Help with Toddler Who Bites and Hits

Updated on December 05, 2007
J.W. asks from Duluth, GA
6 answers

My neice's daughter (age 17 months) is having a HUGE problem with biting and hitting especially other children any suggestions?

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answers from Spartanburg on

Well, this could start a real debate. The last comment made talked about teaching a child empathy. I'm wondering how you teach a child empathy if he doesn't know what it feels like? I don't believe in "hitting" your kids over every little thing, but there are some things where foo-foo talk and positive reinforcement just won't do, and it depends largely on the child. My son reacts great in some areas if we use praise and positive reinforcement, but in other areas (like abusing the dog after many times telling him not to do it), that didn't work. What did work? One day when he was 3 or 4, I got fed up with nagging him about treating the dog nicer. Our dog is a big ol boxer mastiff mix, but will take whatever is dished out to him to the nnnnth degree. So I told my son that everything he did to the dog, I would do to him (of course, within reason and only to a certain extent). So from then on, if he walked by and hit the dog on the head, I would go by him and lightly tap him on the head. I wouldn't do it as a reaction or in anger, I would do it as nonchalantly as he did it to the dog. If he grabbed the dog by the ears and yanked hard on them, I would nonchalantly walk by and (lightly) yank his ears- just enough to be uncomfortable. Of course, he would be SOOOO offended that I did that to him, would look so hurt and would start crying. I would just shrug and say, what's wrong? You don't like that? Oh, then maybe Bosco doesn't like it either. How does it make you feel when I do that to you? He would empahtically shake his head and cry NOOO, it hurts, it makes me feel bad!!! It only took a couple of times doing that and if he caught himself about to do something (like yank the dog's tail for no reason), you could actually see him STOP and look at me, like, wait- I don't think I want mom to do that to me. Again, don't do it in anger or with an approach of revenge- this WILL show them bad behavior patterns. That's the main difference in disciplining our children and being a bad "hitting" example to them. If your child perceives that you're doing it in REVENGE, then you are teaching them to use violence to make people do what they want them to do. But if you start early and you stay in control of your own emotions, and simply do it as a black and white, cause and effect, action and consequence statement, and there has been a warning that you would do that beforehand, you are simply teaching the child that when you make bad choices, mommy comes in to show you that the consequences "hurt". Because you're the adult- the leader of the pack, the one with wisdom and expereince. You're not their peer, and they must know that. Later in life the consequences for disrespect and other bad choices are going to hurt a whole lot worse than a pop on the hand. My mom tells me that I was a biter, and one day she just cooly bit me back. I was offended and cried, but I never bit anyone ever again. We need to stop thinking that our children are on our level or above us, and start acting like the parents in teaching them about action and consequence. Their bosses aren't going to use "positive reinforcement" when they show up late to work- they're going to fire them. The cop isn't going to give them a thumbs up when they're going the speed limit to discourage them from speeding- they're going to nail them with a ticket when they get out of boundaries. What better way to teach a child that bad choices hurt everyone, than in the safety and security of their own home, by the parents who love them unconditionally?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Augusta on

I will NOT defend my way of parenting.Spanking NOT hitting is something I use when they are clearly being defiant.It doesnt take half of a mother to know why a child is misbehaving and before my children I help partly take care of many other children.So I am no new comer to a child behavior and as a mom who dedicates herself to staying AT HOME with her kid FULL TIME I know all the developmental stages and what is appropritate for them.For those that call spanking hitting clearly don't know what they are talking about so it's best you leave the subject alone.I have never knocked anyone else's parenting ways but mothers have to do what works for THEIR kids.And as far as my spanking, I POP them on the butt with clothes and diaper and never out of anger, I simply tap their behind to grab their attention. You dont like my way of punishment,fine.But I don't care or want to hear you correct me nor will it change anything.I will and have always used simple talking with both my kids and when resonaing doesnt work,spanking does.And was far as jess and angela's comments, I have reported them, I didnt ask for your advice, J. did.



answers from Atlanta on

My son was/is having a problem with this too. He's now 22 months but we really had problems for a while. My other two children did not bite or hit so I couldn't understand why he was doing it.
What it came down to for him is fustration and he didn't feel well. He bites and pinches when he has a cold or an ear infection. He use to bite out of just fustration but now that he is using sing language and some words he does that less.
We also, spent several days really watching him play with other kids and made sure we went overboard when he shared and played with others in a cute and loving way... this really helped! Sometimes the yelling and saying no only makes it worse for our son.... so that's why we tried the positive inforcement... it worked for us.
Best of Luck... and know that all kids do grow out of it.



answers from Macon on

My niece used to do this when she was little. It usually happened at daycare, but one day she did it to my Mom(Grandmother) and my Mom simply bit her back. She didn't bite her hard or anything like that, but it worked and she didn't bite anymore children either. She didn't hit the other children, so not sure about that.



answers from Miami on

Hey J.,

When I read your request, I started giggling because I have gone through that with my child, and he recently started a few weeks ago(month and a half). I'm not sure where he got it from, but we are working on it. When he does that, I usually put him in time out, in the corner. He hates the corner, with a passion. I usually put him there for 2 minutes, because he is only two. After two minutes, I go to him, and get to his eye level and tell him why he went in the corner, asks him if he understands, and to apologize to me. I don't scream at him, but I am firm. Then I give him a hug let him know I love him, but will not tolerate bad behavior. He has cut down drastically on hitting and biting. The last time I put him in the corner , he explained to me why I put him in the corner. He now realizes what is "nice", and "not nice" behavior. I'm not sayiing this will work for every child, but it has worked for mine.



answers from Athens on

I have never had this problem with my own child but I used to work at a preschool and we were given the advice that we should give the child food to bite and say "We bite food not people". It sort of worked. A parent also said she wiped vinegar across her childs lips after he bit. We were not allowed to used this technique but she swore by it. We also used a teething ring for a biter to bite when he got mad. He was 2 1/2 and could understand to take his anger out on the ring instead of his friend.

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