Biting, Hitting and Pinching

Updated on July 13, 2010
I.M. asks from Las Vegas, NV
7 answers

I have a 2 year old and she is really short tempered and when she doesn't get her way she bites, hits or pinches. At times she does it for no reason. It doesn't matter the age or sex.
Moms, please help with ideas or suggestion on what you've done to fix the problem.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Hi –
There are 4 reasons why a behavior occurs:
1) attention seeking
2) avoiding/escaping
3) access to a tangible object
4) to fulfill a sensory need

That being said in order to eliminate an unwanted behavior there are several things you need to keep in mind. First, you MUST replace that behavior with another more appropriate behavior (otherwise you may get a worse behavior). Next think about the ABC’S
A (antecedent) – condition that occurs before the behavior which trigger the behavior (? Does the other child have a toy your child wants? Are they grabbing at a toy your child has? Are they bothering him in some way? Is he bored?

B (Behaviors) – observable actions that immediately follow antecedent (in this case “Biting”)

C (Consequence) – what happens after the behavior occurs as a result of ( or in response to) the behavior (natural consequences, staff/peer responses) *make sure the consequence matches the behavior – when he bites what happens? Is the other child removed (if he was bothered by the other child this would be a reward – does he get attention (negative attention can be just as good as positive attention)

S (setting events) – events that occur at a different point in time that may influence or set the stage for the likelihood of a behavior occurring or having an effect on how the person responds to the antecedent (sleep? Is he hungry? Sick? Headaches? constipated?, etc)

Questions to think about:
1) how is her communication?
2) When the behavior occurs – what is occurring right before?
3) What is your reaction (e.g. do you give in – ever – even 1x?)
4) when does this behavior NOT occur (e.g. does she not melt down in the AM? during group play? Arts and crafts? Etc. )

Then in order to get rid of a behavior you need to figure out how to replace it with a more appropriate response (e.g. is she is biting, hitting, screaming b/c she is mad – see if you can show her to say “I’m Mad!”. You can validate her feeling when she has her temper tantrum “I see you are mad, but you can’t have X” you can try redirecting: if she needs to get her shoes on to leave and she melts down you can say “do you want your tennis shoes or crocs?” (then repeat the choices in a matter of fact – non-emotional voice).

if she is bored - structure the day to provide choices that she can engage in to prevent her behavior.

Here are a couple of other thoughts.

* If there is anything she LOVES place that item in time out
* make a rule chart with words and pictures that say what she SHOULD do (e.g. "i will keep my hands to myself; I try to use my words; I will listen; I will use my mouth for words; I will keep my feet on the floor” – then place pictures that describe each “rule” these pictures can be gotten from google images or clip art) (*** I have had EXCELLENT success with this with a 25 month old)

Good luck!!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Hi I.,

When toddlers bit, hit or pinch, it's often because they do not know how to communicate and they are reverting to something they know will work.

When the parents I coach ask me questions about this issues, I suggest they try to anticipate the child's needs. Also teach your child what they should do. Teach her the words she is missing.

Imagine you're trying to communicate your needs to someone who cannot understand you. You would be angry too. This is what your child is feeling.

This is the best way to ease the temper & reduce the "bad" behavior.

Good Luck

R. Magby

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

you can take AJ C's advice or just start applying some firm discipline. There's not just 4 reasons for bad behavior, some kids will do things because they can, and it has nothing to do with seeking attention. I have been a mother for over 25 years, this post from AJ C has some good points, nothing is more effective than disciplining with love. J.


answers from Los Angeles on

My daughter is scrappy like that too. She didn't learn it from day care, I'm a SAHM, its just instinctual in some. You can't let it go because it is a showing of disrespect for you. My daughter gets time-outs, head flicks, and on a few occasions a spanking. I see that she thinks twice before she does some of these behaviors, but still, we work on this daily. Some kids are just spunkier on ornerier than others. You have one of those. But on a side note, sometimes she does it the worst before a nap or meal time and while its not tolerated I try to give her extra love and encouragement when I know she's just reached her limit. We talk about how she's feeling grumpy and what we need to do to make her feel better (like get to sleep, or get some food down). It can help a little when you are able to put words to their feelings and they don't have to act it out.



answers from San Diego on

When my children stated biting, I bit them back to show them how much it hurt. That seemed to stop them.



answers from Hickory on

right now its hard too say anything b/c when my son was that age he did it too.everybody told me its a stage well my son is still doing this and he's 8 yrs. now- i finally took him too a therepist too help these tempers he has and it is helping him some.- good luck with this promblem. from one mom to another



answers from Los Angeles on

My son is starting to bite and throw right now too. How verbal is your daughter? If she has a good vocabulary, start teaching her to express herself with words rather than actions. With my son (who is very verbal), whenever he bites I sit him down and say "biting hurts. you cannot bite people. you need to tell us why you're mad." and so on.

If she doesn't talk as much, you need to give her the words. Say I know you're mad because xx, but you cannot hit/bit/throw. if she's throwing a toy, take that particular toy away (give the toy a time out, rather than giving her a time out).

hopefully it will sink in soon.
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