Our son has entered a biting phase. In the beginning, he only bit his mother. But they were big, skin breaking, blood drawing bites…think Dracula on a binge!
That changed on Sunday when Hugh Michael bit one of the volunteers in the church nursery. It was a nasty bite too…bit her on the cheek. Hard.
Great, now I’m the dad of a biter. The Hannibal Lecter of toddlers. I can just see how this is going to go as I take Hugh Michael to the nursery next week.
“Good morning Hugh Michael,” says the nursery worker. “I’ll just be wrapping this leather and steel mask around your face so you can’t hurt the other little boys and girls. Now run off and have a good time.”
Mortified at the thought of that, I called our pediatrician and told her of our terrible dilemma.
Her response? Laughter.
She says biting is a phase lots of two-year-olds go through. She said it’s an expression of their frustration over an inability to communicate. It’s also an attempt to get what they want.
I asked her about sure-fire ways to fix the problem. Should we bite Hugh Michael back? Should we put hot sauce on his tongue. She said those were fine…but they probably wouldn’t work.
“Then what will,” I asked. The doctor said patience.
Patience? Are you kidding me? Six years of medical school and the best advice I can get is to wait it out?
Apparently, biting is yet another example of a toddler’s lack of emotional and psychological development. They can’t tell us what they want or what’s making them cry…so many of them bite. They know that their mouth is the place from which communication flows…so for them, biting seems quite logical. They’ll get over it as their communication skills improve.
The learned doctor did say that we should apply some rules when our son bites.
First, do not give in to what he wants. If he connects biting with success, he’ll keep biting. Resist that temptation with everything you’ve got.
Second, do not give him the attention he craves. After a bite, put him on timeout. And when you do, do not talk to the child, don’t even look him in the eye on the way to timeout. This will have the greatest impact. Only at the end of the timeout period, the doctor said, should we talk to our son about what he has done and the consequences of those actions.
But even with such a regimen, it will take several months for the biting phase to end.
In the meantime…I recommend you wear a flak jacket when in Hugh Michael’s presence.