What to Do About Child Who Is Biting Self?

Updated on April 08, 2017
J.R. asks from Stockton, CA
5 answers

My 4yr old son started biting his fingers. The first time he asked for a bandaid because I gave his toy a bandaid when his little brother broke his toy. I said no because he didn't need one. Then later he comes up to me with an owie (he bit skin off his finger) and said he needed a bandaid. I asked him how it happened and he said he bit his finger. I asked why and he said he wanted a bandaid. The second time he bit another finger and told dad he needed an ice pack fir his owie. Dad asked him how he got hurt and he said he bit himself. I told him if he was hurting himself for those things then I wasn't going to give those requested items but I just thought how bizarre it was that he's biting himself for access to things. Idk I am mostly concerned because we are trying a new approach to disciplining our 2yr old who is hitting and biting my 4yr old so I was thinking, it kinda started around the same time. Idk. Anyone else have this issue?

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you for your responses and I ldefinitely think they were all spot on. I think I over thought too much without really looking at the big picture. I'm new to this so Idk how to show that your comments were useful but they were, I appreciate it!

More Answers



answers from Portland on

I was going to say the exact same thing as B - my kids each were given (at some point) their own box of bandaids to have fun with. One decorated my ottoman with her fairy ones.

I'm guessing from your previous post that your 2 year old was getting so much attention for biting and hitting, even if as you say, it was negative attention, that your 4 year old may want some for himself.

We had a little gal that would come over and have a gazillion owies. I said "You get one bandaid per visit" otherwise it was just ridiculous. Her mom made a huge fuss over every bump and scrape, and I didn't. I said here's the sink, and here's the bandaid. She soon lost interest. She just liked attention (what kid doesn't) so I'd just watch their show they'd put on, etc. instead of the attention over being hurt.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Based on this and your last post, it seems to me that you have a 2 year old getting tons of attention (negative, but still attention) for hitting and biting. The 4 year old is the usual target of the toddler, and now he's wanting a pay-off for getting hurt. Maybe you've stopped some of the toddler's actions, but now the 4 y.o. needs and wants some attention and credit for enduring it.

If you put a bandaid on a toy, then a bandaid is for psychological support and not real wounds. So give your 4 y.o. a bandaid for psychological support if he DOESN'T self-harm. No rewards for self-harm. You can set a daily limit of 3 bandaids if you want to discourage waste. If he wants Bandaid #4, he can move an old one (stick it on with tape if you have to).

They're only little for a short period of time. Give them what they need for reassurance.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I don't know.
You're willing to put a bandaid on a broken toy - which doesn't really 'need' one.
So why not just give him a bandaid when he wants one?
It seems a bandaid for nothing is not a huge price to pay so the kid has some attention without having to injure himself to get it.
We had all sorts of fun bandaids - and temporary tattoos too.
At 4 - we didn't worry so much about whether our son needed one or not.
It was no big deal just to put one on him - and he'd get over it soon and forget about it especially when they came off in the bath tub.
Now I don't think you need to go through boxes of them - but one every once in awhile should be ok.

Get him a toy doctor/first aid kit - our son had one - and he'd take my temp with it, gave me a shot, a bandaid and then say I was 'all better' - and it was all pretend - and great fun.
Get him one of these for his birthday or Christmas - he'll love it!
(There are many to choose from - find one that's age appropriate).


3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

I like the other people's answers. I also want to say...my son really had a need to chew on something when he was young. I don't know why. It was a a sensory processing disorder thing for him. He would chew holes in the top of his shirt daily. I ended up getting him a pencil topper he could chew on and a couple other things he could chew on. It did help. Google "kids with sensory issues who need to chew on something". You can order all kinds of chewables. My son had sensory issues big time that he grew out of slowly (for the most part). He still chews his fingernails at age 13.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Charleston on

I remember when my daughter would bite herself. Oh my god, I was freaking because in my last, I self injured. I was so afraid that she must be struggling internally. I would get so frustrated and even cried a few times. I told her she just couldn't do that bc of the risk of infection with open places on her skin. She quit, thankfully! Now she bites her nails and picks her cuticles!
I know it's not exactly the same but just know you're not alone. Also my daughter did this the last time when she was around age 7, so a bit older.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions