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I can't do this anymore

(21 Posts)
HoggleHoggle Wed 02-Dec-15 11:35:50

Ds will be 2 this month. Since he's been at least 1 he has bitten me when cross. And I mean really bitten me - he has a full set of teeth which leave perfect bite marks on my skin, he breaks the skin, often draws blood, and because he tears off rather than just releases, it bruises horribly.

I don't know what to do anymore. I don't want our lives to be like this, where if I do anything that ds doesn't like, I'm bitten. It genuinely hurts and I hate his behaviour.

Flashpoints are things like asking him to leave somewhere, telling him no, getting him dressed etc. I always give warnings of what's happening next, incentives to go along with behaviour (your fire engine is at home, let's go play with that etc). But still he gets furious and I am bitten.

Over the last year we've tried different ways to try and stop the biting:
Saying 'no'
Ignoring the behaviour, ie not rewarding it with attention
Trying to be more positive, ie, 'we're a cuddling family not biters etc.
Removing him from the situation.

Nothing works.

Latterly I've been showing ds the marks he makes on my skin explaining that he has hurt me and asking him to say sorry. He refuses.

Yesterday when trying to get him to leave somewhere he bit my back. Today it was my arm and then hits round the head.

I don't want to do this anymore. It is really affecting me. I'm trying so hard to be a good parent and keep calm and constructive in discipline but I'm really reaching the end of my tether.

He doesn't bite other children, in case that's relevant. Just me and dh, although I'm a SAHM so I bear the brunt.

TheHouseOnTheLane Wed 02-Dec-15 11:41:24

How is his language developing? I've noticed my nephew who also turns two soon is being quite aggresive and he has a speech delay. He has no words apart from Mama at all and I think that he feels frustrated about this...and lashes out.

flowers it is awful I know....when you say you've done the ignoring/not giving attention thing have you literally left him alone? I found that worked well with my DD at this age....I'd only leave the room for about a minute or less...(only at home) and then not speak to her or look at her for another minute.

It really hit home and they hate work out that biting = no Mama.

HoggleHoggle Wed 02-Dec-15 12:19:45

Thanks so much.

He is a bit slow with his speech, is definitely getting a few more words but I would say is behind the majority of other two year olds we know. His comprehension is v good.

Interesting what you say about the ignoring, previously it was just carrying on with whatever I was doing and not giving any attention to the biting - but after this morning I totally ignored him for a little while. I had to because I was so, so cross. But he definitely noticed it so I may start doing it more constructively if it seems to help. Nothing else is getting through at all.

TheHouseOnTheLane Wed 02-Dec-15 12:28:45

And go and see the GP or Health visitor about his speech. He may not even qualify for any help but he just doesn't have the stigma it once did...seeking help with speech is almost a right of passage for many toddlers. A big percentage have a slight delay and while they often right themselves, there's no harm in getting some assistance if it's on offer.

Even at 2 there is help out there...sometimes group classes where you can sit with a speech therapist who basically plays games and shows effective strategies for bringing it on faster. That will help his frustration.

The ignoring definitely works if you make it really clear it's about the a firm "No!" and immediately turn your back to him.

mummypig3 Wed 02-Dec-15 12:35:25

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

CheradenineZakalwe Wed 02-Dec-15 12:46:25

My son is starting to bite more now and he's also speech delayed (fairly significantly). Not found a way to deal with it yet unfortunately but you definitely have my sympathy flowers

HoggleHoggle Wed 02-Dec-15 12:57:20

Thank you all. I will call the HV. She's aware of the speech thing to a certain extent - at ds's 1 year appt I said he wasn't babbling at all (let alone starting to say words), so she arranged for a hearing test. That all came back fine but I'd been wondering whether I need to speak to her again. Ds is my first so it's hard to know what is expected at each stage. What sort of speech would you expect a 2 year old to have? Ds has a few words that he says very regularly - more, gone, bye. There are a few more words that he says semi regularly - bag, bear, boat are a few off the top of my head. But that's pretty much it. The pronunciation is very unclear too but again I'm not sure how much of that is expected in a young toddler.

TheHouseOnTheLane Wed 02-Dec-15 13:28:25

There's such variety OP that you shouldn't panic. The general "rule" is about 50 word by 2 and combining two words to form simple sentences should begin soon.

"Daddy gone?" for instance.

HoggleHoggle Wed 02-Dec-15 13:37:50

I think in terms of actual words he has it's possibly more like 20-30 although I think that's not too bad. I don't get the sense that putting words together is close at all, but I could be wrong. I'll have a word with the HV in any case.

boobybum Wed 02-Dec-15 13:56:11

I would say that he is still very young so i'm not sure whether showing him your injuries and explaining how hurt you are will really get through to him (although I do think you should continue to do so but just don't expect him to understand).

You say it is only you and DH that he bites - what happens when he does - does he ever get to continue doing what he wants to keep doing/get what he wants?

Maybe you should try using a countdown for when an activity has to stop or when you have to leave somewhere. So for example, "ds we will put your toys away in 2 minutes.... Ds we will put your toys away in 30 secs.... Ds toys away in 10,9,8." And at this point countdown on your fingers as well so that he has a visual prompt.

Also perhaps having a visual schedule may help. So you could have a strip of pictures in the morning showing what he has to do such as getting dressed, brushing teeth etc and he removes each picture as its done and can see what is coming next.

I think you may also want to have a consistent response to any biting. So a very firm "No, we do not bite" and then maybe even put him on a naughty step/spot for a few seconds.

Lastly, you could try getting him a chewy stick/necklace so that at potential danger times you could get him to bite that instead and say "if you are cross you can bite your chewy".

Good luck.

Thurlow Wed 02-Dec-15 14:01:53

I agree with seeing the HV for a chat, because it never hurts.

A countdown can be incredibly helpful, as it can preempt some tantrums because the change is less dramatic.

But also on ignoring - DD went through a phase of biting, I asked for advice on here and got similar advice to simply walk away if it was safe to. So we did. Or, if it wasn't safe, we put DD on the step (it's never been the naughty step in our house, just a place to sit and have some time out and calm down and, as she's got older, think about what she has just done). It gradually worked. It may be that by remaining in the same room with him, it isn't passing on the message that you want?

HoggleHoggle Wed 02-Dec-15 16:03:22

Thank you booby and thurlow. I do countdown before taking him away from something - so the issue this morning was leaving playgroup and I have a 5 min then 2 min warning. I don't think he quite understands the concept yet so I think the visual suggestion is a good one, thanks.

He doesn't ever get to continue doing what it is he wants after biting, ie I'm very firm about him not getting what he wants once he's bitten me. We're pretty firm parents (though with a lot of love) but I do try to make sure I give him free time to so what he wants when he wants. Maybe I need to think about doing more of this. It's difficult though isn't it, because certain things to need to get done each day and I couldn't stay at playgroup forever this morning.

I completely agree that I need to leave the room for a minute to reinforce this. I'll definitely start doing this.

Thanks so much for advice and if nothing else I'm glad I'm not the only one with a bitey child! It feels like it sometimes.

Thurlow Wed 02-Dec-15 16:11:58

Definitely not the only one. My lowest moment was I saw the teeth marks in another mindees arm that DD had left blush They do grow out of it. Consistency is the key. It never sounds nice when it's written down, but essentially they soon start to understand that when they do something like biting, all they achieve is Mum leaving.

Also, if he is going to be someone who does feel quite physical when angry, as his language improves you can hopefully teach him other strategies to manage it (as booby suggests, something for him to bite instead)

Sallyhasleftthebuilding Wed 02-Dec-15 16:44:25

If he bites your arm - push into it and gags - this makes him let go - rather than ripping a chunk out of your arm.

hilbobaggins Wed 02-Dec-15 17:47:59

Biting is horrendously painful. My 3 year old is more of a headbutter, which is also lovely, but we went through the biting thing too. It was awful and shredded my every last nerve. No advice but my heart absolutely goes out to you. cake

Cressandra Thu 03-Dec-15 00:09:45

This brings back a lot of memories. DS did outgrow it eventually, but it took ages. I think lack of speech was a big part of it.

I used to face him away from me and leave the room. He'd come and find me, I didn't time my absence or anything. I also considered using a travel cot/playpen to contain him while I left and took some deep breaths, but I never got that far. I'm not sure my removing myself really helped tbh, but you have to try something.

Try to keep your language positive - say "show me gentle" rather than "no biting" where possible and learn makaton or baby signs for gentle. And model gentleness and kindness as much as you can. It is hard but at this age they learn more from your manner than your words.

A random tip I've never understood, but I did find helpful, is to offer an alternative physical contact if he is looking bitey. Offer a cuddle or even shake hands. I don't get it, I suppose it's a physical/sensorial version of distraction but it did seem to work.

Flamingo1980 Thu 03-Dec-15 08:27:25

When he bites you, do you show him you're in pain?
When he bites you, yell 'OWWW!!' really loudly, enough to make him jump. Then (fake) cry and put him alone for one minute. Then ignore him for a further minute and look upset. This is so so powerful and I only needed to do it twice with my daughter and she stopped forever. It seems to me you're not reacting strongly enough to make him regret it. As soon as you do, he will stop.

MonsterDeCookie Thu 03-Dec-15 08:44:26

We had this lovely behavior for a while. Get a playpen. If he bites push into him as pp said so be gags and opens his mouth. Then pop him in the playpen and tell him you won't let him bite. You understand he's upset but you need to keep both of you safe. He will probably have an almighty tantrum. Let him. Stay with him and listen. Once he's calm take him out and carry on as normal. It's wearing but it works!

CheradenineZakalwe Thu 03-Dec-15 12:12:12

I was just reminded of this thread because DS bit my bottom (through my clothes!) this morning hmm I told him no, we don't bite very loudly and sat him on a chair across the room and ignored him for a few minutes. He tried to get down once so I put him back on it, then he just sat. No idea if that was the right approach!

HoggleHoggle Thu 03-Dec-15 12:40:29

Flamingo I would previously have thought you were right but in the past I have made it very clear that he has hurt me and fake cried. Ds laughed. So I think for him at least it wasn't the right approach because it almost became a game.

He tried to bite me this morning but I said no and managed to get away. He also hesitated before deciding not to continue, he occasionally does this, so I think on some level he is aware he's not meant to be doing it. He just loses control.

Cressandra Thu 03-Dec-15 13:07:24

Flamingo that worked for you but if it were the answer for everyone, there would be no habitual biters. There is no method that's guaranteed to work practically instantly for every child.

I think it would have been v effective with my DD, had she ever bitten at all, but my son not so much.

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