I can not get my 3 year old to stop bitting

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Michele - posted on 04/21/2011

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Listen up!
My son bit people for a couple of years (age1-3), didn't seem to be any reason for it, he coud speak very well and understand words very well, I mean he was well above average!
Reasons I found for biting:
animal instinct- those he liked or loved the most got biten.
social skills- the other children would snatch things off him and he would ask for it back, they wouldn't give it back, like typical 2 yr olds, so he bit them, they dropped the toy and he got it. It was the quickest way to get it back. He was reapeatedly told to say to an adult, but guess what? The adults were often too involved in something else to listen to him, so he took control and sorted the situation himself. Clever wee man, he was, and still is!
I had to take him out of playgroup and daycare and keep him at home because they couldn't stop the biting and he was going to get a bad report for nursery school. I put all of my time into preventing the biting happening, I socialised him lots at parent and tot groups and various other kid places, I followed him around and stopped him from biting every time he went for it, and showed him to to do instead, he picked it up quickly, as for loved ones, I told them to say no firmly and walk away from him, and I explained each and every time that it hurt them and thats why they are walking away, they dont like being hurt, and the biting eventually stopped. He was very persistent!
Stick to the same method (whichever you choose) and do it over and over and over and over again, you'll be sick of it, but it will work in the end.
If you feel you are 'losing it', take you and everyone else outside into the garden or into a different room, if possible, take deep breaths, phone a friend, or whatever else calms you down in that situation.
If there is no change in 3 months, I would ask to see a child phychologist, when you get a good one they are fab!
P.S. Lots of physical exercise helped too. I took him him swimming a couple of times a week and to the playpark or for walks (to spot nature or cars depending on where we went, and he knew lots about nature and car makes by the time he started school) almost every day - rain or shine!
P.P.S.I had another baby 22mths after he was born, and it was tough dealing with this with the two of them but you can do it! I did! She NEVER bit.
You must be whole-heartedly behind the method you choose or it won't work, your child will get mixed messages.

Elizabeth Carroll - posted on 09/26/2009

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It's so hard to watch your child go through this phase. It certainly humbles you. My second in line was a biter. It surely is a case of anger manangement. It never occurred to me to bite my own child back though. When she would bite my first instinct was to get her off me by pushing away. You need to fight that urge and actually pull the child into you. She'll then need to open her mouth to breathe and have less time to sink her teeth into your flesh. As for what to do when your child bites another child, definetly remove them from the situation right then. Fun is over, and they will not be returning to play with their mate until they have served their time out. Make sure they apologize and you do too. Not sure about how to approach what to do after the fact ie behavior is happening at day care. My children are home with me, the biter out grew the phase before hitting pre-school. Good Luck.

Susan - posted on 09/21/2009

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Please don't bite back. I 2 am a teacher and like the other lady said there are many other methods of stopping this behaviour. Time out and consistency and having a good role model will work well but it takes hard work on the part of the parents and surrounding adults. Like I said before, my twins knew it hurt one another and frustration and immaturity was usually the route of most of their biting. Its strange to read so many people saying bite them back hard enough 2 hurt but not hard enough 2 leave a mark... if u bite your child hard enough 2 hurt them surely it will leave a mark, plus how do u know how hard you re biting. As a teacher if a child turned up in my class with an adult bite mark on them this would surely be investigated .

Cheraki - posted on 05/07/2012

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As mean as it sounds I will agree with the other parents on here... Bite him back. Just hard enough to get his attention and then say it hurts doesn't it. That's how mommy feels when you bite me.

I've done this with all 4 of my children and it stopped.

Good Luck to you

Ellie - posted on 03/16/2011

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some kids bite because chewing on stuff feels good. does he try to chew the toothbrush when you brush his teeth? are there certain chewy foods you've noticed he really enjoys? does he bite himself? if you feel safe in giving it to him, try taffy but not gum. tootsie pops are also good. see if he'll accept a toy he can chew on, like a rubber ducky, or even dig out some plastic teething rings. you may think he's past teething now and too "old" for these things, but if it is a sensory issue, he needs something appropriate to help fulfill that need.

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Shavonne - posted on 03/17/2011

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My son bit me when he was about 1 maybe 2, and just out of reaction I bit him back and I will admit i did leave slight teeth indentions BUT he never bit me or anyone else AGAIN. I believe in that and would try it. It'll suck but you must get him to stop. good luck momma

Andrea - posted on 03/16/2011

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My son used to bite horribly, I'm talking I had HUGE black and blue bruises over my shoulders, on the backs of my legs (he would just walk up to me for no reason while I was doing dishes or whatever and bit me), on my arms. I had my boss ask if everything was OK at home it was so bad (I was sharing a house with my ex who wasn't violent but she knew the situation was tense). I tried time outs, smacking his hand, swatting his butt, mustard on his tongue (on suggestion) I was consistent, I tried not reacting, reacting loudly, etc etc. NOTHING worked. He was also biting at daycare, he stopped when in quick succession he bit one of the kids at daycare and they bit him back before the minders could reach them, and then that weekend he bit me really badly (I had a bruise for weeks, and he had actually done enough damage for the bruise to turn bloody under the skin and raise up a little it was so sore that I couldn't sit down properly for ages) and I finally gave in and bit him back on the shoulder. He cried and I cried and I felt terrible, but he never bit me again and he didn't bite others either.

I generally try the non agressive tactics first but if those don't work with consistent effort, listen to your Mum.

Christie - posted on 03/16/2011

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What worked with my son was every time he did it or even started to, we tapped with a finger (not "hit") his little lips, and said something like, "No biting!" or "We DO NOT BITE!"...You get the gist. It got his attention, and didn't hurt him, etc... Also, we would simply have a little talk with him about how biting hurts, and that we did not hurt our friends/or whoever he was about to/or did bite. If he does actually bite, timeout is a good way to "reinforce" the idea that it is not a "good choice", too, along with the things I mentioned. Good luck!

Sam - posted on 10/02/2009

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bite him back and say did that hurt.Yes it did i can see it did,so dont do it too me!

Brittany - posted on 09/26/2009

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No it's not a joke and it worked. I was frustrated completely because my husband and I did everything the ped, our parents and our friends suggested for three months and the biting did not lessen. Then one day a friend of ours with a 2.5 year old said when her daughter did that she let another kid bite her back and she stopped and sure enough, my son has never bitten again. It sounds horrid especially since in our society we think most punishments are abusive and cruel but it stopped it the first shot. now if it didn't work I would have felt like an ogre and thrown up my hands in defeat. What else could I have done at that point but eliminate him from socializing with other kids? At that point in his life if he was with other kids he bit and it was getting out of control because I had no idea where he learned to do it or how to stop it! It was a last resort when three months of timeouts and no's while tapping his lips did nothing.

Elke - posted on 09/26/2009

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I don´t want that my children are hurting somebody else, I don´t bite my children and I never ever would allowed somebody else to bite / hurt one of my kids.......biting allowed between good friends? Pardon me, with all respect but I hope that´s a joke, isn´t it?!

Brittany - posted on 09/26/2009

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I am a teacher and I say bite the child back! it stopped my son really fast when time outs and spankings didn't do the trick. What made my son stop was when he bit a five year old and the five year old looked at me shocked and I told him to bite my son right back but not too hard and my son NEVER did it again. Cam didn't even leave a mark on Ethan but Ethan has yet to ever bite another person since. It helps though that I am good friends with the child's parents I let bite my son. I think just encouraging anyone's kid to bite might get you in trouble! Good luck!

Jodie - posted on 09/21/2009

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my children went through this stage and i would bite them back. u know just hard enough to let them feel how it hurts. after a few times they usually give it up cause they dont want to have it done to them. this also works with a child who pinches or pulls hair. it sounds cruel but it isnt as bad as it sounds

Cheryl - posted on 09/20/2009

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Hi..... I had the same problem with my second eldest child when he was little...... I was given a piece of advise that did work for him..... I was told NOT to bite them back because that can just confuse them cause your biting them..... instead everytime they bite someone, put their own finger in their mouth and make them bite themselves, that way they learn that their teeth DO hurt....... at the same time of doing this, calmly but sternly tell them that biting hurts, their teeth hurt.........I did this a couple of time and my son stopped biting people....... babies put things in their mouth all the time when little as their way of investigating.... this habit of putting things in their mouths can continue on till they are much older, and so biting can start to occur, their not meaning to hurt, they just don't realise that their teeth hurt............just an idea, different things work for different children..... good luck

Aimee - posted on 09/20/2009

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I WAS A PRESCHOOL TEACHER FOR 11 YRS AND BITING THEM BACK IS THE WORST THING THAT YOU CAN DO ALL IT IS DOING IS TEACHING THEM TO BITE. USE A CALM VOICE AND TELL YOUR CHILD THAT ITS NOT NICE TO BITE AND THE EXPLAIN TO YOUR CHILD THAT THEY NEED TO SIT IN A THINKING CHAIR TO RELIZE WHAT HE/SHE HAS DONE. ONLY LEAVE THEM IN FOR THE ALLOTTED TIME OF THERE AGE. AFTER THINKING TIME IS OVER MAKE YOUR CHILD SAY SORRY. BE VERY STERN. I KNOW OUR OWN CHILDREN CRYING WILL GET TO US, BUT DONT GIVE IN

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You know, stuff like that is totally fixable. Spank him! Make it count. I know, I know, I'm stirring up a frenzy on the whole spanking debate. Let me tell you something, if you took him and gave him a swat then got in his face and was STERN you'd get that out of him in a hurry.

Belinda - posted on 09/20/2009

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my son done this only because i was playing with him pretended to bite him and he picked up on this and copied me so i stopped this staight away, Do you have a naughty chair so when they bite you put them on it straight away and tell them ( not bellow ) its wrong and it hurts when you bite, i pretended to cry once when my son had bitten me and it worked ! he stopped biting and he was quite concerned at the time, hope it works out for you.

Elke - posted on 09/19/2009

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The theory is very weak! I am a mother of twin boys, double the trouble at the same time ;-), and they both were biting each other. So they know that biting hurts but this didn´t stop them at all. They just couldn´t communicate well and they have to learn to act social because they are children and no little adults. Both also hit and kicked me sometimes whilest I changed them, put them on new dresses...That hurts! Did I hit or kick them back? No, of course not! So what is the funny thing about biting that makes us bite back?
Plus if your child bites you and you bite back just a little bit, so it doesn´t hurt them. It´s good that you doesn´t hurt them but why do you bite at all? Following your theory you have to hurt your child, just to make them learn biting hurts. So in that case I am sure they will love that funny game and it makes no sense to me. I just try to imagine the following scenario. My family visites a Restaurant. My boys stard a conflict because of a toy. They are impatient, don´t want to share and so on... To get this one special toy they are biting each other. As a result and following your theory I bite both of them, to let them understand that it hurts to bite. Now my husband has to bite me because he wants me to stop and I have to learn that it hurts to bite :-o What a happy family. I mean, Come on!

Allie - posted on 09/19/2009

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When you bite a child back, that shows them that it hurts someone when they bite. You don't want to really hurt them, but enough so they get the idea. Smacking, not slapping their cheek or hand to the point that is shocks them can be effective as well. There is always time out as well.

Angie - posted on 09/19/2009

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I found a little squishy plastic ball and I call it the "biting ball." It seems to work with my kids. If they feel the need to start biting, I tell them to go get the biting ball and bite on that. That way, they get the biting need taken care of while learning that it's not okay to bite something, or someone, that isn't made for biting. A teething ring, or anything that you feel comfortable setting aside for your child to bite, should work. As long as it's soft enough to feel good in their mouth. Good luck! I hope you can figure something out.

Sherri - posted on 09/19/2009

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it all depends on the kid and the situation. the ones that learned to bite by being bitten, biting them isn't going to work. In most normal cases lightly biting them does work. then there is a few that discipline works better. you know your kid, trust your instincts and good luck

Amanda - posted on 09/19/2009

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very lightly bite her back when she does it, just enough to make her feel it and NOT leave marks on her, and also even tho shes only 3 you can give her time outs for biting and explain what its for. put a chair in the corner and have her sit there, just keep re-enforcing the no biting tho

Tammie - posted on 09/19/2009

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as mum of 6 all mine bit n we bit back no mark left just to say see it not nice , it worked with all mine each child diff. gd luck

Susan - posted on 09/19/2009

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Hi there. I have a twin boys who are nearly 3. They went through a stage of biting from about 18 months to 2yrs. Did i bite back... definately NO! Those who say 2 bite back say so 2 show the child that it hurts, but my 2 were biting each other so there well aware that it hurt and hurt alot, because they would bite hard, leaving each other covered in bite marks!! When it happened we consistently used time out for the biter, saying NO BITE, and lots of attention for the one bitten. It took time but the biting got less severe and for the past 6 months they ve only bitten on very rare occasions of extreme frustration. We are now tryin 2 teach them how to walk away in these circumstances and 2 give themselves timeout 2 calm down before something happens. My boys are also great copiers and i want 2 show them that biting is wrong and if i bit them i would be passing on the wrong signals 2 them. Of course this is only my opinion and it has worked for us.Good luck and be consistent :o)

Elke - posted on 09/18/2009

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With all respect ! Be a role model and please don´t bite your little children. It hurts them.

Jennifer - posted on 09/18/2009

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Violence beget violence. Biting is a communication issue. You need to make yourself aware when your child is about to bite. We have seen it, if its the balling of fist or lip poke out before they react. Catch the child before they react and talk it out with them why they are angry or if they wanted something and they are not getting the attention they wanted. Help them to talk it out. Its usually because they can not express themselves in words, so they bite to get the point across.

Jennifer - posted on 09/18/2009

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I never understood the bite them back philosophy.

Biting hurts in a stern tone, put them somewhere and ignore them for a few minutes. This is really effective if they did it while cuddling or playing.

Kids also bite out of frustration and not being able to communicate effectively. Teaching them to use their words (and help them learn them such as "I don't like that") helps immensely.

For kids under two, connect a small teething ring to a paci holder and have them bite that. A lot of times when the two year molars are coming in they will bite anything and everything and human skin has an interesting texture.

I worked in a daycare center, and we certainly were not biting kids and those three things helped curb a majority of the biters.

Christie - posted on 09/18/2009

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I don't believe in biting back, just like I don't believe in spanking. To me it's just doing what you're telling them not to do. However, I do agree with getting their attention by putting your finger to the mouth, and strongly stressing, "No biting!", and timeouts. It always worked for me, whether it was my own child or one I was caring for. Also, if it continues for so long that you feel like there might be an issue, you might ask your doctor. Sometimes there are physical reasons why a child bites continuously.

Becky - posted on 09/18/2009

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when my son was 1-2 he bit everyone who got close enough.my mother kept telling me to bite him back and i couldn't do it. then one morning i was awoken to an all to familiar pain in my arm...too far.i bit him back.not hard enough to make a mark , and i don't know who cried harder, him ar me. my son is ten now and has not bitten another person since that day.

Kimberly - posted on 09/17/2009

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Let me just say that at this age time outs don't work...quick disipline then over it, explain no bite, ouch hurts, then a few spanks on the bottom. CONSISTANCY though, must be followed though everytime.

Amelia - posted on 09/17/2009

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If none of the conventional methods work, (time-outs, biting them back, etc.) My mum has always suggested just grab a spray bottle. As much as I hate the comparison, my mom used it on both me and our dogs. It's one of the most harmless ways to deal with it and it give your child a shock factor.

Jessica - posted on 09/17/2009

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Here are a few things to ask yourself. Does he speak well? What triggers him biting? What things have you tried to get him to stop biting?

Now if he is speaking and communicated well. And if you have tried talking with him about teeth are for food and not to be used on people. That he needs to use his words when mad or frustrated. And you have put him in time out and made him say he is sorry and things like that.

Then my last suggestion is to bite him back so he understand it does hurt to be bitten. At a young age children don't understand others pain they only understand their own. It is rare to have a child that has empathy for others.

Bite just hard enough to get his attention. You in no way need to bite him as hard as he is biting others. This isn't to harm a child it is to teach them. I do not support or suggest to bite hard enough to even leave a mark. It's not necessary and to me that would be abusive. Bite him just hard enough for it to pinch.

I have 4 children 3 were biters and I've had one child stop from me saying the no biting it hurts and then two that needed to be bit back before they stopped biting. I do the same thing for pulling hair I tug their hair and tell them that hurts you don't do that. We give hugs and talk about it.

Cristina - posted on 09/16/2009

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It's ok to try and do what you think might work, you know your child, and what might work for them. Now, your child is 3 years old, a 3 year old shouldn't be biting anything or any one by now, I say time out, he or she understands exactly why you are putting them there for.

Janet - posted on 09/16/2009

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My first child bit more than the second one, and I bit them both back and they never did it again.

Carrie - posted on 09/16/2009

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Paddle him/her on the butt and say no that is bad. My 15 month old started to do that. He only did that to me twice. THe first time he cried the second time he just let go of my leg. The sound of your hand on their butt scares them and gets their attention. Yet your not hurting them.

Crystal - posted on 09/16/2009

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i say bite him back. all three of mine have bitten me and i would bite them back. not hard to leave a mark but to let them know how it feels. and they never bit me or anyone else again. when my oldest was younger he would bite me all the time. i tried popping him on the hand telling him no, on the butt, and in the mouth and none of that worked. well when i bit him back that got his attention and he never done it again and it only took my other two bitting me once and i knew what to do then and i bit them and they never bit again. well one time one child bit the other and i had the other one that got bit to bite the one that bit back and they never bit each other again. but you have to do whats best for you to get the lesson to your child that bitting isnt ok.

Lori - posted on 09/16/2009

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Bite back....1 time should do the trick. My 3 year old bit his 7 year old brother and I bit him back and he hasn't done it since :)

Kristen - posted on 09/16/2009

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my son had that problem not too long ago and i was scared to do it but everyone i talked to said bite back. i did and he stopped real quick. i babysat a 2 year old with the same problem who's mom believed "it is just a phase and will pass on it's own", the other day the little girl bit my son and drew blood!!! i almost was tempted to bite HER back but instead i no longer watch her.

Karen - posted on 09/16/2009

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hey melissa

after all the advice you have been given, im interested to know what course of action you have taken and did it work, since im experiencing the same with my 3 year old who bites his brother in temper leaving teeth marks and bruises...



i hope you have been successful

April - posted on 09/16/2009

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When he/she bites someone have them eat a tsp of alum spice. It does not hurt them because it is a cooking spice. It tastes very bitter. I also have made them eat something they don't like. My children only bit once when the had to eat something bitter or they didn't like. They never wanted to bite again. When i worked at a day care we explained to them that it wasn't ok to bite people. Than we would give them something expample a teething ring explained they could bit the toy instead.

Indira - posted on 09/16/2009

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My daughter did the same thing, but I asked my doctor what i can do and he said bite her back. NEVER bite hard but very lightly and quick then put your child in time out, tell your child biting hurts and it is not nice. You have to talk like a child to, so just tell your child biting hurts and you are sad. Time out is a really good thing to, especially if you find a spot they dislike. My daughter hates looking at the wall in the kitchen where she cant see me, but she learned and does not want to go back to time out. I would try time out first if not, then i suggest you bite back and raise your voice! Nothing wrong with that and no it won't teach them to throw more tantrums, but every child is different. Once she felt the pain well somewhat of pain she did it like 2 times more and i bite her back 2 more times and she stopped. You have all the advice so it's up for you to choose what.

Good luck

Heather - posted on 09/16/2009

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Did anyone stop to think that their teeth at that age are very sharp! Regardless of why the child is biting, unless your teeth are as sharp as theirs, it will take you biting them harder than you think before they get the picture. I would do everything possible to avoid biting them back, but if they are stubborn and just don't get it, then maybe you could try it, but that goes back to swatting them when you tell them not to hit.

Heather - posted on 09/16/2009

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I have always heard to bite them back, but then again that would like telling your child not to hit when you just swatted them for hitting. I would try putting something on their tongue that they do not like. It doesn't have to be a large amount, just something they do not like the taste of. Worked for my kids.

Linda - posted on 09/16/2009

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Tell your child "NO biting" and than remove them from your personal space. My son stopped beacause he didn't like the distant I put between us.

Sonya - posted on 09/16/2009

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I just bit my child to let him know how it felt and he never bit again. but don;t go crazy.

Idelissa - posted on 09/16/2009

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Hello,

When my daughter was biting, I endured the pain for a day or two, instead of reacting by screaming OUCH I would just bite my lip and smile, after a day or two it was no longer exciting or fun to do it and she stopped

hope this helps

Amy - posted on 09/16/2009

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My son was not too bad at biting but he did it a few times. I pulled his mouth away and told him no bit. he did it again later on. I did bit back just a little to show that hurts and he stoped.

A kid in day care bit him once and I think to that showed him. Do not bit to make marks or to make him bleed or anything just to show him. If that does not work just take away a toy he loves and put im in time out. I used to be a teachers aid and we could not hit or bitback.

I would pull their mouth away from my hand and say NO BIT and put them in time out. When others would bit usualy it stoped the other child but sometimes it did not. Ur us hard You have to use your own judgement but it is very hard. Try being a teacher or an aid cause there is not much you can do but you must stop it some how. Best wishes to you. Hope you find something that words.

Ishma Sunaina - posted on 09/15/2009

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bite back...it works.......i did it........didnt stop bitin till he strted cryin.....i know i was mean...but it hurted me toooooo.....

Nicole - posted on 09/15/2009

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I had that same problem with my 3 year old. I finally had to bite her. You don't want to bite too hard but they have to know that it hurts so it is a delicate balance. Once I did that she realized she was hurting me and NEVER did it again. I hate to say it... but it works

[deleted account]

My daughter bit me when she was 2 years old and i bit her back (hard enough) and now she doesnt bite anymore bc we talked about how it felt.

Angela - posted on 09/15/2009

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This may sound strange but he may need more positive attention for his accomplishments and give him no attention for the biting,

Elke - posted on 09/15/2009

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I respect the opinion of course but for me personally makes no sense. In general it depends on the age. For me it would make a difference if a three year old or a 7 year old bites others. For example when a three year old child is angry and "hits" you or kick you whilest you change him, do you hit or kick him back? No, of course not.
For me personally I understand that I am a role model and I don´t bite, especially not my own children ;-)

[deleted account]

I have to say, I have (3) children and every one of them bit me only (1) time because as when they bit me, I bit them back. Children at young ages do not understand that fact of other people and feelings in the world around them. This is a perfect opportunity to share with your child that when they bite it is physically and emotionally painful. Sometimes the best lessons in life are learned the hard way.

Elke - posted on 09/15/2009

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Come on! It makes no sense to explain your child that it is wrong to bite and you bite too :-o Try to see in which situation he/she is doing that and find another way. The kids must learn to act social, it´s not innate in every human beeing. Help him/her to learn.
Poor you, one questions and a lot of good advices. Well, Listen to your heart that is always the right answer ;-) Big hug.

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