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DS is a biter. How do I help him to stop?(4 Posts)
DS is 2 years 4 months. He goes to nursery two days a week and has been attending regularly since August. At least one of those two times per week I am told that he has bitten another child.
I take him to classes (swimming and tumble tots) twice a week, where he gets to be around other children but not free reign, and on the other days we go to the park, to a toddler group or to soft play, so he is getting regular interaction with other children.
Since he has been a baby he has expressed his frustration by biting or grabbing. Even at 7 months old, when he started to crawl, if we did not pick him up when he wanted or were otherwise not paying him the attention he needed he would crawl up to us and bite us on the feet/legs. Objections to nappy changes were similarly met with bites to any part of the anatomy that he could get hold of.
He has improved a lot since his language has come on and he is now able to express himself in a complex way. Since about 22 months we have been down to the stage of him biting me or DH only a couple of times per week, rather than several times per day. But obviously, I really want to put a stop to him biting other children as soon as possible.
When he bites at home we speak to him in a firm voice and tell him not to bite. Asking him what he is doing and why is also effective in getting him to stop. We say that it hurts and ask him to be gentle. He has to say sorry for the hurt. If he persists in grabbing or trying to bite, we walk away and close a door between us, which he hates, and he will then be left for a few minutes until we hear that he calms down. We then go to him and reiterate that we walked away because he was hurting us and ask him to say sorry, then have a hug.
We don't use physical chastisement, and he does not witness violence in the home. Although I confess that on a few occasions when he has taken a grip with his teeth and not let go, I have not been as gentle as I possibly could in getting him off me.
On the whole he is a friendly, confident, happy, funny, perceptive little thing and a complete bundle of energy. He is wilful, and does not easily obey requests, although he can understand and perform complex instructions when it suits him. When we have play dates he is often very generous to the other child, giving them toys to play with and offering them food if I put a plate down for sharing. He is quite good at sharing and if there is a conflict over a toy all I have to say is "DS, choose something else to play with" and he will do so. However, I'm told that at nursery he is more aggressively territorial about toys.
The triggers I have noted for him being aggressive are:
- Teething. He is generally more irritable and aggressive when he is cutting teeth, and his final set of molars are I think about to come through.
- Stubbornness. If someone wants him to do something he doesn't want to do, or stops him from doing something he wants.
- Tiredness/hunger. He is definitely more likely to be aggressive when he is hungry.
However, today in nursery he bit a child, seemingly without provocation. When I asked him about it he told me something about the other child crashing his train, which was not the activity that they were doing at the time. But knowing DS I can believe that the other child had done something that upset him earlier that morning and that DS was holding a grudge!
Apologies for the epic post. I do believe that DS will grow out of this eventually, as his behaviour has already improved a lot, but does anyone have any advice on how I can get him though it sooner rather than later?
There’s sone advice on biting on ask Dr Sears.
Thanks for that link. We are doing everything on there apart from the reward chart. I haven't tried using a reward chart for anything for DS yet but it's worth a shot.
Does anyone else have experience of their own DC biting?
I do sometimes wonder/worry about DS's attitude to discipline. He seems to have such confidence that he's not bothered by rewards or punishment. For example, at nursery they apparently sometimes get a particular member of staff who doesn't normally deal with the day to day care of the children to come in and do 'the Voice' if for example the toddlers are messing around and not lying quietly for their nap time. The other children respond well to her firmly telling everyone to lie quietly and stop messing around, but DS doesn't seem to be in the slightest intimidated by her and pays little heed. It's not that he doesn't understand as he will later tell me that "Xx say lie down and shh".
It is also not a question of him lacking empathy, as he is often the first to notice that another child is upset and is keen to try to hug or help them, or will ask why they are crying.
Personally I would have more of a consequence for biting at home than “saying no in a firm voice”. We are generally quite soft with our kids and don’t use this sort of strategy but biting in our house is met with serious and negative consequences - immediate removal from the situation and eg put in cot for a bit or similar. Something that is not in any way violent but is really quite unpleasant, and that makes them ‘sad’. This tamed our biter quite fast. Of course we also do the explaining why etc but I personally felt this needed to be different to what we use for more negotiable behaviours. It’s a bit dog-trainy but was effective...
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