When my first child was a toddler he was bitten by another toddler. I was so upset but also thankful that I was doing something right as a mother since my child was the victim and not the biter. Fast forward a few years to my second child and I realized I was completely wrong. My daughter is quiet and calm until she gets mad. One day, before she could even walk, my son took her toy. She crawled over, pulled him down by the hair and delivered a powerful bite to his shoulder. We were shocked, and quickly realized we had a biter on our hands.
We tried our best to make her stop biting her brother, but had little success. Time out didn’t phase her, stern warnings were ignored. Luckily, for a while, we didn’t have any incidents at playdates or in public spaces. That all changed when she started the twos class at preschool. There’s nothing that can humble a parent faster than a phone call from a teacher saying your child “is doing great, BUT she did bite someone today.”
It’s one thing when your kids bite each other, but biting other kids is an even bigger problem. I was so embarrassed. And I felt even worse because I had silently judged the parents of other kids who bit.
We tried harder than ever to curtail any biting. We checked out books about biting from the library. We tried to explain how to verbalize feelings instead of biting. I thought we were making progress until she bit another friend at preschool. The bite happened the same way as the first. Someone took her book during circle time and she bit them.
At this point, I was mortified. A few friends suggested biting her back. Since she never bit me, I never considered it an option, but one day she was biting her brother nonstop. Nothing was stopping her, so leaned over and gave her a quick chomp on the arm. It didn’t leave a mark, but she was shocked, as was my husband. I explained other moms said it was a tried and true method and it would cure our sweet girl of her biting habit.
I was wrong.
I wish I could give you a truly effective way to make your kid stop biting, but unfortunately, I cannot. According to the American Psychological Association, biting is normal behavior for children under three. Most bites occur because kids can’t verbalize their feelings. Biting is a way for them to communicate their frustration and/or anger. I noticed that as my daughter’s verbal skills have developed, she is biting less. We discussed what to do and say if someone takes her book or toy at school. So far we haven’t had any more incidents at school. Although she did try to bite me today because I wouldn’t let her run free in a parking lot.
Mama, if your child is also the class biter, know you’re not alone. It’s hard, frustrating, and embarrassing, but like all toddler issues, just know your baby won’t bite forever.