Help w/ my Biter?

Stacy - posted on 08/16/2009 ( 8 moms have responded )

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My 20 month old is no longer allowed in the nursery at church for biting! He bites his siblings this is number 4 and I am at my wits end!!! Help please!!!! I will take any suggestions!!! thanks

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Carrie - posted on 08/23/2009

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As a child care provider, I know the troubles a biter can bring to a classroom. Also as a child care provider I HATE it when children are kicked out of school for biting. It is a part of being a toddler!!! It is developmentally appropriate. Is it desirable? Absolutely not! At my school, this is what we typically do when we notice a child biting...



1. Note time, who is bitten, and reason for bites in a "Biting Log." This is to see if there is a pattern. Is it around a meal time? Maybe they are hungry. Is it over a toy? Maybe it is because they do not have the verbal skills to say "It's mine!" or "I want that." Is it when a teacher is holding another child? Maybe it is for attention from a teacher. Is it when two other children are playing together? Maybe the biter doesn't know how to say "Can I play too?"



2. If a pattern is prevalent, try to do what you can to head it off. Make mealtimes a bit earlier or have a bit of something on hand that child can snack on (frozen bagels work well) until it is time to sit down as a group and eat. If it is over toys, maybe you need more of something (more trucks, blocks, etc.). If it is defensive, maybe you need to model language they can use "NO! Stop! Mine! etc." Other phrases that should be modeled, "Can I play? Can I use it?" Children are learning their coping skills at this age. If they can't have a toy, you can't expect them to be ok with that and just walk away. They need someone to tell them, "I know you want the truck. Mikey is using it. Let's find another truck." or "When Mikey is done you can have a turn. Come help me build a house." Do they bite in high stress situations (another child crying, someone taking a toy, Mom leaving, an activity they like stopping)? Maybe they need an adult to help them through transitions.



3. If a pattern is not prevalent, perhaps there is an oral motor issue. It could be the child just likes the way it feels to chomp down on something. Often in a classroom setting, offering a number of sensory activities can help - playing in a water table, with playdough, being able to touch/taste different textures, etc.



4. So what do you do with the child right after they bite? Biting them back teaches them that it is ok to solve problems with biting – violence solves violence. In a firm voice, at their level, I say, “Biting hurts. No biting.” Then I walk them away from the area. Again depending on why they may have bitten, I may do different things. If it was for attention, by then giving them attention (lecturing them on biting, reading them a book, holding them on your lap) it teaches them biting gets them attention. Again, offering vocabulary that they can use if it was over a toy. If it was due to them being stressed, naming that feeling (“Are you scared? Sad? Etc.) and reassuring them that when they are feeling that way they can tell you and you can help.



Tell his siblings that if he bites them, they are to say "I don't like that. No bite!" and walk away from him immediately. You need to send a clear consistent message that it isn't ok and this is what will happen when he bites.



I know this is a lot of stuff! Know that most children, by the time they are really talking (usually age three) they do not continue biting. Talk to your pediatrician too! There are specialists out there who can observe your child and help try to pin point what is going on. Good luck!!!!!

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Cindy - posted on 08/22/2009

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I would have to agree with the above post. Please don't bite your child. It is so important to help your child to develop his/her language skills and biting back only sends negative non-verbals. A couple of alternative suggestions....If you want to work on not biting, you can do some preventative role play with dolls. Show your child two dolls that are playing and one doll bites the other. You can tell the biter doll that biting is not acceptable. Talk to your child about what he/she is allowed to bite. You can use rewards for not biting every thirty minutes (at church, you might do every 10 minutes) and an egg timer works really well for this! Positive Reinforcment works great for kids that want to please others. Also, I really liked the other suggestions for teaching empathy by bandaging anf fussing over the kid that was bitten. Be consistant and your child will get the message!

Blair - posted on 08/22/2009

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I have worked with children around 20 to 2 years old. I also take classes on how children this age develop. It is natural for them to bite because they do not have the communication skills just yet so we need to help them by saying No Bite it hurts we only bite food. i would talk to the people at church and see if they will work with your child let them know you are working with them at home. open lines of communication are so important with children this age. please don't bite your child back that just teaches them you are bigger and want control. biting back also teaches them it is okay and it really isnt! Good luck

Nicola - posted on 08/21/2009

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Is he teething bu anychance? my boy got his fangs/k9's coming through an thats why he's bitting I hope its the reason. I agree with the time out though seems to be working for my little bitter.

User - posted on 08/21/2009

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Hi, I so sympathise, this is so embarrassing. The first thing to note, is that this is completely normal behaviour in children that a) have the desire to socialise early and b) get the opportunity to do so! Your child is not a vicious brat that has been badly brought up but a little interested human desperate to try out the friendship business.

Your church´s attitude is very typical but it is also a rather old-fashioned attitude that stems out of a time when people had very little interest in how children develop. Your child wants to interact but hasn´t built up his social skills yet.

He may be using biting for a number of reasons. One is as a deliberate manouvre to get his own way. The best thing, but probably not very practical for you at the moment, would be if he got a few bites back from other children. For you, I think a very clear and immediate Time Out (or some other very clear message) would certainly help.

It is, however, also likely that he simply gets so frustrated that he does it out of rage because he simply doesn´t know what else to do. In this case, he also needs immediate Time Out to calm down and then I would suggest you get out the plasters and cream and get him to "treat" the bitten child´s bit wound. This has more or an effect on them than you would think.

Good luck and try to stay sane.

Nicola - posted on 08/20/2009

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My 20mnth old has been bitting I was told to bite back so i did, not hard bu he knew what i'd done to be upset but then had a bite today from him so i screamed and pretended to cry, walked away from him and told him to think about what he'd done, he sat where he was for a few min and seemed to know he done wrong.
Im sticking with this method as bitting him back only worked for a bit and i felt terrible after.
good luck with it.

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Is he biting you at all? Depending on if he has a sensative nature or not, when he bites, scream.....LOUD. It sounds a little extreme but he knows he screams when he is hurt. Maybe he will understand then that it hurts. May take a couple tries. Good luck!

Terri - posted on 08/17/2009

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Bit him back...when someone first told me that i said no way..then one day i did...not hard enought to hurt her but to get her attition,she hasent bit anyone ever again

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