Tips to help teach your son not to bite

Sometimes no matter how many times they've been asked to stop, punished, or otherwise disciplined, little boys will not stop expressing themselves really aggressively! What are some of your best tips to get these little chompers to scale it back to a light nibble?

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19  Answers

29 39

I have three boys and when each of them were young, they went through a biting phase! What a painful phase to go through! With my oldest child who did this, we tried several different techniques that didn't work until one day he bit me and I immediatly went to get the pepper shaker and I put a little pepper in his mouth. He hated it! He only bit a few more times before he got the point that every time he bites, I will put a dash of pepper in his mouth. Needless, to say, when my younger two boys went through that phase, it didn't last very long!

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20 24

Good for you I think this would also work more parents need to be like us :) I never did this but I believe that this would work you can't be a softy when it comes to some stuff or your child will just walk all over you when they get older

29 39

Thanks Allie! I appreciate your support!

1 27

Thanks heaps for this suggestion! Will give it a birl as my 18mth old son is doing my head in atm!

2 7

I really wish i would have read this a few hours ago as my son bit my daughter and i had no clue on how to handle it he's only 18 months old so a time out is pointless at the moment will deffo be trying the pepper. Thank you .

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4 0

I don't feel that biting back is the right approach. I have twin boys (almost 2 yrs old) and one of them started biting the other, mostly I feel because he wanted to see his brother's reaction and need for attention. My husband and I were able to stop it with he following steps:
1. Immediately comfort, hold, and give lots of good attention to the bitten boy (let the biter watch it) telling the victim :) that I know how much it hurts. Hug some more and kiss the ouwee.
2. In a mean time, turn to the biter and without raising a voice, but in a very stern tone, look him straight in the eyes and say (and sign the "pain sign" if you sign with your kids): "Biting hurts. Ouch. We don't bite. No-No!".
3. Then turn back to the bitten boy and comfort him some more, then HERE IS THE KEY remove him from the biter (take him out the room or go to a different part of the room), so the biter feels the pain of not being able to play with his brother and doesn't get good attention from the parents.

We had to do this lots and lots of times, but eventually the biting stopped. Good luck!

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23 3

This is definately the right approach i am a qualified childcare worker and we learn to do exactly this! I feel if you bite the child which would never b a option for me you arnt setting the right example you r doing the same behaviour that u are trying to stop them doing!! So u need to comfort the victim and give them all your attention!!

4 0

Thanks, Kylie! I appreciate it. I guess every kid is different - while one method works for one, it might not for the other. Maybe some parents are at the end of their ropes with their biters and the "soft" approach hasn't worked - who knows. I guess, I'm of the same thought processs - I need to model right behavior (not that I shine in this area all the time :), for from it, but I'm trying.). While biting back might get you results faster, I'm thinking farther ahead when they are older. I'm not going to punch my kid if he punches another child or me. So I want to teach them compassion early on and learn to listen and understand from my words. I get that I child needs to learn consequences, but violence for violence is just not my school of thought. I'm no child-raising expert (these twins are my first kids), who knows what the future holds, some might say I'm raising pansies, but I'd rather not raise reactive kids or worse, bullies, if this is my choice.

0 2

This is such a better approach than biting back! And of course you cannot punch your child if he punches someone else... You're just showing the child that the bigger biter wins and soon enough, that child will be bigger than another kid and will remember that might makes right. Delete

32 5

it might be a better approach but it is not effective! I have b/g twins,twice I have placed my son and daughter in a little care cart and he bites her everytime I place him in there with her. I tell him no,I comfort her and tell him "no we don't bite" sternly. it does not effect him one bit. And he is my biter. He does it when he gets angry with anyone. There has to be a better approach. Im going to keep reading the other posts so I can see if there is a tip that would work for me that would be effective.

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33 26

I didn't have this problem with my son. Although he did try and bite once or twice and he's 3 years old now. I do NOT agree with biting them back. My step sons mother used to bite my step son back every time he and his little brother would have a "biting match". They would bite eachother so much more and my step son would come to our home with bite marks all over his body. There is a better way to teach your child not to bite. Biting them back just doesn't do much good, IMO. I agree with someone on the post with the pepper idea or a little soap.

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1 2

i just bit his fingers tips not hard.. but yea i saw the pepper idea i might have to try that to se if it works for him...

2 9

Kids aim to please parents. If your kid bites, you have to let them know it's wrong and how it makes you feel when they bite. My son is two and he doesn't say many words. Sometimes I feel like he doesn't understand me, so I get over expressive with my face. If I tell him that when he bites it makes them sad and me sad I make a really over dramatic sad face. He gets time out and has to say sorry. Never bite your kids. What kind of message does that send them? How could anyone do anything to intenionally cause their kids pain is beyond me. Most kids will grow out of that stage anyway.

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79 36

Be there! Be ready, when they go through this stage it's easier to just 'be around' watching and waiting to pounce yourself- all you have to do is wait for that look in his eye and be ready to jump your hand in between the mouth and the 'victim' and say "biting hurts, darling- I cant let you hurt the baby" Offer a toy or something else of interest- change the subject.... a quick "WHATS THAT, Jason??" of "LOOK!" if you're too far away to get there in time! Explain to them (even if you think they don't understand) that if they want to play with their friends they must be nice to them, or you'll just have to both go home- if it happens again- go home. If you're too late and a biting has taken place, go to comfort the victim first- apologise for your son to them. After the soothing is done, tell him that Sammi is sore from the bite he gave her, "what can you do to make it better" Hopefully he doesn't go up to her and bite her again!! But at least this time you will be closer and see it coming!! :)

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2 5

My son was a biter for a few weeks in daycare. He only ever bit his friends, two twin girls who he actually really liked. I found out that after he would bite, his teacher would have him hold ice on the girls' owies and take care of them as a sort of forced apology. My son, apparently, really enjoyed his punishment, so I asked his teacher to give him a time-out and no attention instead. For my son, it was an attention-seeking behavior, so once the attention was gone so was the biting. I do not agree with the biting-back method, even if it does work for some children. I think it sends the wrong message to the children. Child psychologists will tell you that children do not understand or process these punishments in the same way that adults would.
On another note, I noticed that several commenters were writing about putting pepper in their child's mouth. I caution these people to look into the recent story of the Alaskan mother who put hot sauce in her adoptive son's mouth as punishment. She has been brought into the courts over child abuse charges and the Russian government is trying to take her son back from her. Please just be aware that these methods might not be taken as innocently as they are intended.

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67 26

My little man, 3 tomorrow, only bit a friend once, and it was BAD. Then his friend bit him back a few days later, BAD. They were both black and blue for a week from the bites. So he never bit any of his friends again. Then recently he started biting me and his daddy during play. So what I started doing is putting my hand over his mouth gently, between me and whatever part he was trying to bite (just recently my left shoulder). I then tell him "No sir! We do NOT bite!" very sternly and gently push his face away with my hand still over his mouth. I only had to do it the once, when he bit my shoulder, and it has worked. He hasn't tried to bite since. He was biting us on a daily basis during play. (it's the only time he bites). He cried when I did it because he realized I wasn't okay with it. He is an eager to please, advanced child, so he is super sensitive to mood changes and things like that. So far it has worked better than biting back or other methods. He hasn't tried to bite us since sunday week. So nearly two weeks? Which is nice because he has teeth like a little wolf cub!

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7 17

I didn't have too big a problem with my little one - he did it once or twice and I bit him back and then he stopped. Its really important how one deals with it, as my sister's little one has been biting my son, and my sister does not deal with it effectively enough so my son thought it was okay and then bit me. So I bit him back. And I let my sister know that the next time her daughter bites him I am going to bite her back as otherwise my son is also going to start doing it as he sees there is nothing being done about it so its okay.

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210 39

I bit our son back when he bit me - we had tried EVERTHING we could think of first including 'NO', time out etc etc, but nothing owrked, so I warned him and when he still carried on biting, I carried out the threat and bit him back. He vried and went to dad for comfort, but didn't get any right away and was told that he mustn't bit people. He did get a cuddle from both his dad and me after a couple of minutes. He has not bitten anyone since.

11 18

We bit our daughter back when she did it, only took two times if I recall and she never bit anyone ever again.

3 8

this is exactly what happened to me! my sister in law's daughter bites my daughter and leaves scars. like serious scars. and she doesn't do anything. and the last time it happened she just put her to bed with a movie on. NOT A PUNISHMENT!!! I firmly believe in spanking, my daughter learns very well from that, and she will not repeat something if I spank her once for it. but if my daughter bit another child, I would not just let her watch a movie. if it ever happens again I'm going to take matters into my own hands because she needs to learn that it is NOT okay!!!

12 27

Spanking is a slippery slope that many well-meaning parents find themselves on. As a parent educator AND a mother, I can tell you that neither you nor your sister in law are handling this in the right way. Hurting a child to get them to comply is not an answer and neither is rewarding the behavior with a movie. If you don't want your daughter to hurt someone else why would you hurt HER? That is very much sending your child a mixed message that if someone isn't doing what you want that it is OK to hit. Spanking doesn't teach her the behavior that you want. I guarantee you that your daughter is learning something from the spanking, but it's not the lesson you intended. Eventually she will be too old to spank and what will you do then? It is NOT ok for your sister in-law's daughter to bite and you should absolutely address it with her mother. Have you ever asked her why she puts her to bed with a movie? Does she not know what else to do? Does she think she's helping the situation by removing her daughter from the situation? If the movie were not a part of it this would be an acceptable response but the movie ends up rewarding bad behavior. Before you decide to take things into your own hands, find out what your sister in-law is thinking. Spanking or biting someone else's child is no more acceptable than the behavior you are trying to get rid of.

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1 27

Repremand them, bite them back on same spot they bit other child, move away from area, pay attention, comfort, cuddle other child. My 18 mth old son is currently doing this and is driving me insane! Does anyone have any further ideas?

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5 16

I think babies start to bit at early age and they use it as a mechanism of defense. We can teach them there are other ways how to handle things differently from their aggressive behavior. I usually tell my baby, she is 2 years and 6 months, "don't bit, it is not ok. Tell me if someone is hurting you or taking your things mommy is going to help you", I look at her eyes directly firmly and ask her attention. It has worked. Usually these biting situations happen when a toy is taken from them by another baby or they feel their territory has been invaded.

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38 0

One of my 22 months old twin boys is much more agressive then the other. He has only bitten us once (my husband). My husband was so shocked he set him right down pretty fast and I think this equally shocked my son!!! He has not tried it since then, but my husband and I are much more aware of it now and watch his moods. If he is tired and frustrated, we def. keep an extra eye on him, and stop him/distract him if we think he is even thinking about it.

So far so good!

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34 24

I have twin girls and when they were that age, they only bit a few times because I immediately bit them back. I didn't leave any long term marks or bruises, but I bit hard enough for them to know it hurts and it is a no no.

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0 2

So many parents think that biting back is the right response but very young children don't reason the same way adults do, they don't always understand equal and opposite reactions. When I was nursing, my son got teeth and he bit me a few times. I read a suggestion that worked wonders; gently push the baby INTO the bite and for a split second his nose is covered and he has to let go of the bite to breathe. I've also used that technique on my toddlers and it worked great. It's just hard to remember not to pull away, that hurts more than a bite!

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3 34

I bit my son back and taught him that it is not okay to bite. It worked! That was with my oldest. I am having problems with my youngest at the moment, but we think he is biting because of his slow development. We are still working on the reasoning.

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41 63

Children bite because they are over stimulated. You should cut back on activities and have more quite time. both of my girls bit at some point. I would simply tell them not to bite and them have some quiet time. It's nothing to get upset about it simply means your child can't handle all the activity and this is their way of coping.

3 34

I would love to cut back on activities, but these activities are therapy for his development everyday of the week.

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1 2

my son bites i got him to stop biting but the only time he bites now is if hes mad or ur taking something from him like a toy hes playing with. and hes got introuble liike 4 times aschool bout it.. i tried biting him back but it doesnt work.. any ideas

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1 2

so its like its his defense

0 5

I read a book by a child psychologist who believes that children have a number of bites in them that they need to get out :-D. She said they bite from frustration and that you should give them something to bite on and get it out e.g. Foam rubber (strong type that will not come off in his mouth) cloth, a piece of leather etc. Encourage him by saying that you understand how he feels and tell him to bite the chosen prop. Give it a try.

1 2

thanks i might have to try that..

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62 18

My first son only ever bit his little brother (18months apart), I'd reiterate "cuddle him, he'll cuddle you, but if you bite him one day he'll bite you back". which eventually happened, to his surprise! Which leads me to think that under 3 year olds need "experiences" more than "words" to understand. I bit him a couple of times to "shock" him but that just didn't work. So my toddler is known to bite, but in his defence - only in retaliation - in times of stress (having a toy snatched or injustice done). I can intervene by separating or encourage to play with something else if the other child/ren aren't sharing. He will share his toys when asked nicely, so keep at it and impress the importance of manners being a two way street. Just keep an eye on the situation and say "uh-uh" and redirect the social interaction. It's our job to teach them how to socialise, we can't expect them to get it right every time, but we can help save bite marks by being alert. Also - totally agree to cuddle any victims, especially if it's not your child, it will shock your toddler to see you giving cuddles elsewhere, and they do like to please their mums.

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1 0

My daughter bit repeatedly! We tried everything! We even made her bite herself to see how it felt! They only thing that finally broke her was when we made her watch another child cry after she had bit them! We didn't let her look away! Then we informed her that she made them cry! It truly was the only thing that worked!

20 24

Girls bit too but honestly the only real way to stop it is by biting them back. Ya some parents might say that it is mean but it works. I am not saying to bit them as hard as you can but enough that they can feel it so they know that they are hearting other children when they do it.
Good luck

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20 24

I know people would say they didn't agree with bitting back and I don't mean bit them so hard that u leave a mark but just enough so they know what it feels like this method worked for both my kids and they never bit again. They parents that say oh you can't bit your brother because it makes him sad like seriously the bitter will not learn from this at all. But go ahead try the softy methods first and u will see it will not work.

29 39

Allie, I pressed a positive one on your comment! I hope this shows that I voted for your comment and agree with it! If it doesn't show that, please let me know!

11 17

Thank God someone brought this up. Our 23 month old Alexa went through a phase of biting only at daycare. She bit 3 kids in a week and each time the teachers only saw after. At the time she was 1 year. Because she had an advanced speech and understanding, I sat with her on a little chair next to her and told her in a stern voice that we do not bite. She looked at me and cried with her little hands folded over her chest. I then gave her a cuddle. We noticed that she only bit bigger boys than her and charged each time any of them came close. We were told the bigger boys usually go her play stuff and pushed her then with time she started biting. We did not what her to hurt other kids as Teachers didn't get to her on time so we kept her home for 2 weeks. She didn't bite anyone at home. We took her to another daycare with a lesser ratio of caregiver to child 1- 4 as opposed to 1-5. We explained to Teachers previous experience, she settled in a month without any bites at all and more relaxed What am I saying 1. Stress in kids present in diff ways one of them is biting. 2. Just like any human being removing/controlling the stress helps a lot with biting phase/coping mechanisms 3. Kids being little can't tell us when stressed so they scream, cry ,or throw tantrums 4. Biting can also happen without any related reason but just a phase as other moms show above. 5. Am unsure about biting back, there are times we have to be tough to get message across sometimes it's tough love.. Children will always know when mom loves them and disciplines and when mum neglects and does discipline or does not. Love is mostly felt rather than heard.

1 21

I agree - I did this with my eldest girl -- like you say not hard but enough so they know what it feels like. My 17 month old girl is now going through this and bit her back yesterday and so far today no biting !! Important to add though to make sure other siblings arent allowed to deal out the biting back as may not be as careful as we are !!

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1 17

Okay i am sorry if this is taken the wrong way but the first time my daughter bit i was strongly angry with her and took her away from the situation and explained we don't do that. the second time she did it, i bit her back, hard enough to pinch a little but nowhere near hard enough to leave a mark or bruise - she never did it again. I know this is the old school approach but i believe young children have to learn the consequences of what they do and how can they understand it hurst otherwise - probably get shouted at for child abuse now - wish i had thought of the pepper idea though that's great

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4 16

well with my daughter and my nephew, I got tired of whipping them, puttin them in time out, soI bit them back and they havent done it since!

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23 18

Whipping them? Please tell me you are not serious.

32 5

sounds like she is serious to me! it goes to show every child is different and there are still parents out there that still believe in whippin's. I mean, if time out doesn't work,what are we suppose to do as parents? Have a sit down with the child and talk it out? Not all children are people pleasers. Children love to see how far they can push you.And then there are those that do not want to make mommy and/or daddy mad. Some parents have expressions that can get a child's attention and then there are parents who can't unless they discipline them some how.And then there are children that can't seem to get it that they are wrong.

2 58

some people use the term "whipping": in reference to a normal spanking...it is a term that they grew up with. This term does not mean that they beat their children. To discipline your child/ren does not mean that you are an abusive parent. To discipline is to correct and teach. Each child is very different on how you can discipline them and have it make sense to them.

6 30

Agreed Jennifer

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