My son has a friend (both are almost 2 1/2 years old) who has bitten him twice. It doesn't seem like his mom does anything for a consequence beside maybe a short "timeout". Should I say anything? How do you handle this type of situation? I am really at a loss!

One of the worst moments was when my child was bitten in the cheek - such a deep bite that he had bruises for several weeks where each of the teeth connected. It's the worst. So, I know. I know. But sometimes being bitten can turn a child into a biter - monkey see, monkey do. So, here's both sides of the coin...

To the bitten: I would say, the next few playdates, never leave your son's side. See what's triggering the biting and you stop him before it happens. If it happens more than once you can always use this phrase, "I think us being here is hard on Ben, so we'll play again another time." Of course you will be thinking something different, but by leaving right after it happens, it sends the message to the child -- friends go when I bite.

I would also talk to the mom, in a non confrontational way. Try one of these questions "What's the best way to help a child stop biting, I'm worried about it with my child." -- sometimes asking the person with the problem for advice helps bring it to their attention - its also nice to feel like we are in this together instead of finger pointing. OR "You'll never believe but my child keeps being bitten (you don't have to mention its only their child doing the biting) he's turning into a pin cushion for teeth. You'll have to help me watch him - do you think its because he doesn't know how to play with other children?" Again, bringing it to the attention and asking them to help look will help them catch their child faster and hopefully prevent it.

But, in the end, if its too much, you can just postpone playdates for awhile. Biting is usually a phase that will go away. But, never be afraid to talk about it. I think the more practice we get with situations like this will help us one day when our then teenager crashes the neighbors car.

To the biter: Make sure that you don't just send your child to timeout - if a bite has happened - help them see the pain or tears they caused. Really help them see the consequence of how sad they make someone. Do it quickly, firmly, and then give all your attention to the child who was bitten. You don't want to reward the child inadvertently by giving them too much attention. A lot of bad patterns can be changed quickly, but I have never found a quick solution. It takes a couple weeks of constantly reminding the child not to bite (because they are so little it takes repetition and constant vigilance to make it stick).

You can also try pushing their lower teeth down if you catch them in the act.

Good luck!

Painting: The Weeders by Jules Breton

No comments: