How do you stop a child from biting?

Amy - posted on 05/19/2010 ( 19 moms have responded )

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I have a 2-year-old grandson that recently became a biter. He has left full teeth marks on his cousins. How do you stop a child from biting? How do you discipline them for biting?

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Shannon - posted on 05/22/2010

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Sit him down and go directly to the other child. Give less attention to the biter. Give the victom a hug and model what should be done when someone gets hurt. He'll be watching. Then go to him and tell him biting hurts people and he needs to say sorry. "How can I make you feel better?" works well because "sorry" can feel a bit empty. Biting may start for a reason but quickly becomes habitual. Help him break the habit by being part of the solution - not the problem. Encourage him to "fix" the people he has hurt.

[deleted account]

I like Jackie's Idea of using books to explain what to do. Some times I use books from sandbox learning (you can make the illustrations reflect your child so it looks like them put their name in the book and print it out at home). Kids LOVE books about them. The book its self gives a script for various situations. When I'm afraid I will tell my Mom or Dad. etc. But You have to know what the child is going through. Is his biting out of fear, control, frustration, fun? But when you give kids another way to communicate they will follow it, esp if you give lots of positive feed back when they do it right and give almost no attention to them when they do it wrong. I like what Jackie said about giving the attention to the victim. If Hes after attention it won't work out the way he expects.



I do know My Mom got my brother to stop biting by very deftly moving his arm in the way when he was trying to bite her. He bit himself! and that was the last time he ever bit anyone. He was 21 months at the time. We have lots of tools in our parenting tool box which one you choose is up to you but consistency is the key.

Jackie - posted on 05/21/2010

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I recommend getting the book Teeth are Not for Biting. This first teaches what is appropriate and what is not. Read it often at times when she is not in trouble.

If she bites, the first thing you do is address the person who was bitten ("are you ok?" comfort, soothe, etc.). You want to avoid the temptation to react first to your child (by giving attention you can inadvertently reinforce the behavior). This is very difficult, but very important! After you have addressed the "victim" I would recommend some kind of time out/social isolation for an age-appropriate amount of time. After that, use the language from the book (teeth are not for biting, biting hurts) to explain why she's being punished and give her an appropriate replacement behavior (use your words, ask for help, etc.).

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Tasha - posted on 02/27/2011

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my son is two years old and we had the same problem with him biting. what we used to do was tell him not to do it , and bite him back if he continued. he quit very quickly.

Sherri - posted on 05/22/2010

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I am sorry I had probably the worst biter on the planet. He is now 11 but from the age of 1 to 3 he bit. He would not release until he drew blood each and every time. My friends would tell all there kids if my son opened his mouth to run. I tried biting him back, spanking him, time outs, reasoning with him. We did not find one thing that worked. He thank heavens out grew it right as he turned age 3. Good luck.

Linda - posted on 05/22/2010

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Honestly I use to say the same thing.What I was told and this was by a doctor and several people.You bite them back and they will stop.So if you haven't tried that do so and if it doesn't work I am sorry.

Brenda - posted on 05/22/2010

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Oh, I feel for you! My son first bit at 7 mos.--me, while we were nursing. I had been told a "strong" reaction would work, which actually came rather naturally, and he LAUGHED...I knew then I was in for a ride. His biting was in frustration, and continued for longer than I want to remember. It was isolating...some of the reactions of the parents who's children were bitten were horrible...some would ask what I was doing to make him act like that and others told me I should keep him away from anyone until he knew better (how was he supposed to learn how to act if I kept him away from everyone?!) I tried biting back (that had worked with my niece), hot sauce (BTW, childrens services does NOT approve of this method, they say it is abuse), time outs, and not taking him near other children...nothing really "worked"...eventually, he just bit less and less until he didn't do it anymore. I guess what I'm trying to say is to try anything (within reason) to make it stop, but don't beat yourself up if it continues...I don't know of any adults who have a biting problem, so eventually we must outgrow it, LOL. FYI, my son is now 17 and an honors student (he scored 1950 on his SATs ), so maybe biting is an early sign of intelligence! Yeah, that's the ticket!!

Veronica - posted on 05/21/2010

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Most of the women in my mom's group said that bitting back worked. They need to know how it feels and it usually works quicker then time out. But you have to react quickly with "No biting! It hurts!" Then flick their mouth or bite them back. The book "Baby Wise" says to bite back as well. The person above that said it didn't make sense to teach this way but it actually does. An eye for an eye.

Johanna - posted on 05/21/2010

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I also agree with Sierra, my son also would bite when he was young. I would explain that it was bad and how it hurt others; and would bite him back, then put him in time out to think about it. Didn't take long and he understood.

Amber - posted on 05/21/2010

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I bit my daughter back. I think she was 1 1/2 at the time. It sounds awful, but it works. I didn't do it very hard, just enough to show her that it does hurt and it's not nice. It had a couple small consequences to it though, my husband at the time got upset that I did it that way (it's honestly how I was taught and saw all other parents teaching their kids though)...and up until a year ago, when I just pretend to gnaw on her hand or something because she has it in my face, she draws back quickly in fear saying "Mom don't do that, the last time you bit me" I explained to her why I did it though, and I think she's over it. *grimaces*

Christina - posted on 05/21/2010

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Well...I have 4 kids and one of mine was a serious bitter. It was awful. So I used hot sauce. I know it seems cruel but it really did work. I would keep a little bottle of Tabasco on the counter ready for whenever she would bite. I felt like it was an appropriate punishment for her mouth. Just a couple drops did the trick. Good luck.

Linda - posted on 05/20/2010

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Biting is an immature social response. We sometimes forget that our children do not have the coping skills that we as adults have developed. In a social setting he is feeling overwhelmed by the activity around him. I totally disagree with trying to teach a child to quit bitting by bitting back. That is as non-useful as trying to teach them to not hit by hitting them. Removal from the overwhelminig situation until the child can calm is helpful, along with expressing your disapproval to biting. Mainly please realize that the biting in a child of 2 yrs old is part of a developmental stage, not a purposeful acting out on the part of the toddler. Remember, you are the teacher, help him to learn how to play appropriately, rather than punishing him for not knowing how.

Maggie - posted on 05/20/2010

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i agree with sierra, that was the absolute only way to get my son to stop biting, not hard enough to leave marks but to show him it hurts when he does it to other people, NOTHING else worked....but goodluck

Kim - posted on 05/20/2010

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My daughter was a biter and I know that a lot of people are really against physical discipline but the ONLY thing that kind of worked with her was a little flick to the corner of her mouth. It had to be very consistent for a very long time thought... honestly I don't even know if that's what did it or if she just outgrew it because the stage lasted about a year! It's very maddening I know... hope you find something effective soon.

[deleted account]

Maybe some chew tubes or grabbers for him to munch on look em up under speech therapy tools. My daughter used to mouth biting before she would do it. So I had a bit of warning. As long as you and Mom are doing the same consequence for biting he will get eh picture. also if you can be low key ahh look your biting again time to be with me, since your not safe around the other kiddos. and off to the laundry room to help sort clothing. It gets boring really fast.
Maybe some Ambesol to ease the pain in his mouth?

Sierra - posted on 05/19/2010

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I'm not quite sure of your full situation but with my 2 1/2 yr old, when she bites, she either gets bitten back (by whomever is watching her and thats usually me or my mom), or lightly smacked on the mouth. Those are the only ways I'm able to punish her, otherwise she would sit there and laugh at me when i patted her hand or her bum. She only went through that stage for maybe a week or two till she got tired of being punished for biting. She's bitin me before and left me in tears and bleeding and has almost done the same to her 2 older siblings.

Amy - posted on 05/19/2010

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My daughter thinks that part of it is because he has some molars coming in. Could this be part of why he's biting now? He didn't use to but he has always been real cranky when he's teething.

[deleted account]

I had a biter, she was a fear biter. Separation usually works but in separating him from the pack of cousins he has to spend time with you. Not a time out more like a time In. like oh I think you need to help Grandma in the kitchen, here is a towel can you wash the floor? They want attention but are going about getting it the wrong way. yet chores are not exactly fun.. well to a 2 year old they might be. But it works 2 ways they get personal time with you in a helpful way. and they are not hurting their cousins. And they don't get to be with the cousins. It helped us. Hope it helps you. :-)

Rachel - posted on 05/19/2010

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You can show/tell him what he can bite (i.e. food). Also tell him that it hurts whoever he is biting and give him an example of something he would understand on how it would feel for him. They understand a lot at that age, ou just have to explain it in terms he will understand. And be consistent with him.

As for punishment you can remove him from the area/people he is biting, or sit him down and tell him he can get up when he is ready to be nice to his "friends" and can play gently. But again be consistent with it. Consistency is the biggest part of it.

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