Getting stressed about biting toddler

(22 Posts)
MrsNouveauRichards Tue 20-Nov-12 22:48:09

My DS is 2.3yrs and has always had 'challenging' behaviour. On the whole it is improving, but he has started biting at playgroup.

He has bitten his older sister a few times, but never anyone else, until a couple of weeks ago where he bit a boy on the face at playgroup. I didn't see this incident, but two friends did, one of them was the mum of the boy. I told my son off, apologised to the boy, and kept a much closer eye on my son. Unfortunately, a little girl then tried to take a toy away from DS and he bit her finger.

We didn't go to playgroup for a week, but had many discussions on good behaviour and bad behaviour (he hardly speaks, but his understanding is very good)

Today we went back, and I kept a very close eye on my DS. The boy who he bit on the face kept approaching him and seems to be in the 'snatching' phase, so was very difficult to keep DS calm (he seems to bite out of frustration, as he will bite toys/furniture)

DS was lying on the floor at my feet playing with some cars when this boy comes up to him and puts his hand in front of DS's face and pushes him in the face. DS sunk his teeth into this poor boys hand.

I have since had his mother on Facebook claiming that because of our friendship she "put a brave face on it, but when my DS bit her poor son's face and left a mark, she felt like crying, and the stress of it all is too much for her, and is affecting her alopecia"

I am really stressed about this, my son's behaviour is affecting someone else mental health! I am working on his behaviour, but believe it is a phase, not a sign that there is something wrong with my child (in my more rational moments!)

Do I stop taking him out until he stops biting? Or just carry on, trying to teach him how to behave as best I can?

PaulInHolland Wed 21-Nov-12 07:05:45

My 23mo DS bit other toddlers in the nursery a few times-until he was bitten on the face by another toddler-he does not do it anymore.

It is something that some toddlers do at this age. All you can do is keep telling him off and try to keep a good eye on him at the nursery,although it probably happens too quickly to stop it most of the time.

And the mother on Facebook is being a drama queen.

feetheart Wed 21-Nov-12 09:49:04

My DS went through this phase a bit younger than yours but it was still horrible. For a while I had to be right behind him all the time when out - no quick chat, no coffee, bloody hard work but it meant I got to him most of the time just as he was going to bite. I would remove him, sit him down facing away from the action and say 'No biting' very clearly. As soon as he got back up to play I was behind him once again.
It was knackering and I'm not really sure if it worked as he stopped completely after an older child retaliated when he bit her. Made me feel that I was doing something though!

Good luck, it is horrible but it is just another phase.

BBQshapes Wed 21-Nov-12 10:00:56

Poor you! Maybe your son is a bit frustrated that he can't get his message across with words (you said he doesn't talk much) and so is relying on actions, quite strong actions! You could take him to see a Speech and Language Therapist to see how to help him with his communication. At 2.3 years children are normally joining at least 2 words together in short sentences, so maybe he just needs a little help along.

MrsNouveauRichards Wed 21-Nov-12 14:42:43

Thanks for your replies!

I keep telling myself or is a phase, it is not to do with a bad child or bad parenting, but it is mortifying!

We have had huge meltdown like tantrums for about a year now, and have seen the HV frequently about this. His speech is improving, but slowly, and I think that this is the basis for all the challenging behaviour (i keep telling myself this!) Unfortunately the SALT won't see him until he is 2.6yrs, so we are trying to do as much as we can ourselves to encourage him.

My DS and this boy will be at school together, so I'm really worried about this woman having a thing against my son iyswim?

MrsNouveauRichards Wed 21-Nov-12 14:47:40

Oh, and I do keep secretly hoping an older child will bite him back and he will realise how much it hurts. But tbh, I don't think he does it rationally, it is a bit of a 'raaaaa' moment when he loses control of the situation. He has never gone up to a child and bit, it is always them getting in his personal space, or taking a toy or being rough.

I definitely don't condone the biting, but trying to do my best at understanding why he does it.

BBQshapes Wed 21-Nov-12 16:50:13

That's strange that the SALT won't see him until 2.6yrs?? You say he also has huge tantrums - how are his general social skills? And how does he communicate his messages to you? I'd be pushing to see a SALT sooner if I were you - it seems you have a lot to handle. It's not bad child or bad parenting!
Otherwise, check out this website: www.talkingpoint.org.uk
It has good ideas about how to help a child's communication development. You might need to look at the ideas for the younger ages if you son is behind for his age with talking.
Another excellent book is: It Takes Two to Talk. Not sure how much it costs though, possibly not cheap.

Emsmaman Wed 21-Nov-12 17:50:46

DD has bitten other children, she has been bitten too. I get upset when she bites others but I don't get upset if she gets bitten, so I'm hoping the other mums feel the same, that it's just normal behaviour! Everyone tells me they grow out of it. We are now reading "Teeth are not for biting" at home a lot but not sure she's really getting it.

naughtymummy Wed 21-Nov-12 18:02:31

Ds was a nightmare biter. You do just have to follow them around. I read somewhere it is addictive (they derive pleasure from sinking their teeth in. With Ds it did just peter out. What I ended up doing was if he tried to bite or bit another child. Was very loudly and publicly tell him NO BITING then put him in his buggy facing the wall for 5 mins while I chilled out and had a cup of coffee. That way a) the other mothers could see me doing something about the behaviour and b) I got a break from shadowing Ds. If he did it again we would leave.

TBH I don't think it made a blind bit of difference, but it's often about others perception.

naughtymummy Wed 21-Nov-12 18:04:46

Ds is 8 now btw and is neither particularly aggressive nor damaged I wish I could say the same for his Mum

MrsNouveauRichards Wed 21-Nov-12 18:23:42

I do try to remove him from the situation and remind him that biting is naughty etc.

BBQ he is actually quite a sociable little thing, very affectionate and emphatic for his age. His behaviour seems to improve with each new skill he learns, but then deteriorates again when the novelty has worn off and he is frustrated again. I have been in contact with the HV pretty frequently, but until he is 2.6 the SALT won't see him, as lack of speech is still 'normal' until about then.

His speech improves the more he spends time with his sister, but now she is at school all day he doesn't get much chance. The HV says she gets the feeling he is very bright and is just taking it all in atm. His speech is improving, but it is slow progress and there has never been a rush of words. He doesn't say sentences, but words on their own, not clearly, most of his words sound the same, but you can differentiate from the context iyswim?

I will have a look at that site, thank you smile

BBQshapes Wed 21-Nov-12 18:47:51

Hope that site helps. It's good that he does have some words and is sociable boy - lack of speech is not normal at age 2.5 yrs (I'm a SALT...), think they might be struggling with NHS waiting lists.... Kids normally need at least 50 words before they start joining them, and this normally happens by age 2 yrs.

I understand what you're talking about - he has some language (i.e. words) but his speech is not clear. I'd get his hearing tested just to be on the safe side and rule that out.

I really think if you can get his speech sorted then the behaviour will improve. If he is bright and understands a lot then he has to be frustrated at not being able to get his message across. We all would be!

Good luck!

Hassled Wed 21-Nov-12 18:51:06

It sounds like you're doing everything right, and I know it sounds a bit trite to just trot out the "it's just a phase" line but it usually is true. My youngest was a biter - I still remember those humiliating early exits from playgroups etc.

I think you're right that as the speech improves, so will his behaviour. My biting youngest has/had a speech disorder and that was a big factor in the challenging behaviour, in hindsight.

happygilmore Wed 21-Nov-12 18:58:18

In terms of his speech, have you got the It Takes Two to Talk Book (often recommended on here)? It's really good, with lots of practical tips for things you can do to help his speech. It's quite expensive but really worthwhile getting it.

MrsNouveauRichards Wed 21-Nov-12 20:17:29

I will look up the book now (maybe the library has it?)

We have not had his hearing tested recently, but have had no concerns, if you mention the word biscuit or sweetie in a different room he comes running! He seems to understand some fairly complex sentences, for example " I might nip down to Txmaxx and see if there are any new floor puzzles" DS jumped up and grabbed his shoes, where normally it is a fight to get him ready to leave the house. grin

Carruthers Wed 21-Nov-12 22:35:46

Hi you have my sympathies. My son was an occasional biter for about 3 months. He no longer bites. It was very stressful. I don't blame other parents for being upset but I found it tricky because sometimes I would see other children taunting or teasing and then my son lashing out. I stumbled upon a libary book for kids called Doodle Bites by someone with a surname Dunbar. It resonanted with my son. It is a story about a crocodile that bites. I said to him you are not a crocodlle you are a good little boy and biting hurts others. Over time he got the message.

MrsNouveauRichards Thu 22-Nov-12 07:22:54

Thank you, that is exactly how I feel. I can stop my son biting children, but not when they are taunting or teasing him and getting in his face the whole time. There is a reason he bites the older children, the younger ones don't get in his face!

Obviously, my son is hurting others and I do take full responsibility for that, but it is bloody hard to not get defensive about it when the other child has provoked DS and then the mother still lays the blame with DS entirely.

Over the last couple of days I have had a lot of friends giving me their support and the fact they are all happy for their kids to spend time with mine, must mean we're not doing too bad! smile

happygilmore Thu 22-Nov-12 10:24:47

Hope it gets better for you soon. Unfortunately that book wasn't in my library but I did get it a bit cheaper on ebay. My daughter was slowish to talk but her understanding was very good, I found that book very helpful because it gives lots of tips for practical things to do to help them along.

feetheart Thu 22-Nov-12 12:09:38

Sounds like you are doing all the right things and I'm glad you have supportive friends in RL because the disapproving mums are the worst thing about it all - "humiliating early exits from playgroups" sounds horribly familiar though, thankfully, a long time ago.

If it helps my DS is now a gorgeous, friendly 7 year old who has Very Clear Ideas about people not hurting each other.

Wishing you strength to get through this phase and on to the next one smile

MrsNouveauRichards Thu 22-Nov-12 17:32:05

Thank you smile

Carruthers Fri 23-Nov-12 11:07:04

That is similar to what happened to me. My child was taunted and teased by two older children who evenually locked him out of the bedroom. He was two at the time. I was at a friend's house and was supervising off and on all evening. The bedrooms were upstairs. I had suggested the children would be better downstairs.
The older children were taking toys off my child as soon as he showed an interest. Suddenly there was a scream and my child bit one of the girls. In retrospect we should have just gone home prior to all this but it would have been difficult and my friend had gone to a lot of trouble preparing the meal.When it happened I was enraged when my son was chastised and no one else. I told my son off and said and said 'girls locking a two year old out of a room is wrong too and it is bullying'. I got no back up from the other parents and so took my child and left. I feltvery upset. My child no longer bites.

MrsNouveauRichards Sat 24-Nov-12 06:55:59

sad

Luckily, my actual friends are fine and would either tell their kids off for winding DS up, or tell them they probably deserved it wink at the end of the day, I feel you should expect anything of a two year old, because they are two. One of my friends has a DS who is nearly 3 but looks the size of most the 4/5yr olds here. He is going through a bit of a pushing phase, and no one can understand why she is so 'soft' with him. If he was 4 or 5 the consequences would be completely different, but he is still only a toddler and should be treated as such.

Parenting is such a bloody minefield!

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