October 13, 2016

When You Have a Biter

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The past month has been a very trying month for our little family and I felt compelled to share our story. It’s likely not the side of a story you usually see, so I thought it may help other moms. You see, my darling, sweet Miss H is a biter. You typically hear the stories about toddlers who bite, leave nasty marks and are malicious with their biting – but this isn’t my girl. I wanted to share my side of the story as a mom of a biter since we typically hear the other side.

This has been tugging at my heart for the past month because as a mom it makes me so sad and frustrated that my child is hurting others. She does it because it’s her way of reacting to an unknown environment and almost like a fight or flight trigger. She does great at school and at church. Recently we’ve introduced a few new activities to our schedule where they are inconsistent with how often we go and the people she doesn’t see on a regular basis. It’s hard for me to understand why this is happening consistently and of course VERY hard for me to relax and enjoy my adult time with the fear of having the conversation when I pick her up.

As a mom, when it happens, there is wave of emotion coming over me – fear, anger, concern, disappointment all in a matter of seconds. You are looking at this little person who is looking at you and what you say goes in one ear and right out the other. Punishment doesn’t seem to always help the situation and it’s down right frustrating.

Earlier this week, we attended one of our new activities that is going to be in rotation for the next few weeks. Luckily, I knew the ladies in the room and told them exactly what was going on and they were there to help. She attempted, but they were able to diffuse the situation. That open communication really helped with the ladies who worked with her and it gave me a little bit of peace of mind knowing our action plan incase it happened.

To be honest, this week has been really rough. I had an epic melt down on our way home the other day because it is physically exhausting to be continually being worried about your child potentially harming anyone. I almost quit all of my extra curricular activities this week and decided that bunker life was the life for me. Then my sweet husband and friends encouraged me to just keep swimming. This season of life is hard and when she’s ready, she’ll stop. With that, here are some things we’re working on in hopes that this phase passes through a little bit quicker.

Be Upfront With Any New Caregivers 

Explain the situation. The more they know the better they can help in a situation when you are not there. If it needs to be escalated ask them to come get you immediately.

 

Immediate Discipline

Whatever that may be in your house, reprimand and be consistent. For us, it is 1 timeout and a warning. If she acts out again, we leave the activity we are at. If you need to take way toys or iPads to get your point across, we do that too.
 

Acknowledge the Bitee

In our case, anytime we are close to the situation, we make a very big deal about the child Miss H just came in contact with. We ask if they are okay showing empathy, talk to the parent to insure their child is okay and have Miss H apologize (then move directly into timeout).
 

Books

I just picked up Teeth are Not For Biting and No Biting! in the hopes that continuing the conversation will help.
 

Continue the Conversation

Everyone has told me it’s just a phase and she will snap out of it. Until then, we will make it a top priority in the house and continue to talk about biting and the repercussions of it.

 
My thought is, if any other mom reads this who is in the same boat, know you’re not alone. Be consistent. Be assertive and know that you’re a good mom and this too shall pass.
Hopefully sooner than later!
 
Any moms out there go through this? Any thing that worked well for you?

10 responses to “When You Have a Biter”

  1. Hilary says:

    Yes! Beckett was a biter too – to the point where we had to switch daycare centers for a month to get him to stop. We eventually had to move him up to the 3 year old room at school (when he was barely 2) because for him it was an environment thing. He hasn't bitten since. It's so frustrating when they do it! For us, he was doing it only at school, so I couldn't do anything about it (like immediate discipline or focusing on the bitee – and the daycare wouldn't even tell me who he bit). It was SUCH a stressful time and it's finally over (I hope!). I hope your light at the end of the tunnel is coming up soon!

  2. Ronda Ross says:

    Neavile was a bitter as a toddler. It's a bit more complicated because it was a "fight or flight" thing for him and while yes he grew out of biting he took to other actions like throwing a toy, crying extremely loud and many other things. At one point I worried it was my parenting like maybe I wasn't disaplining him correctly or maybe to harshly. He was such a happy kid but as he got older I felt like maybe it was an scared or angry issue. He would react bad to change or new people or uncomfortable situations and like I said as he got older the biting stopped however actions to those emotions still happened just differently. After tons of reading and trying different outlets we have finally found 3 ways that will calm him when the "fight or flight" feeling sets in. He is 10 and it still does. I have no idea why nor does his doctor. In short her biting is probably just the phase like most kids have however, when she gets to that point not only explaining that touching out of anger, fear or frustration is not a good idea it also helps to give her other options that might be a better reaction to he feeling. Like singing when she gets upset, holding her favorite teddy and hugging tight or simply clutching her hands together and say a little prayer. Sometime redirecting them to more appropriate actions while having those feelings is a really great way to help them understand the feeling they are having and learning a little control. She's young so she won't understand fully what you're doing while redirecting her action but she will eventually start to redirect from biting to a more appropriate action when upset.

    Sorry I typed this really fast I hope this came out correctly.

    • admin says:

      No this was SO helpful thank you. Good ideas to try. We're working a key word for her to step away with at the moment – apparently Chill Pill is the word we've chosen. Let's hope it works! Thank you for sharing – us moms have to stick together!

  3. Ronda Ross says:

    My pleasure. I enjoy sharing my experiences. Both of my boys have been two completely different journeys it's almost crazy.

    Key word note….we use those too in our house with both boys and they seem to work really well for us. However, it works well for those that understand to say the word so while it is a great way to let a child know to "chill" as an adult who understands to use that word it becomes not as effective for the three year old who is about to get bit when everyone's heads are turned. That was my biggest struggle with Key word but it is very successful in my home or with other adults. Our word is "wooosaaaaa" lol

  4. I haven't dealt with either of mine biting but they have been bitten. The mom freaked out and kept apologizing. I just told her that they are kids and learning how to handle situations. Miss H is learning her way through it and you are doing an amazing job as a mom. You've got this!

  5. Oh Jen! I am so sorry! Natalie bites too! But hers are so strange and I wish it was one of those explicable things that she does, but it's generally when she is playing puppy (because our dog Gemma is a nipper – insert monkey covering eyes emoji here). It's mortifying. I know she'll get over it and (luckily) she hasn't actually hurt anyone yet. She was the bitee once as well but I just chalked that up to two little girls who spend the majority of their time together in daycare who are basically sisters. They aren't always going to get along and they are going to have fights like my sisters and I did! Hang in there Mama!

  6. cancersucks says:

    Hang in there! You're doing great, mama. My youngest was a biter. I had him be a shark for Halloween when he was 2! But that's a difference between a youngest and oldest in the family! I know it doesn't seem like it but she will grow out of it….trying to emphasize "use your words" or if she's not very vocal helping her to be able to use baby signs or words more will help. There's a lot of good books about your emotions for little ones and there's the Disney movie Inside Out. Most preschool teachers and child educators aren't as big on trying to make the child say I'm sorry more having her do something positive to the child that was bite-a hug, share a toy, etc because she probably doesn't really understand what that means that young. And yes if you're there definitely give all your attention to the child that was bit before she gets any attention at all. I have that book teeth for biting memorized if it helps -my youngest is now 11 and amazing sweet boy. You can private message me on Instagram anytime if you need more help. Best!

  7. I hate that you are dealing with this. We've never really had anything to worry about with Connor. Now if we could get him to eat a veggie and sleep all night we would be golden. Hugs, Mama!

  8. Julie says:

    Has she been bitten before? If it were to happen to her, she may be like "I don't like that" and you can use that as a learning tool too.

  9. I'm sorry you're having to deal with biting. You're doing all the right things with Hattie and I'm reminded of my favorite parenting advice… no phase lasts forever. We've had plenty of hard moments – complete meltdowns at church nursery drop off, huge fits anytime we had to leave something fun, protesting bedtime, etc. Each phase seemed so hard and draining on all of us at the time and then we'd just wake up one day and realize the phase was behind us. So keep doing what you're doing and talking things through with Hattie and the biting will be nonissue.

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