, they can’t express their feelings and may resort to biting.


#7

With Two fingers lightly “tap” their lips, (not a slap, please) then say “That is not nice, biting hurts” or something along that line. (with that mommy/daddy not pleased with you look in your eyes) Any long explaination to a toddler will just get tuned out. It might take 3 or 4 attempts till they understand. My oldest son thought my shoulder was a teething ring, Ouch:rolleyes:


#8

[quote=Lillith]Shiann…you won’t get whalloped…that is fairly common…my mom did that.
[/quote]

:slight_smile:

But first try this…you can almost always tell when a baby is going to hit or bite (hand is reared up…mouth is wide open) And if you can catch this…grab the hand, or shoulders and forcefully say “you are not allowed to bite/hit”…Frustration is what leads up to this behavior, so really watch when your baby is around other kids.

Babies at this age cannot be taught to share…their brains aren’t that developed yet…so when they get in a play group it is better for them to play side by side… when you see a tug of war going on this is most likely when the baby will take out her weapon (teeth) run over there on the spot and intervene…

All babies that I have been around bite! My mother used the bite back technique on my oldest baby…I used the catch-em-before-they-get-there technique on my other babies, and it worked. I liked it better because I taught her that no one can bite…not even mommy

This is great advice. It keeps us on top of our kids’ actions (like parents should be). :thumbsup: I would probably have tried that first too.

As an aside, my dd began her biting without any introduction to biting from other kids. I am a single parent- and dd has never been in a daycare situation (mom watched her in an all adult home). So our case was an exception to the “kids bite because they were bit” opinion. I don’t discount the truth that opinion might contain, but just because a child bites, doesn’t necessarilly mean they were bit by someone else.

JMHO. :slight_smile:


#9

I remember a day-care “teacher” (and mother of five) telling me (when I was a first-time mother) that children who bite usually have been bitten. Children learn to bite after they have been bitten or have seen other children bite.

my DS has never been bitten and he does, but then again he only does it when teething


#10

My youngest was a biter, who had never been bitten.
He bit (hard) a little girl I was watching and I made the child bite him back - hard. Same when he bit his sister.
He stopped right quick after those bites back and never bit anyone again.


#11

Thanks for the great advice! My daughter is in daycare 3 1/2 days a week & Im certain she picked it up there. She has be bit while attending & when I found out I was not happy. Now that I know she is one of the biters, I feel awful!

Thanks again everyone, youve given me some great discipline ideas.


#12

When my youngest was 6 months, we were visiting some friends and my older dd, who was 2 at the time, just bit her little sister right in front of everyone. I think she was upset her younger sister was getting a lot of attention. But, we put her in time out right there in front of everyone. She was humiliated and never bit again.

I don’t know if this works for all children…my older daughter is an “eager-to-pleaser” and never likes to get in trouble…especially infront of people not in the family, so that little time out in front of the whole room was a grossly humiliating experience for her, but she NEVER has attempted to bite again.


#13

I have had this problem with a couple of my kids, although they weren’t biting out of anger or frustration, more like an exploratory kind of thing. I think the most important thing when dealing with any negative behavior is to not give a dramatic and emotional response. Be calm and firm. Say “No” very firmly. I know that can be kind of hard when they really did hurt you, but it is a good chance to practice your acting skills. Make sure you have their undivided attention, and always let them know the reason we don’t bite (or hit or kick, etc.) is because that hurts mom (or dad or brother or sister). I also always make sure I never tell my kids that they are bad. I always approach it in a way that emphasizes that the behavior is bad.


#14

i’m a speech-language pathologist and deal with ‘biters’ frequently. first, try to figure out why she’s biting. if it is teething or she just needs to chew (think about adults who always chew pen caps, bite there nails, constant gum chewers, etc), then get her some good things to bite on (i.e. teethers, crunchy or chewy snacks, etc). if she’s just mad, then you need an effective, unpleasant, natural consequence for the biting (or other inappropriate behavior). for example, when something hurts, people frequently yell out in a louder than normal voice. they also remove themselves from the painful situation. so, adapt this to a child: say ‘no’ loudly and firmly, which will probably startle her, put her down, and walk away. after a short time (maybe a minute or so…an eternity to a little kiddo!) give her the words she was lacking before. (i.e. tell mommy ‘juice’) then she will learn that the biting thing got her nowhere and using her words got her what she wanted. be consistent and she should learn quickly.


#15

I was a biter, and it was always my dad that I bit. Dad and Mom discussed the problem, and they decided that the next time I bit my father, he would give me a good hard pinch on my zadnitsa. Sure enough, I wandered into the LR and chowed down on him, and he followed through with the pinch. Mom was in another room, but she heard me holler “OUCH!”, and she knew what had happened. Presently I wandered into the room where she was, and she asked me what had happened. I said, “I bit Daddy.” Not “Daddy pinched me.” “I bit Daddy.”

That was one of the stories about me that they liked to tell and re-tell, right up until the time that they died.

DaveBj


#16

I agree that biting them back does help sometimes. But something else that might work (I don’t have a biter, but I had a student in my 2 yr. old class at a daycare once who was a MAJOR biter) is to make her bite herself. It sounds weird, but take 2 fingers, put them in her mouth, and make her bite down - just hard enough for her to realize what she has done.

Good luck! And remember - as she gets more and more verbal, she will outgrow this.


#17

is to make her bite herself. It sounds weird, but take 2 fingers, put them in her mouth, and make her bite down - just hard enough for her to realize what she has done.

i would never bite my child but i have put his hand in his own mouth to help him realize that it hurts


#18

Here is what I did.

As soon as the child bit I would tell them “Don’t bite! Biting hurts!” Then I would gently take their finger, or even their lip and touch them to their teeth so they coud see that their teeth are sharp. (not hurting them, of course) Or I would tell them to feel their own teeth with their fingers and feel how sharp and hurty they are if you bite down a little bit. This worked on all three of my children. My third daughter started biting *later, *after her initial experimental stage which the method I mentioned worked for, when she was 2.5 because she *knew *it hurt! After a few tries of time out and other punishments we finally had to spank her on two separate occasions, (A couple of light little swats on the butt) because we felt we needed to take action because she caused both our older children to bleed. She hasnt’ bit since. I really found the first method most effective, and if I didnt’t need to nip it in the bud so quickly, to protect the other two children, I would have done the first method a little longer with the youngest, rather than 3 tries.

My best friend’s baby who was born three days after my first daughter was a serious biter at an early age. (starting at about 8 mos. and it persisted until he was almost two) She would spank him from the beginning and it didn’t work. He was too young to relate the spanking to the biting. For a younger child I have found that showing them how sharp their teeth are is most effective.

Biting can actually be dangerous and quite disturbing to the other children being bit. A child who is a “biter” needs to be watched very closely so that the parent can protect other children. I have a friend whose son needed stitches on his cheek from a bite at day care!


#19

I wrote before I read all other posts, so am glad to see other parents have used the method I mentioned about letting the child feel how sharp their own teeth are, just hard enough to be uncomfortable, not hurt them.

Also, make sure that nobody in the child’s life “playbites” as a tickle game or anything. My friend whom I mentioned before would often, literally, bit her son’s toes with her teeth (lightly, like she was “eating” his toes) I think this can be very confusing to young children. I am sure her son thought he was “play biting’”

I think that biting a child back sends the wrong message. They will think it’s ok to bite another child back or to bite if they think it is justified. A child needs to know that it is never ok to bite, no matter who you are or the reason. They need to know that thier own teeth can cause harm. PLease don’t take this as criticism to any parent who has done this. I know you had to do what you thought was best for your child, and all children are different.


#20

I agree that most of the time biting stems from frustration. My twin boys (2.5 years), however, have found biting to be a game between them at times. Here’s what I have done and it has worked like a champ: I dip a cotton swab in vinegar and quickly swab the inside of the offender’s mouth while telling him, “We don’t bite. Biting hurts.” Lately, when it looks like they are starting up, I’ll simply ask, “Do you need some vinegar?” and they miraculously find something else to do! I know it might sound mean or cruel, but it is just unpleasant enough to discourage without hurting them. This has also solved our temporary ‘spitting’ problem. That was tons of fun…

I’d also like to comment on the “not-able-to-share at this age” comment. You are right on. What we do in our home is “Take Turns.” We set the timer for 2 minutes and have them trade or have the child with the ‘object of desire’ hand it over when they hear the **ding **. I try not to say the word ‘share’ to the boys when they are fighting over a toy, or my lap, or (fill in the blank). We have always told them, “It is Bobby’s turn, and when you hear the timer ding, it will be your turn.” They have become quite respectful of the timer (and of each other). Even when we don’t have a timer close at hand, I yell, “Ding!” and they willingly trade! :stuck_out_tongue:

We do use the word share when we are sharing ice cream or a drink, or something of that sort.

I hope these suggestions help.

MW


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