When Your Child Is the Bitee

Updated on November 19, 2010
A.H. asks from Rockford, IL
13 answers

Need advice- my 3 year old daughter is the victim of a biter. The biter is my best friend's son who is 2 1/2. He used to bite a lot when he was younger and it seemed to taper off for awhile and now the past two times we've gotten together with them he is biting again (2 or 3 times) almost always over toys. My friend is really good about instantly putting him in time out each time however I am at the point where I feel it's not enough and that I need to do more to protect my daughter. Any suggestions as to how to deal with this? I am thinking of telling her if he bites again they will have to leave until he gets the point.

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

More Answers



answers from Decatur on

I am a mother of a past bitter. I was mortified and tried my best. He was agressive and frustrated. He is now 22! Yes he grew out of it, yes I put him in time out, yes we were not invited to play groups. I say, let them play, but not with his or her favorite toys, maybe in a neutral place. When he bites, remove your daughter, and take the toy away form the bitter.
Remember, this is a phase. Help your friend! She is just as frustrated.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Bakersfield on

You just have to keep telling him "no biting" and monitor them more closely when y'all are hangin out. , I'd probably have my daughter sock him in the mouth if he did it again, but that's just me.
Yeah, I know that's harsh, but being bitten is a deal breaker. I bet he wont do it again if she wallops him a good one.... and your friend might try harder to break him of the dangerously, germy (for both involved) habit.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

Having him leave after he bites your daughter won't prevent her from having been bitten, so I'd probably put off having playdates with this kid til he's over the biting stage, hopefully it wont' last too long!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Portland on

My grandson was a biter at about age 2.5, for a few brief weeks that felt like eternity for his parents. We did a tremendous amount of research on the phenomenon. The single most effective strategy to correct it is reportedly to shadow the biter, especially while in situations where he's likely to bite. An alert adult needs to practically hover over the child, and hopefully anticipate the moment just before the bite comes, and swoop in and remove the biter (or the bitee, if closer). Firm words "NO biting! Do NOT bite! Be gentle!" and redirection help – separating the biter and giving him something else to do.

We also gave my grandson many lectures and role-played with puppets and toys lessons about biting, but that was hours after the events at daycare, so was possibly helpful, but not as effective as an immediate response. Fortunately, the daycare was aware of the need to shadow, and bites only happened perhaps three or four times altogether. Still, that was three or four bites too many for everyone concerned.

Harsh punishment, or even time-outs, don't reportedly do much for most biters, because it's an immediate impulse, usually an expression of possession of a toy or frustration toward a bossier, stronger, or more determined child. Those impulses are extremely hard for a 2.5yo child to contain. But a reaction from adults right when the impulse hits catches his notice. It will usually need to be repeated a few times.

If your friend is open to employing this method, you might agree to trade off shadowing duties.

This is not usually a case of the biter being guilty, and the bitee being totally innocent. If the biting is over toys, you might be able to make your daughter aware of whatever part she plays in the dynamic. Since she's significantly older, she may be able to either avoid those situations that have gotten her bitten by moving away when the little boy is getting frustrated, or not grabbing toys that the boy wants, or even sharing more generously, if she's able to control her own impulse to possess a toy.

And of course, kids that age want the toy the other person is playing with. Young toddlers are fascinated by other kids, but don't play with them so much as beside them – parallel play. Unless your daughter and the friend's child genuinely seem to enjoy each other, it might be a good idea to keep them separated until they're both a bit older.

Added: I do agree with Riley that a child understands leaving as a consequence. If that's works and it's agreeable to you and your friend, do it IMMEDIATELY when a bite occurs, or even an almost-bite.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

Yup. He bites, they leave. Work it out with your friend ahead of time.. and make sure to let your daughter know that if JohnnyB bites, he's going to have to go home.

I disagree that at 2.5 he won't get the point. That's how we enforced most of our rules at the same age: timeouts & leaving. He threw sand/rocks at the playground TWICE (and then threw a fit when we had to leave), and after that, all it took was a gentle reminder when we got to the park "Remember, you throw ______, and we'll be going home. You can make it rain, but not throw it." The first few times he got warnings and timeouts. But we have a house rule of 3 chances on a new rule. After that, swift and immediate justice. Whether it was hitting people, throwing things, whining, whatever. Rules are clear and simple. Even if we'd only been there 30 seconds... off we went home, and onto timeout.

He didn't LIKE it, but he got it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

That is tough. I think that she is probably doing the best she can. Children usually bite because they aren't communicating well. Does he talk? Does she socialize him in groups with other children?

I know that you hate that your daughter is the victim. It is probably harder for his Mother to deal with.

Follow your gut, not your anger or frustration.

THERE IS A GREAT BOOK OUT THERE "TEETH ARE NOT FOR BITING". It is a children's board book. I read it to my triplets for 3 mos when they were having a really hard time with each of them stealing toys and biting. The other that he might need is "When you are Angry and you know it". It teaches coping skills. It is awesome!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

As the mom of a biter, it's important to realize that my son doesn't understand biting is different from hitting. I'm hearing people say how horrible biting is, and I get it. But kids don't. My son was a biter because he's small, he felt intimidated and bullied and biting worked! It was always very emotional for me, because the other kid was rarely innocent, but no one cared about that! No one even bothered to consider the possibility that my son was reacting to someone taking his toy or pushing him or hitting him. I get it that biting is more dangerous and painful and scary. But he didn't.

My point is, as adults we see this as a more serious offense, but the kids don't. They don't understand that what they've done is any different than the kid that just hit them. You have to discipline biting just like hitting or pinching or kicking. And you just have to be vigilant, consistent and persistent. He will get the message. Just remember, he’s a kid too and just trying to figure out the world. And his mom really is doing the best she can to try to teach him.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

Time outs are not effective discipline , especially for her son who is still biting! Her using the "kind" modern method of "non discipline" is making your child unsafe. Tell her if she can't be firmer, you'd rather they don't play together until he outgrows this. Aggression should be treated firmly and solved right away, unfortunately it's not the trend.

I disagree with the claim that "harsh punishment" (aka firm discipline) doesn't stop biting. Absolutely untrue in every child I have ever seen disciplined for biting including my own 3. No one in my family bit anyone more than once with clear explanation and firm consequence. 2 1/2 year olds can absolutely control it. It's not a phenomenon, it's a wrong behavior. We already taught our one year old not to do it.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

There are two things I can think of; first you have to hover so you and your friend can stop it before it happens, second, 2 or 3 times is a lot in one visit, you may have to take some time away from them until he stops biting. I wouldn't worry about warning your friend ahead of time, believe me, she is upset and worked up about it enough and probably feels at her whits end already.

He will stop doing it pretty quickly if she is being consistent, so don't worry. If you still want to get together with them, you may want to see if you and your friend can meet at a park or McD's or something so they just run around and play with no toys to fight over.

Good luck!



answers from Chicago on

its a common communication issue. you need to make sure you watch them like a hawk while they play to intervene when he is going to bite ( Imagine how a daycare class of 10 kids with 2 teachers has to handle it! lots of fun let me tell you!) also make sure the biter isnt getting attention for his behavior. also help give him words to use instead of having to resort to biting



answers from Chicago on

Definitely do whatever you have to to protect your daughter from the biter, from limiting their contact, to talking to your friend. Just be ready for her to get upset. But , a three year old should definitely not be biting. It's a firm of bullying, and not good for either child.



answers from Chicago on

Both my kids bit and it only took 2 squirts of apple cider vinegar in their mouths and neither bit ever since. Since Apple Cider vinegar is edible, there is no danger. I tried it in my mouth first and it wasn't all that bad, but for a kid... works wonders. So, I would suggest to your friend that she try that and see how well it goes.

Good luck.


answers from Dallas on

Just real quick since I have to go....

He's 2 1/2....unfortunately he won't get the point when you make them leave.....

All I can advice is to make sure to console her BEFORE putting him in timeout.....

It's a good idea to repeat rules to those little ones....every time we go outside I have to remind the kids "The sand stays in the sand box !!!" and again once or twice during the time we're outside......otherwise they'll forget !!!

Try to remind him during play....."No biting !!!! We only bite food with our teeth !!!" .....

Eventually he'll grow out of it....when he's able to use his words more it will get better !!!

Edited to say: I work with 2 year old kids for 3 years now and I have to say most of them do NOT get the point.....Riley J.'s kid might have been the exception, but most of them don't get the point....

Plus, it would probably be very annoying to your friend if you'd kick her out every time this happens....she's trying her best and is being punished for her son's behavior.....don't be surprised if she decides not to come to a play date anymore....

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions