K.G. asks from Oakland, CA on April 02, 2008
Biting - Oakland,CA
My son is 20 months and he is biting and pushing at the park. He is also biting us when we tell him no to something he wants. He is a very sweet sociable child so this comes as a shock to us. We are currently looking him in the eye and telling him no biting - it hurts so and so ... and if he continues we sit him down for a timeout. But I want to know how to prevent him from using biting as a tactic. Please advise.
C.B. answers from San Francisco on April 03, 2008
I know this sounds really bad, but I had a cousin who used to bite my sister constantly leaving teeth marks in her. My aunt tried everything, but it didn't help. My granddaughter also had a biting problem. She too would bite her mother when she was not allowed to do something she wanted to do. Both solved the problem by biting the child back. Like I said, I know it sounds bad, but nothing else worked. Once those children discovered that being bit hurt and they understood that they would get as they gave, both stopped biting.
S.B. answers from San Francisco on April 03, 2008
K., I had a biter too. My son would bite when he became frustrated, or over stimulated, and couldn't handle something that was going on. We tried every piece of advice under the sun and nothing worked. Eventually his biting was so serious he was causing brusing or breaking the skin of his victims, usually his little sister. Out of desperation I came up with a rule that he could not do whatever activity he was doing when he bit his sister until the mark he made on her went away. This meant if he wanted to color he had to look at the bite site every day until the bruise was gone. There were very few bites after the new rule because seeing the long term results of his actions got through to him in a way nothing else did.
K.V. answers from San Francisco on April 03, 2008
Biting is pretty common at this age. Generally, it's out of frustration over not being able to articulate wants, needs or feelings. Keep up w/what you're doing....telling him not to bite, show him that the other person is sad & hurt & then get him involved in another activity. Make sure he understands he hurt someone but try not to make too huge of a deal out of it or he could then start liking the attention & commotion it causes & start biting more. Maybe help him find the words to express his feelings or validate his feelings: "I know you wanted that toy but it's not your's," or something along those lines. I'm not a fan of biting the kids back or a small slap on the hand as I find it a bit hyprocritical: you don't want them to bite yet you bite them to show them it's wrong. I think it just confuses kids. Once he can talk more, the biting will probably subside. Just be consistent in whatever approach you take. Good luck!
M.B. answers from San Francisco on April 02, 2008
Give him another outlet for his frustration. Biting is so common at that age because they know so many words in their head, but just can't get them out when they need them. I agree with the advice above that teaching him words will help. Work with him (before he gets angry) and teach him words like "No" or "I don't like that" or whatever is applicable.
Another thing to do is to give him a stuffed animal or something that he can carry around. You can teach him that when he is feeling angry, it is ok to bite the animal, but never OK to bite a person.
Keep working with him....it will pass!
C.H. answers from San Francisco on April 02, 2008
My daughter is 2 1/2 and does the same thing at school. Her teachers tell me it is normal for kids their age to do this and so we are working on teacher her to use feeling words when she is experiencing frustration, anger, sadness, excited and happy. We role model for her (which is extremely corny at times). Hope this is helpful!
K.K. answers from San Francisco on April 03, 2008
Oh boy is that normal. I took the advice of my wise elders and bit my daughter back when she started biting (of course this was after trying everything else we could think of, including talking, loving, time-outs). After biting her back (she was around 2 as I recall) and explaining why it's not nice to bite because after all it does not feel good (which she got to experience),...well, needless to say she got it immediately and we really never had a problem again with biting. I am not recommending this approach, however it worked for us beautifully.
You could also ask your pediatrician what she or he thinks and perhaps your parents and grandparents enjoyed the same challenge. Good luck and don't worry, he'll quickly grow out of it or end up getting bit back and learn from that!
God bless you!
A.S. answers from San Francisco on April 03, 2008
My daughter did this also when she was about 20 months. We figured out she only did this when she was frustrated or angry about something. The only thing that helped throughout this period was giving her a small teething ring. I told her that when she was angry to bite the teething ring. This gave everyone (us and her daycare provider) the heads up she was angry. Though it did not totally stop the biting, it did helped her until she could control the urge to bite. She is 2 1/2 now and doesn't have any more biting episodes. Hope this helps a little.