Michelle - posted on 03/11/2010 ( 4 moms have responded )
From My diary on October 27, 2006
My son was 4
The return of Dracula
Recently, a friend of mine had a situation in which her child was bitten by another child at day care. Now first of all, we all know that regardless of what type of parents we are, or how great our kids might be over all, Sometimes, kids go through these stages. Maybe its biting, maybe its hitting, or spitting, or some other behavior that drives us nuts. These stages are considered to be normal parts of development. Now, let me explain what "normal stage of development" means... It means that we expect children to do this. It does not mean that it is ok, or that we should ignore it. While it might be normal for a 3 year old to hit someone, it is then NORMAL for the parent to discipline the child, so that the child can learn to grow out of this "normal developmental stage".
The child who bit her little girl has been a known biter for over 6 months now. So, I guess the question is, "How long does it take to get your child out of this stage?" I am not an "expert" but my brother is...lol... And the answer is a heck of a lot shorter than 6 months. lol. Obviously, there is not a definition timetable, but with consistant discipline and rerouting, and barring a physiological problem, this should not go on for a significant length of time.
None of my children have been biters. Kate bit me once when she was 15 months old- she even drew blood. I screamed so loud ( it really hurt) that I think it startled her enough that she never did it again. However, I have faced a similar problem with hitting. And spitting.
The first thing to recognize is that there is a reason that the child is hitting (biting, etc). The most common is that they are feeling frustrated and can not adequately express that. That was certainly the case with my 4 year old- especially because he has Receptive Aphasia. But Aphasia or not, hitting in our family is unacceptable in all cases. Period. To me, I look at the large picture. It is simply not ok to disrespect other people ro their bodies. And causing someone pain is definitely disrespectful.
So, I made the behavior more inconvenient to my son than whatever benefit he might be getting from it. If he hit someone, He was immediately taken out of the situation. Usually, he was forced to stand at the door. ( For some reason, he can not sit in time out, so he stands with his nose to the wall). I usually had him stand there for 3 minutes which was one minute for each year he was at the time. Then I rerouted his hitting. This is one of my favorite techniques is child discipline. I told him he could not hit his sister, however, he could hit his pillow, and he could hit the handball, and he could hit with his home depot toy hammering set. Then I told him if he felt frustrated with his sister, he could talk to her with words, or he could come and talk to me, but hitting was not an option.
It got slightly better, but he still hit her. In love and Logic, we alsways say that we love chronic problems because they are the easiest to deal with. Why? Because if you know they are going to do it again, you have time to come up with a plan! So, one day, after he hit his siter, we had already had plans to meet another family at McDonald's playland. When we got there, I said, "You know, you hit your sister again today, and I am just not feeling like I can trust you to respect other people's bodies right now, so instead of playing, I think I am just going to have you sit at the table tonight." Naturally, he began to cry, and I just said, "I know how much you love to play with your friends, and how hard this must be for you, I am sorry that you have been having such a difficult time with hitting, it must be frustrating for you, but maybe by next week, you will be able to convince me that I can trust you to control your body." We then stayed a little bit longer than normal at McDonald's that night.
He did not hit his sister (or anyone else) for 3 weeks after that. Compliance is great because you can always build off that. I frequently told him how much I enjoyed watching him play so respectfully with his sister and his friends. When he finally did slip up, He was again restricted from playing with a friend. There was really no other discipline, I just said, "I let children play with their friends when I can trust that they will be respectful." From the time I felt his hitting was becoming an issue until the time I felt it was controlled was about 5 weeks, with constant and steady improvement. It has now been more than 7 months since this has come up.
The spitting was solved in about 12 minutes. My brother saw Austin spitting and took him aside. He said, "Hey buddy, I notice you seem to have too much saliva in your mouth right now. Why don't you spend the next 10 minutes spitting into this bucket. " After 10 minutes, my brother inspected his mouth, decided that he had a little saliva left and could easily go for another 2 minutes. He kept him outside, watching everyone else playing and having fun. After the 2 minutes, he said, "OK, it seems that we have gotten rid of all of that extra saliva, but if you need to spit again, this is where you may come to spit." ( Notice the rerouting- always give them a way that it is acceptable to do the behavior- allowable behaviors are never as much fun as things we are not supposed to be doing...) I have never seen Austin spit since that day.
I guess this is all to say sometimes, simply telling your child, "please stop biting" is not going to get it done. Sometimes, you are going to have to up the ante and actually parent your child. Or I guess you could wait and have the school do it for you... or even wait longer and the police will be happy to take care of it. I am not saying that if your child bites another kids, he will end up a criminal, but if biting keeps working for him, what is it going to take to change that pattern later on?
If only EVERYONE had to take parenting classes... lol... the world be so much nicer....lol
LOL, This happened over 3 years ago... And I had actually forgotten all about this brief period of time. But I do SO love these techniques!! When my youngest turned 4, she began hitting as well, and I did the same exact technique... her hitting completely stopped in less than 2 weeks.