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DD has bitten another child - temper is horrendous

(35 Posts)
TantrumsandBananas Mon 08-Oct-12 16:39:17

Will try not to dripfeed....

OK, so she was 3 a couple of weeks ago. I stopped taking her to toddler groups about last April, because her behaviour was awful. I literally had to stalk her round the room, we had pushing, hitting, pinching. In the end, I decided it was best just to stay away, thought perhaps she had outgrown them. Gave her the benefit of the doubt.

At home I do the naughty step, and also the naughty shelf - take a toy away and sit it up there - usually 24 hours. Tell her why its up there.

The ONLY times she has been smacked (open splayed hand on a nappied bottom) was when she bit me. It was more a short sharp shock type of smack, I did it because I had do it IYSWIM so that she would be shocked and realise that what she had done was very serious. Please don't flame me I do NOT hit my child. I have no idea where she has learn such violent behaviour.

So back to present. Since starting Playgroup September 3 mornings a week, I did think that she had improved, infact the leaders said she had, shouting and hitting had stopped, generally much better behaved. Described her as just very confident.

Personality wise etc. She is bright, she talks and acts alot older than she is. Needs constant stimulation. Rubbish at sleeping, Never sleeps a whole night, wants to get up and play. Soaks up information, alphabet, counting etc.

So, pick her up today, and she has bitten another child, really quite badly. The leader pulled me to one side to tell me. I asked should I speak to the other parent, and was told that No, they would deal with it. I feel awful. So when she was dragged off the other child, she headbutted one of the leaders and has a bruised forehead, and a grazed lip. Its not bad, my concern is the temper and loss of control that led her to bite someone and then injure herself.

I have talked to her this afternoon, and all she has said is "I wanted her to go away" - the child she bit.

I feel like I have tried everything, the good, the bad and the ugly so to speak. She is "that child" and I am just unsure what to do now.

Any advice? Anyone else been where I am and made it better?


TirednessKills Mon 08-Oct-12 18:57:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

TantrumsandBananas Mon 08-Oct-12 19:23:53

Gosh thanks for the reply. Going of to find the book you recommend. And reread your post. The part about hungry/tired makes alot of sense.

Just want to reiterate, I smacked her once,on her nappied bottom never before, never since. She had her teeth clamped into my boob at the time. It was meant as a shock to get her to let go, it had the desired effect. I do not think of it as a form of punishment.

You are quite right though, naughty step etc are not working and I love what you said at the end about finding out what she is reacting to.

I will do some research.

Thank you for taking the time to read my post. smile

TirednessKills Mon 08-Oct-12 19:48:14

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KateShmate Mon 08-Oct-12 20:05:22

Hi OP,
DD2 was exactly the same as this, she's just turned 5 and in some ways she is still the same, although no way near as bad.
It just seems that DD2 can't cope when someone else annoys her or won't leave her alone and so attacks - which is completely unreasonable, and we tried absolutely every technique to try and stop this.
Naughty step never worked for us as DD2 was far too stubborn to sit on the step and would genuinely be put back on the step 10000 times. I would bet money on the fact that this would be the first child that Supernanny couldn't use the naughty step technique with! grin
I also found that when she was angry, naughty steps were labelling her as 'naughty' and she would get even more angry etc etc.
We started 'time outs' and still do them now! They work perfectly for us.

We don't do the '3 strikes and you're out' thing with DD as sometimes an action warrants discipline without waiting for 2 more attacks! If she started irritating her sister then I would swiftly, but calmly, take her to one side (I always found it best to take her completely away from the situation so that she is listening properly) and warn her that if the behaviour continues (explain the bad behaviour) then she will be taken to her room for time out until she has calmed down. If she does it again then straight to time out.
When she was younger sometimes I had to physically restrain her upstairs to her bedroom because she would get so angry that she wouldn't go upstairs. But she is better now and will go up to calm down by herself. Anyway, I take her upstairs firmly, but calmly, explain that the behaviour is unacceptable and I won't have that in our house. I then say that she needs to stay here until she has calmed down and is ready to apologise - yes sometimes she will kick and scream, and a few times it has escalated into a full blown hysterical tantrum and I've had to hold her door closed for a few minutes until she has calmed down. But most times I just pull the door to and go downstairs - she comes down of her own accord a few minutes later. I ask whether she has calmed down and is ready to apologise - she does. Its then important to talk about why the behaviour was so unacceptable and that if it happens again she will be back in time out.

Even now, I also try not to ever actually call her naughty/bad because I think that its setting them up to fail really, instead I concentrate on when she is being good and explaining that 'mummy likes it when you are being a good girl'. With my DD I also have to explain things properly or she just doesn't listen - there would be no point me just shouting 'get to your bedroom' because you're never addressing the behaviour.

Hope this helps OP, it can be really hard sometimes but she will grow out of this!

TantrumsandBananas Tue 09-Oct-12 08:39:38

Thanks both of you, had horrendous night, up from 12 til 5 with hitting screaming etc, thats her not me BTW! But I do wonder if thats a follow on from yesterday.

So, this morning, when she woke up, I told her "Good Morning! Its a new day, lets start all over again, and forget all about yesterday". This seems to have jollied her up was very smiley about that!

Going to do some research today, reread both posts. I want to put an action plan in place.

Lots of love to you and thank you.

Kleinzeit Tue 09-Oct-12 09:15:03

I had similar issues with my DS and was going to post something similar to TirednessKills but she said it so much better! I used “Explosive Child” too, found it worked well for us. My DS was given an ASC diagnosis aged 6, and things gradually improved with ups and downs. He’s 14 now, doing very well academically and volunteers at a youth club for kids with social difficulties – he went there himself when he was younger and when the kids have problems he says wisely “I used to be like that” smile

One extra thought – no harm in going along to your GP, describe the issues you’re having and ask to be referred for an assessment. It can be worth starting the process early because there’s quite a waiting list and to be honest life improved a lot for DS (and for us!) after he was diagnosed. I had a much better handle on his needs and abilities, and he got support at school so he could socialise more safely and happily with the other kids. Not saying your DD does have those kind of issues, it might just turn out to be a phase she’ll outgrow, but an assessment could pin down whatever it is that she’s struggling with.

Anyway you sound like a great Mum and your DD is lucky she has you in her corner!

TantrumsandBananas Tue 09-Oct-12 09:29:31

Kleinziet thank you so much - your post made me cry! I will take what you have said onboard.

Going to positive and try and find a way through this!

Nancyclancy Tue 09-Oct-12 11:13:39

I agree with taking her to your GP, so you can start to rule things out. Also my friends ds used to have real anger issues and had trouble calming himself down. She used to take him to see a Cranial Osteopath and the difference was incredible. I couldn't tell you what the CO did but it seemed to work.

Hope you get to the bottom of it!

horsebiscuit Tue 09-Oct-12 11:22:01

There are also some good picture books on Amazon for reading with your DD in a calm moment, called 'Hands are not for Hitting', I think there is another in the series called 'Teeth are not for biting'. They are quite sweet and talk about other good things to do with your hands or teeth instead. I found the refrain quite good to sing with DD1 if she seemed about to hit out! The play puppets idea to show good and unacceptable behaviour is a great idea too. We used to do that with teddies- "teddy is cross, what should he do? Big stomps! Etc etc".
Good luck, it can be wearing I know. My DD1 was a nightmare when tired or hungry...

Oblomov Tue 09-Oct-12 11:24:56

watching with interest.

MaBaya Tue 09-Oct-12 11:31:06

You are not alone. My DS was horrendous at that age. We had to leave sevearal toddler groups and I dreaded picking him up from nursery sometimes, to be told AFAIN that he had bitten or hit. He did turn out to have ASD, and as a pp said, I am not for a minute suggesting that your DD does, but his hitting was borne out of frustration at not being able to expres his feelings properly.

Like your DD, he was jighly verbal and intelligent, so it wasnt apparent that he had these problems with emotional regulation, recognising negative emotions and expressing them in non violent ways - skills which most children begin to learn at about this age.

I think it might be worth exploring some options for support. Most councils have parent support workers who will out you in touch with local parenting classes. You may not need them, but I explored them as a first option, just to feel like I was using discipline, consequences and rewards etc systemtically and with support, and could share the 'best practice' I learned woth the nursery. It may also be worth seeing your GP and asking for a referral to a paediatrician at some point, if you feel the biting and anger isnt coming under control. I am not trying to scare you! But early intervention if there is a problem can make all the difference.

She is probably just a spiritied little girl, though. Two of DS's peers at nursery were very rough and tumble, bossy and prone to lashing out at 3 yrs old and are now 7 yrs old and have totally outgrown it.

Good luck.

Oblomov Tue 09-Oct-12 11:31:18

Kate, our 'step' doesn't work either. I don't understand what the diference is between a step and a time out. They are both removal methods. A time for reflection. What makes the 'time out' so much more effective?

MaBaya Tue 09-Oct-12 11:33:12

To be honest, too...the naughty step did not work with DS and after trying it for months and just watching him work himself into terrible tantrums or run away and trash the place, we abandoned it. Time out was marginally more successful, but only when framed as a chance to 'cool off' from a tantum, not as punishment.

Bethnick Tue 09-Oct-12 14:05:56

is the room at nursery suited to her ability? as a nursery nurse (now mum to be) that behavior to me would be ok this child is bored what can WE do.

DO NOT be too worried most children go threw the biting stage teeth are still quite new.

I think that if you ignore and not so good behavior and go crazy on the well done sweetie when they do something good no matter how small she will learn that she gets a reaction from the good.

Ask to meet with the nursery staff and see how they are dealing with it. If she is bright she may not get as much attention so biting is a way of getting noticed.

she will be fine. hope i helped xx

TantrumsandBananas Tue 09-Oct-12 17:31:07

Thanks to everyone, there are lots of things to think about. I have spoken to the Nursery today, just to follow up, gage other parents reaction, and make sure that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet so to speak. They were very very supportive, not at all negative about it in any way. Along the lines of we will speak to her tomorrow when she comes in, keep an eye on things. We have agreed that we will all do "Timeouts". Funnily enough, as poster above said, they did describe her as spirited. Although she thought the comment DD has repeatedly said when asked why she did it "I just wanted her to disappear" was interesting.

The other parents involved, have kicked up a huge hoohaa, but thats their right. But the Nursery are playing it down, other than to say they have spoken to me, and we need to move on now. The other parents did say alot more than that, but I don't want to say on here. I do feel like the playgroup are being fantastic.

I will take her tomorrow, with my head held high. I AM a good mum, I am doing my best, and will do whatever I can, I like the idea of the books that posters have suggested. Of to have a look. Thank you, and I will be back to update....

MaBaya Tue 09-Oct-12 18:02:32

Oh dont worry about the other parents. People can be very precious. Having had a biter, when my younger, non biting young was bitten at nursery the other parents thought I was going to be on the warpath and were very relieved when I said 'toddlers bite, its not a rabid dog bite...she will live!'. A bit of understanding goes a long way and their child may be the one lashing out at some stage....

The nursery need to just keep a close eye on her and try to read when she is going to unleash the fangs I guess.

Good luck, you sound like a lovely mum

TantrumsandBananas Wed 10-Oct-12 06:24:49

Unleash the fangs grin

You are all lovely ...

rednellie Wed 10-Oct-12 06:52:47

I hope those parents child goes through the bitey stage then they may not be so judgy!

You've had great advice here, I'd just add that they often grow out of it but we have to let them. My DD spent the first 5 months of her brothers lives giving one or other of them a bite and I was also that parent at nursery seeing who else had been injured. For a time I started to really resent her until I realised I spent so much of the day concentrating on the bad behaviour I had stopped seeing all the good.

You describe many things your DD can do that other parents would kill for their child to be doing, especially at 3. Cherish that side of her, downplay the bad and learn to read her signs. Needing a wee is a big one in our house.

Anyway 8 months on and she hasn't bitten for 2 months, only hits under extreme provocation and we go to playgrounds etc and she plays beautifully

matana Wed 10-Oct-12 11:37:54

No more advice, but plenty of sympathy as the mother of a biter and one-time hitter. He's not yet 2, so i guess the strategy for dealing with it is a little different to an older child but just wanted to reinforce what others have said and impart my own experience which might make you smile.

DS has been through a few biting phases, on and off, over several months. The early biting was due to teething i think but the latest biting was always when he was exceptionally frustrated at being unable to articulate his strong emotions. Anyway, my point is, he bit two other children at the CM's, on several occasions. At its peak, he bit a slightly older boy two days in a row and when the other boy bit him back, his mother commented something along the lines of "It might do him good to get a taste of his own medicine and it might stop him doing it in future." I don't actually think she said it in an unkind manner, but i did feel a bit hmm about it.

Anyway, for the past two/ three weeks DS has literally not put a foot out of line. He's happy, smiley, loves playing with other children, plays beautifully and kindly and shows no aggression whatsoever. But we went to this other boy's 2nd birthday party on Saturday and with no provocation at all, and no cause of frustration that i could tell, this other boy bit DS and slapped him (really hard!) almost every time poor DS went near him. DS, to his credit, did not retaliate, nor did he make a big deal and start crying. He just looked a bit perplexed. The boy's mum intervened of course and told him off, as did his dad (in fact his dad smacked him, which is something we've never done to DS) but i just stood there and accommodatingly said "Oh, don't worry - he will grow out of it, these things happen at their age." Inwardly of course i was smugly thinking "Ha! Now you know how it feels. That's karma or poetic justice or something."

Rednellie is right. At some point these other parents' precious little darlings who never do anything wrong, will turn into a nightmare and they will be the ones left blush At that point you and I can just be thankful that ours got it out of the way sooner rather than later and revel in their grown up, well adjusted loveliness!

saintlyjimjams Wed 10-Oct-12 11:43:25

Can you ask the playgroup to ABC the behaviour? This means they record the antecedent (what was happening before) the behaviour (what it was) and the consequence (what reaction was given). This helps give an idea as to why a behaviour is happening Is there a certain time it happens. For instance there is a child in one of my son's classes who kicks of quite a lot and I suspect that this child is struggling with transitions from one activity to another (eg the end of playtime). This is quite common in kids and can lead to a sudden explosion.

Try not to be upset that your dd was biting - to her, from her POV it's not different from a shove or a push, it's adults who see it as so much worse.

FWIW my kids have never bitten anyone else, but when they have been on the receiving end of bites I'm generally just relieved it wasn't them doing the biting.

TantrumsandBananas Fri 12-Oct-12 08:02:51

Hows it going fellow fangees and nice helpful mumsnetters.

Well Wednesday playgroup, she was fabulous.

Yesterday, with me all day - horrendous. Bit me twice, kicked, hit. had a lovely day planned for her.

I never just leave her in front of the telly, we had loads to do. Everything is a row. All started because she WASN'T going to playgroup yesterday! Going to have a chat with them today, and see what they suggest.

You can't even talk to her sometimes.

"Would you like something to eat?"

"NO" with a kick/hit and huge meltdown. ???

I talked to her about it, and said, all you have to say is "No thank you", I'm not goig to make you eat something, if you don't want it!

She said (just 3). "I know, I'm all moany and I don't know how to stop". I feel so sorry for her she seems so frustrated. The only think I am thinking now is maybe more nursery if possible!

ILikeToMoveItMoveIt Fri 12-Oct-12 08:32:07

Sorry, I haven't had time to read all of the posts, but thought I would write my experiences here as ds2 was a biter, and even now his default when he is extremely frustrated is to bite - luckily it is few and far between.

Ds had always been a biter on and off since he was 2, but it came to a head when he was 3.5 and at pre school. Looking back he mostly bit two certain children. One child he used to clash with and the other was his best friend.

After talking it through with the pre school (and many tears from me), we realised he was doing it when he was frustrated with the other person (ie they were taking something from him or they weren't playing the game the way he thought it should be played). He couldn't express his anger verbally so he would bite.

The pre school kept a close eye on him during his sessions and stepped in as soon as they saw a situation escalating. We also taught him about walking away when he felt angry. It had got to the point where he knew biting was wrong and his behaviour was starting to upset him - whereas when he was younger he really didn't seem to care.

we talked about when he feels angry and how he felt when he was angry - we talked about his tummy feeling funny when he felt angry and didn't know what to do. When we could pinpoint a feeling with him (ie his funny tummy), we told him that that is when he needs to walk away from the situation and speak to an adult.

On the walk to each pre school session we would talk about walking away and really quite quickly the biting stopped.

Dh and I also had a big discussion with the pre school staff about their understanding of 'bad' behaviour as we didn't want him labelled as the 'biter'. IMO a child who is rude, shoving, shouting is just the same as a child who bites. They are all types of undesirable behaviour.

I hope you find what works for you and your dd x

Kleinzeit Fri 12-Oct-12 09:27:51

Hi Tantrums Glad to hear your DD had such a good day at nursery.

The temper at home could be about finding it hard to adjust to different routines on different days. Some kids find that really discombobulating. She may be more settled going to nursery for a solid chunk of three to five mornings rather than alternate days. Or she might always find transition days (first day home, first day at nursery) more stressful.

Maybe try thinking stability rather than stimulation at home – she is probably getting as much stimulation as she can handle at nursery and need a more restful time at home. Maybe avoid activities that mean eating in different places or at different times, having a nap some days and missing it others, encountering unfamiliar kids and unfamiliar experiences. She may also benefit from a picture timetable – set it up the day before and show it to her so she knows what’s coming. (I bought a magnetic whiteboard, cards and magnetic sticky tape to stick the cards on the board for DS.)

A lot of toddlers struggle with wide choices and decisions and feel more comfy with routines and limited choices. “It’s lunchtime now, would you like cheese or a ham sandwich?” DS was unusual in still having the same problem at school age, related to his Asperger’s. For the other kids “choose time” at school when the kids pick a toy and get on with it is great fun. But DS couldn’t cope. His strategy was to see what the nearest kid was playing with and grab it. (sigh) So his teacher put two games in his basket and told him to choose one. He was fine with that.

Best of luck, you're doing a great job!

hollie2vicky Sat 13-Oct-12 09:51:43

Hi everyone. I am new to mums net. I have a 5 year old daughter and I am pulling my hair out with her. Her temper is absolutely awful. If she doesnt get her own way she becomes violent to the extent her best friend had to stay in hospital overnight with concussion after she pushed her into a wall. I am ashamed and embarrassed by her behaviour and I know all the other parents at the school are talking about her/us. She comes from a loving family with 2 parents that love her very much although again I am ashamed to say that sometimes I dont like her. We found out earlier this year that she had been sexually touched by another child who is 12. Although we tried our best to deal with this I feel that we havent done all we could to help her. Both my husband and I work full time so maybe we are not spending enough time with her. I really dont understand her and dont know who to turn to next. Any advice would be very much appreciated. Thank you.

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