Biting was something that I naively assumed only other parents’ kids went through. My stepson wasn’t a biter, and neither was my now 3-year-old. I just supposed I was one of the lucky moms. That my kids somehow managed to bypass that habit, and I escaped having to deal with this behavior. Well, like with many other things related to motherhood, I was WRONG.
At just 19 months our daughter’s little personality already shines through. She is spunky and sassy and oh so adorable. She is the princess of the family and spoiled to the core. She is also a biter.
The biting started a few months back at home. She would use it as her way of expressing herself when things weren’t going her way. She’d bite her brother when he had a toy she wanted. She’d bite her dad when he tried to take her out of the tub at the end of bath time. She even went as far as biting our dog! While this was bad enough, we took some small consolation knowing she wasn’t biting at school…. yet.
Then the day came when I picked her up from daycare and got the dreaded biting note. It felt like day after day I would receive a note that she was either biting or getting bitten by another child. It’s gotten to a point where I literally hold my breath every afternoon when they bring her out to me…will there be a note today? The low point was a few weeks ago when she got THREE bite notices in one day…. not my proudest moment as a mom.
Of course, as a parent, my thoughts immediately go to wondering how did I mess up? What am I not providing? Am I not giving her enough attention? What am I doing (or not doing) that is causing this behavior? After all, the other kids weren’t biters.
It’s a Normal Part of Development
I immediately consulted every resource known to man. From my family and friends to our pediatrician and even countless google searches and internet forums. They all said the same thing. Biting is a common and normal part of childhood development that kids eventually grow out of. While I know deep down that is true, it doesn’t make it any easier to see bite marks on my son or get the countless reports from daycare.
While in reality, the biting has only been going on for a few months, it feels like a lifetime. It also feels like we have tried everything to make her stop. To name a few we have attempted time out, firmly saying “no biting,” loss of TV time, and even positive reinforcement.
The advice of my pediatrician is to avoid saying “no biting.” Instead, she suggested we try telling her that “teeth are used for eating food.” While I love my ped and the positive approach on this matter, this technique lasted about two days before I was pulling my hair out shouting, “STOP BITING YOUR BROTHER!”
My friends and online forums have told me to bite her back…the horror. I’m not proud to admit this, but in a moment of desperation, after she bit her brother hard enough to break the skin, I tried biting her back. My guess is I was too gentle because it didn’t even phase her. Even so, I felt terrible and decide that method was not for me.
What seems to work the best is distracting and redirecting. The problem with this method is that an adult is not always an arm’s reach away and able to stop her in the act and redirect the behavior.
I need a method that teaches her to stop on her own. Frankly, I’m at a loss.
Will it ever end?
While I do feel like things are starting to get better and she is biting less and less, it has not completely stopped. She still gets mad or frustrated and her first resort is usually to bite. We are working on it. I know this phase will eventually end; I just hope it is sooner rather than later.