Toddler biting and pulling hair - help!!!

(12 Posts)
SeaSandSunshine Sun 28-Mar-21 22:47:50

Hi Parents, NC for this as I am bit mortified and appreciate the anonymity.

Background: DC is 13 months, generally a very happy, smiley and content little boy. He’s walking, babbling, eating well, sleeping well etc. DH and I practice gentle parenting, been cosleeping and contact napping from the beginning, all his needs are met, he’s very much loved and is cared for to the best of our abilities. We go out most days and we have lots of play times, reading etc...

The issue: for the last about two months, he started regularly biting, scratching / pinching and pulling hair and it’s been gradually getting worse and stronger. We understand we can’t possibly discipline a 13m old and have no intention to do so, and of course he doesn’t understand that what he does causes pain and is not acceptable. I’ve read a lot of blogs / advice as to how to deal with it ie: not to react, distracting with a toy, show how to stroke when he is pulling on hair etc but nothing seems to be working, and if it does, it’s only short lived and half an hour later we are back to square one.

Sometimes it’s during play, but sometimes it’s completely out of the blue, for example today, after breakfast DS was playing with his toys quietly so I was just check my emails at the table. Next thing I know, he runs up to me and bites my thigh. He has both sets of front teeth (9 in total) so it really hurt. He broke the skin and I was in tears. Both from pain but mainly from sheer frustration. Same with the hair. I’d just be picking him up to look out the window and he’d just grab my hair and pull a chunk out. He does it to both DH and me equally (My hair is always tied up but it doesn’t matter, he takes it apart) and DH has a beard which also gets it.

I’m worried and I’d like some advice please! I’m hoping it’s a phase, I know he’s exploring and finding it exciting that he can get a reaction etc but he is starting nursery in a couple of months and frankly, I’d like him to have some friends and not do this to teachers and other children. As much as it may be normal (I don’t actually know anymore, is it???) I would just like to find a way to deal with it as we are at our wits end and it’s a constant “ouch!” “agghhh!” “Stoooop!!” in our house these days sad

What would you suggest we do? Have you experienced this at all? Friends aren’t very helpful as either they can’t remember or haven’t had to deal with it...

OP’s posts: |
SeaSandSunshine Mon 29-Mar-21 11:27:22

Anyone??? Please don't tell me it's only us 😅🙁

OP’s posts: |
Dehew Mon 29-Mar-21 11:57:04

Hi - my son was very similar, It got so bad that I stopped taking him to baby groups.. one time he scratched my friends daughter on the face, and made her bleed..whilst at soft play..I put him in his pushchair and told him off... I left him strapped in his pushchair whilst I sat and cried in the toilets, I was at my wits end... however, he did eventually stop and this is just a phase!!!... taking to other mums this really isn’t uncommon. All you can do is let the child know that it’s wrong and hurts... trust me it will stop!.. just ride the wave as best as can.. good luck!!!

SeaSandSunshine Tue 30-Mar-21 16:25:14

Thank you so much for replying! Glad to know it's only a phase. I find it hard without the soft play / baby groups you mentioned as I just don't know what DS will be like around other children. Due to the pandemic, he's never really socialised with other children, although often waves and tries to engage when out in the park etc. I honestly hope it will end soon, he's such a kind and loving little boy (when he's not busy pulling chunks of hair out of your scalp 🤦🏼‍♀️😅)

OP’s posts: |
Cormoran Tue 30-Mar-21 22:21:34

Gentle parenting doesn't mean not teaching right or wrong. Think of it as teaching not to put hands and toys in toilet bowl, waiting for the green man before crossing the street and so on. Discipline doesn't mean punishment . You teach acceptable behaviour .
When he does a wrongful act, like pulling hair, biting or anything like that. You stand up, or put him down if he is in your arms, and you say "no" . doesn't have to be a loud voice, or angry voice, but decisive . You will have to find what works for you and him. I used to put my children on floor and turn my back on them. They got the opposite of attention.

Mixmag Wed 31-Mar-21 09:45:34

I agree with the last post, I would also make a point of saying in a low loud and very stern voice “no, you do not bite mummy that is not kind,no!” And then immediately turn your back on him. And praise all the time for good behaviour and lots of cuddles! Let us know how you get on x

SeaSandSunshine Wed 31-Mar-21 11:15:53

Thank you @Cormoran , really good points, especially re discipline / punishment. That will absolutely change my approach. He's definitely being taught right and wrong behaviours and we are quite firm with "No" and "Don't" - for example, he knows he now knows he isn't allowed in the bathroom and won't touch radiators etc. That's why I don't understand why nothing we do works with the hair pulling and biting.

I only mentioned gentle parenting (maybe it's not even relevant actually and i don't even think we follow it to the letter!!) to kind of indicate that we are very much attentive to all his needs, and the biting / hair pulling isn't, or doesn't seem to be an act of frustration or anger. Someone I mentioned this to called it as a "violent behaviour" and I was just a bit taken a back thinking Whoooaaa, he's not a violent kid, that's not what this is about. At least I don't think so! Hope that makes sense smile So I was just trying to give a picture of how things are at home and how we are with him.

OP’s posts: |
SeaSandSunshine Wed 31-Mar-21 11:25:22

@Mixmag - see when I did this, I even pulled a sad face, telling him how much it hurt etc and he genuinely looked like he kind of understood what I was saying, and then 2 minutes later, back at it! So frustrating, I think I definitely need to be more consistent with this and stick to just one method as I made a mistake of reading too much about this and trying to implement every single thing...

OP’s posts: |
Mixmag Wed 31-Mar-21 13:26:13

Good luck lovely, I’m sure it’s just a phase xxx

SeaSandSunshine Sun 04-Apr-21 11:47:01

Quick update. We noticed the last couple of days that he does it more when he is about to get overtired. Thinking back now, I can't believe we missed it, or just never really noticed the timings and connection but it is definitely the worst in the evenings just before bed time, so we have started to move his bedtime a bit earlier and being a bit stricter on daytime naps too. Also being very consistent with the firm "No Biting"s 🤞🤞

OP’s posts: |
Mixmag Mon 05-Apr-21 07:00:26

That’s great news, thanks for sharing, hopefully this can help someone else in the same situation smile

zaffa Wed 21-Apr-21 10:54:01

@SeaSandSunshine DD is 16 m with this exact scenario - was coming on to suggest tiredness. The worst part is she pulls my hair when she falls asleep as she plays with it but is rough and it's so hard to choose between disrupting bedtime or putting up with it! She is a co sleeper and not ready for her own bed without some form of cry it out that I'm not on board with. I try to cry to show pain and she will cuddle me better but isn't completely deterred and I've tried firm no but she laughs at me! How is it going with you?

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