3-Year-old Biting Me, Not Daddy

Updated on April 11, 2013
R.Y. asks from Memphis, TN
9 answers

My son (who will actually turn 3 in july) has developed a bad habit of biting me or hitting me when i say no to something, but this is not behavior he does with my husband. i swear we both discipline him the same way - talking to him first about it, telling him it's not OK and then time-out if he continues - but i swear it's like he has it out for me. i know that sounds ridiculous but my husband made the situation worse by saying, "well, he never does that to me." my son went through his "biting stage" at daycare several months back and has more or less stopped it, and behaves well at school (mostly), but at home, he throws fits and sometimes gets physical. there have been times when i'm not even touching him, and he comes at me and tries to bite my leg (or the closest body part he can reach). what am i doing/not doing that could be contributing to this?? he has a really bad problem with food - if you don't have *exactly* what he wants to eat RIGHT THEN, he throws fits, and i'm sure every toddler hates being told "no," but my son seems to go to extremes. Advice, please.

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answers from San Francisco on

It's just a stage, and he probably feels the most comfortable with mommy, so he feels like he can bite her.

Just give him a consequence when he does it, like put him in his room. Say, "do not bite mommy" and put him in time out. If you want you can do Supernanny's routine where she makes them say what they did wrong and apologize, and then you kiss them and say I love you.

Nothing to worry about.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Detroit on

I would get a little more firm with the discipline - sounds like it's time to ratch it up a notch. The only thing that worked with my daughter when she was apt to flip out about something was time in her room alone, door shut, no attention from us. Time-outs in a corner or on a spot on the rug didn't help, because she could still get our attention by crying, screaming, etc. So it was up to her room, where she could stay by herself until she decided she had calmed down and could behave herself again.

If you see him starting to come after you to bite, I would say, very loudly and firmly, "NO! YOU DON'T BITE!". Let that be his warning and if he persists or continues, it's up to his room to spend some time alone until he can learn to calm down and control himself. Afterwards, reiterate to him that biting and throwing tantrums are not allowed and you will not put up with it - and he will get put in his room every time it happens.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Yep. Firm, short No! Don't be ambivalent. He's not a toddler. He is a preschooler who should know better.

3 yr olds have the most questions asked about their behavior. Everything up to this age has been easier to handle. From here to 5, you have to step up your game. Read up by searching here or find a parenting book that gives you some strategies. Love and Logic is a good one. Pick a strategy and be consistent and hang on for a bumpy ride. You just thought the twos were terrible, lol!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

It's very common for children to behave better with dad, because he has the stronger personality, lower voice, etc. It gets their attention and they can't help but respect it.

I suggest you adopt a firmer attitude, voice and look when dealing with your son. None of this "Oh, sweetie, please don't bite mommy. It hurts." No, no. Get right down to his level, look him directly in the eyes, MAKE him look at you and tell him very sternly that he is not to bite you EVER. And then, if you were playing with him, quit and walk away. If you were not, then just walk away. No further attention for a while.

It's kind of like training a puppy not to bite you. When the pup bites, you stop playing and walk away. No further attention. Soon, the pup learns that if/when it bites you, you will not play anymore and they stop the unwanted behavior.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My DD was 2ish the last time she bit me. She would only bite me and I have no idea why. She would mostly bite me on the leg, and it wasn't a daily thing. I would say, "No biting!" and immediately put him into time out or remove yourself from him. If he only does this to you, then it's specific.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Scranton on

I agree that you need to be sterner with your son. The role is different in my house. My daughter hits and kicks her dad. He is the one who will sit and talk to her and explain she should not do this. I on the other hand just up and punish her no questions asked. Try being firmer with him and make sure the punishment is the same for biting each time and make sure it is something that gets him under control. Hope this helps. H.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If your husband is around when he's doing this to you, he should punish him. Let your son see that you are valuable to dad. When my daughter talks back to my husband, I tell her it's not an acceptable way to talk to him and she has to apologize. I've also asked him to talk to her when she's not listening to me. Now, I don't have to ask him, he just backs me up if she isn't responding to my directions.

Hurting someone should have an immediate consequence, fits ignored as much as possible. Put him straight into time-out, and explain it to him later or just say "You bit me, you're in time-out".

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Poor mama! That's rough. I think you should start working on boundaries with him with food since that seems to be the most volatile.Have your husband do it tonight and see what happens! It's hard, but you have to establish that you are in charge and that these are your limits. When my toddler is being really awful and pitching fits I steel myself, turn physically away from her and sing a little song in my head as a distraction. Then I go back to whatever we were doing and continue to not let her have her way. This doesn't work in public, but when I'm at home we do it. I'm stubborn though, so it's more natural to me to set boundaries. There are some great books out there on parenting willful children that would work well for your situation. That you're taking the time to change this behavior now will ensure that you raise a great kid with a strong personality - a great thing for an adult! You're a good mama, good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

My child went through a brief stage at this age.
When he does it, firmly tell him "no biting" then put him in a 3 mins time
out. Set the timer.
Then go to him & ask him if he knows why he was in a timeout. Tell him
he cannot bite anyone.
For the next few weeks, watch out when you hold him, cuddle him, hug him etc.
This stage will soon pass but he still has to be told he can't do it.

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