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Toddler biting - but only me. How do I show her it's wrong?

(17 Posts)
ScrambledSmegs Thu 23-Jun-11 09:47:07

My 16mo has recently started biting me, pretty hard. She attends nursery so may have picked it up there (I know she's been bitten once, but not badly). She hasn't bitten any of the other children to my knowledge, and the nursery is very good about telling me if there have been any incidences. In fact, I'm sure it's only me she bites.

She's very friendly and very loving towards me in particular, which makes me think she may be doing it as an over-enthusiastic display of affection. However, it hurts and I want her to stop! I've tried saying 'No!', moving her away from me, and letting her know that it hurt me by looking upset, holding the area she's bitten etc, but she just laughs as if it's part of a game. Obviously I don't want to upset her either, I just want to teach her that you don't bite.

All the literature and advice I've seen on the internet seems to be for children who bite out of anger and frustration, so not helpful. My HV was similarly clueless (although v busy so maybe misunderstood me). How can I show DD it's not funny or loving, it hurts and you shouldn't bite?

dolster Thu 23-Jun-11 10:00:41

I have a very similar problem! My 14 mo gets very 'over-playful' with me and when she's really excited she starts hitting my face (hard) and pinching (hard). It's not aggressive or as the result of frustration, it's pure playfulness. She normally get's upset when I tell her off but when I tell her off for this, she just grins and does it again. I've been very firm with her because I think it's important to have a zero tolerance policy towards any kind of hitting/pinching - I tell her 'No' firmly and walk away from her but it doesn't work at all! She's quite tactile with other children and I don't want her to start doing the same to them... At the moment she only does it to me and her dad when she's in a very playful mood but I feel I need to make sure she understands it's not on. So, I'd also appreciate any tips/advice!

ScrambledSmegs Thu 23-Jun-11 10:09:07

dolster Ah, yes mine pinches too! Unfortunately she does it when I'm not expecting it, makes me jump and of course that's hilarious angry. I've tried not reacting at all to the pinching (apart from saying no, obviously) and she's getting a bit bored of that. Maybe give it a try?

Re: biting. Maybe it's because I get upset that's means she keeps doing it? So, it's a reaction therefore it's good? Although tbh it's normally when we've been playing together for a while that it happens, as in - she's very happy and comes to give me a kiss but bites instead. Ach, this child-rearing lark is most confusing.

dolster Thu 23-Jun-11 10:43:44

It just seems so odd that my DD will get upset when I tell her off for anything else, but with this, it's like a game! I'm totally baffled by it! I kind of compare it to those wildlife programs you see on TV where baby lions/monkeys etc play-fight with their parents - she's really sees it as fun, even when I start telling her off. Maybe with other things she can kind of understand she's been naughty, but with this she just doesn't get it!? Yesterday, I really hurt myself while I was cleaning up after lunch (stubbed my toe...REALLY hurt!) and I made a real fuss and sat on the floor, grabbing at my feet. She looked quite worried and came over and gave me a cuddle which I thought was so sweet. BUt when I do the same thing when she's hit me or pinched me she just laughs and does it again! So confusing...

My main worry is that she starts doing it to other children as she's already a bit over-friendly for most children's liking!

katster37 Thu 23-Jun-11 13:07:32

I am having a similar problem, although DS (19mo) has never bitten me, but seems to do it to other children when he wants to show them affection. It seems he is giving them a kiss, and I really don't think he wants to hurt them, but obviously it doesns't go down well.

ScrambledSmegs Thu 23-Jun-11 15:21:42

katster37, I definitely think you're right about the 'kissing' thing. But how on earth do you get an excitable toddler to understand the difference between a kiss and a bite? And that one is nice and one isn't?

MamaChoo Thu 23-Jun-11 15:41:45

A bite hurts, a kiss does not. You know this, but does your toddler? I was given the advice to bite back, gently, once, saying, 'it hurts, its not nice for Mummy/people' and while some people will be horrfied by this, two things are true: 1. You do have to find a way to effectively convey that it really isnt nice to be bitten and 2. It completely worked. She has never bitten anyone again and i only bit hard enough to surprise, rather than hurt, her.

I accept i am now that mother who bit her toddler.

ScrambledSmegs Thu 23-Jun-11 18:42:50

MamaChoo, that's pretty interesting. Honestly it had never occurred to me to try that! How old was your DD when you did it?

I wonder if it works with the more, erm... robust toddlers? DD is very gung-ho and constantly surprises me with her ability to forget pain or injuries. Hmm... this may be part of the biting problem!

MamaChoo Fri 24-Jun-11 17:47:09

Sorry for late reply - she was 18 mos. You could describe her as robust, if you were being polite...

skybluepearl Fri 24-Jun-11 18:44:07

without warning time her out or put on nauthy step. have a no violence policy and explain the rules to her.

ScrambledSmegs Fri 24-Jun-11 23:05:58

Mamachoo I will probably give it a try, might do more than anything I've tried so far. Thanks. She broke the skin today, not acceptable sad.

skybluepearl thanks but she doesn't understand the concept of time out or a naughty step yet. She just thinks it's part of the game and laughs. Also, since she's being affectionate and not intentionally hurting me I don't want to punish her for showing me love, IYKWIM. Just get her to understand the difference between biting and kissing really.

cadifflur Fri 24-Jun-11 23:33:55

My mum suggested exactly the same as mamachoo - bite her back gently. DD has been a biter, bruised DS a few times. thankfully it seems to go as quickly as it starts, she hasn't done it for some time, but a little bite enough to make her realise it's not a game seemed to be enough.

ScrambledSmegs Sat 25-Jun-11 20:18:15

Thanks cadifflur. So, today I grasped the nettle and bit my child back. She looked so betrayed sad. However, so far no more biting. Fingers crossed it works, I definitely don't want to do that again!

Thanks for all the advice everyone, you've all been really helpful!

Happylander Sun 26-Jun-11 06:28:41

My friend's son bit and when she could guess what he was going to do she put his arm in front of where he was going to bite so effectively he bit himself. It works but obviously only if you know it's going to happen. Not sure that makes sense but been awake for hours!!

ScrambledSmegs Mon 27-Jun-11 12:27:11

Cor, Happylander, your friend must have the reflexes of a ninja! It sounds like a really effective anti-biting method.

However... over 24 hours since 'Operation Bite-back' and she hasn't nipped me once! Too soon to heave a sigh of relief? Maybe, but I'm feeling hopeful.

She did poo in the bath though, I think she's resorting to guerrilla tactics to get her own back grin.

ScrambledSmegs Mon 27-Jun-11 12:28:37

Hee hee, I initially typed [grim]. Which it was. Hope I never have to sieve the bath again [boak].

Happylander Tue 28-Jun-11 17:13:07

Yeah I was pretty impressed when I saw her do it. Glad you haven't been bitten back yet.

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