Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Daily Grind: Biting...

Biting.  I know.  I can't believe it myself.  It started a few weeks ago actually.  I was looking up something on the computer when I heard the most horrific catterwalling from the living room.  Sissy came running into where I was sitting, barely able to breathe and scream at the same time.  She was rubbing her arm and screamed "He!!  Bit!!  Me!!"  I looked at her arm and just about came unglued.  There on her arm was the tell-tale teeth marks with a horrible purple and red bruise rising to the surface of her skin.  I immediately came into the living and told Boo-Boo that "we do not bite anything but food" and then I did what I thought I'd never do and I bit him on the arm in the same place he bit his sister.  She was crying, he was crying and I was crying.  

How did this happen?  When did biting back become discipline?  I immediately sent my husband a text telling him what happened.  Then I called my friend Tara.  Of whom I almost always ask parenting questions.  This makes sense to me since we are pretty much long-long sisters and parent very similarly.  Her children are a few years older than mine, so of course in my mind, she's an expert.  (Thanks Tara!)

The conversation went pretty much like this:

"hey, what's going on?  hope you're okay?"

"we're fine. just on the computer, catching up on Facebook."

"you're stalking again?"  we both laugh.

"I have a problem..."

"okay? what?"

"Boo-Boo bit Sissy and I bit Boo-Boo.  Now I feel horrible.  Have you dealt with this too?"

"yes...I did the same thing..."

We talked some and I came to the realization this is something most parents do.  I asked Momma about it and she said neither my brother nor I were "biters" so she never really had to deal with it.  However, my cousin bit me and she said my aunt would bite him back.  This was 30+ years ago.  

Again, I ask, when did this become a good idea?  

I rationalized:  Boo-Boo needed to understand the pain he inflicted on his sister.  I didn't want to wait until later when my husband got home from work.  If I did that, then Boo-Boo wouldn't understand what I was talking about.  Remember, he's 2 years old.  He's the youngest and he is trying very hard to speak clearly.  We don't understand a lot of what he says and I think he gets very irritated when he can't communicate his feelings or problems.  I tried explaining to Boo-Boo that it's not okay to bite.  We use our teeth to eat food.  We do not use our teeth to hurt others.  The root of the problem?  There was a toy they both wanted and Sissy had taken it from Boo-Boo.  He's reaction?  To bite her.  

Later I talked to Sissy and explained to her that while it's not okay for Boo-Boo to bite her.  It's also not okay for her to take things from her brother.  She's 4 years old and she understands what it's like when people take things from her when she wants to play with them.  She understood, but they are brother and sister and fight like cats and dogs over silly things.  I know it will get better.  I'm just waiting for the day, it might be 20 years from now, but it will come.  

In the mean time, has anyone else had to deal with biting children?  I'm curious to know how you handled it and what advice you have to offer.

By the way, the biting back didn't work for me.  He bit her again today...


Christina said...

Hey, sorry you had such a bad day!!! My kids never had much of a biting problem but I've heard SEVERAL people say biting back is the best thing to do!!! Maybe Daddy needs to bite him next!!! LOL

Ashley said...

No real advise as I haven't dealth with much biting. Just FYI if the biting cousin is my husband then it's a lifelong problem. He still play-bites me all the time. I can't stand it! So momma biting back definately didn't work!

Candi said...

Ashley, it was Denver :)

Mandy's Life After 30 said...

Wow, I commend you for having the courage to bite your own son. I don't think I could do it. And I didn't realize that it was the right thing to do although I see the logic in it.

To my knowledge Vivian has been the recipient (not the giver) of two bites in the last year. So I've been on the emotional/angry side of having my child get bitten, not bite another child. But I know it's hard to be on both sides and it must be difficult to have both your children affected by it.

If I were you, I'd call the pediatrician or nurse - ask for their advice. Then maybe you could show your son a video on emotions - angry, sad, happy etc. and how to deal with it. I know Sesame Street has a few good ones.

Good luck, things will be better! Two is such a tough age, believe me I know!!!!

Renee said...

My now 14 yr old daughter suddenly woke up one day and became a biter. She was about 2 yrs old at the time and her victim was her older (now 16) sister.

I remember how horrified I was that she was a BITER! It seemed so much worse to me (at least in my memory) than any other discipline issue we had ever had. Of course, in hindsight, it's not really worse than the first time a child lies or hits their sibling or even yells out a defiant "No!" to their Mama. In other words, it doesn't make them a rebellious and hopeless child. But it is embarrassing and painful for the victim.

We tried everything and I do mean everything - I did even bite her back. Nothing worked. What finally did work was her victime-sister got fed up one day and bit her back herself. Now, I am not advocating that approach...her sister did NOT have permission to do that. But something about that happening made her NEVER bite again.

I would say,its just like anything else with a toddler. It requires consistent disapproval on your part and some type of immediate consequence easily understood by your toddler. Over and over again; as long as it takes.

Hang in there. I wish there were easy solutions to issues like this. God bless. You seem like a very good mother and I really enjoy your "real" blog.

Cousin Brenda said...

I went through this problem with my oldest child. She started probably about the same age. I tried everthing I could think of and what others recommended. As a last resort and urging from my mother(imagine that), I ended up biting her back two times. That cinched it for her. She stopped and has never bitten anyone again.

I found in our case it was a defense mechanism. She would get frustrated when others were not as nice to her as she thought they should be or did not share. She did try to work things out but as her last resort she would bite. It was not out of meanness but pure frustration.

Carrie said...

Biting is upsetting to see but I think underneath it is frustration, especially for a preverbal child. Especially for a preverbal boy child. LOL. Since he's not able to express his frustration and anger at his sister in an appropriate way, he bites.

Incidentally I haven't had a biter but *I* bit my cousin once as a child. I'm not an ax murderer or anything so I guess the little twerp got what was coming to him. LOL Kidding of course.

I would say to encourage him to *tell* his sister when he's angry, that it's OK to be angry (even Jesus got angry) but we cannot bite or hit sister. Maybe he could get a black crayon and draw an angry picture instead? Or hit a pillow?

As with most things, it's a phase and will get better when he can express himself better.


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