My 2 year old son (a twin) has been biting other children since he was about 18 months old. His behavior flares up, and then disappears at random stages; and we're in the midst of a biting crisis. In the last week, he's bitten a few children in similar social situations; mostly in public play areas like parks, and playrooms where he must deal with unfamiliar kids.
We have tried time outs, and scolding and it is not working. We also need some methods that can be shared among caregivers and family..and applied consistently. His twin sister bites, but not nearly at the same frequency or intensity. Her verbal skills are much better and she has learned how to say. "No", and is more responsive to time outs and harsh scolding.
He'll be starting day care / pre-school soon and we really need this to stop... I don't want to be sued by an angry parent.
From: cheesehead -in-recovery, Needham, Ma
1. Forget time-out with a child this age; way too young. When it appears to be working with one of your twins, it's just a coincidence.
2. Forget scolding. A child can't hear your words (he's too frustrated and wound up) and all he hears is your tone of voice which he accurately hears as angry and frustrates him even more. Think of his biting as a cry for help: "I'm out of control, I don't know what to do! Please help me!" When you scold, his interpretation is, "Mom/dad doesn't understand, they can't help me, I'm on my own, OH NO, now what?!"
3. Never say, ``You`re a bad boy." Say instead, Biting is bad." That tells him you don't like the behavior, not that you don't like him.
Not surprisingly, Cheesehead, biting is a subject that terrifies parents of both biters and bitees; we all know our child could be on either side of the equation on any given day. You're right to want a strategy that can be applied consistently by all caregivers.
The solution starts with understanding why biting happens: Almost always it's about not having the words to express very strongly-held feelings, especially frustration. ("You want to play with this toy now? When I'm having so much fun doing what I'm doing?! No way!").
That's the single most likely reason a child bites initially. (Another common reason: teething. It just feels good to chomp down -- hard! -- on something.)
The most likely reason it continues (and I'm quoting from an earlier posting.)
"is because parents over-react, prompting the child to do it again and again, to see what will happen the next time, and the next. This coincides with two developmental milestones, the ability to notice cause-and-effect stage ("If I do this, what happens? Oh! What about if I do this? What about if I do it again? Does mom do the same thing again? Huh! What about now?!" ) and the need to feel some power in the world ("Wow! This sure gets a reaction from mom, doesn't it?!")."
You can't ignore biting , it's an anti-social behavior that will get your child (if not you, as you worry!) into all kinds of trouble.
If you can, anticipate when he's getting frustrated enough that he might want to bit. Identify and label his feelings for him: "You like playing with that truck! You don't want John to have a turn yet, you're not ready, are you? Let's play one more 'vroom vroom' and then it will be John's turn."
Can you tell John, it will be his turn soon?" If possible, guide him to finish the play and then give John a turn. Or
Other strategies: Be firm and try to be ahead of the action by diverting him when you see where this might be heading by warning him: "No biting!"
Never bite your child back.
If they don't already have it, treat your caregivers to this book: "No Biting, Policy and practice for toddler programs, 2nd edition," by Gretchen Kinnell. You'll find it helpful, too. A board book for toddlers: "Teeth are not for biting." Harvey Karp has a helpful section on biting in "The Happiest Toddler on the Block."
The author is solely responsible for the content.