Help! My Son is a Vampire!
Dear Mouthy Housewives,
My (almost) 2-year-old has started biting recently. So far only my shoulder and his brother's cheeks have been recipients, but I want to bite this in the butt (pun intended) before he bites again.
Sincerely, Mom of a Vampire
Dear Mom of a Vampire,
This particular childhood milestone always reminds me of an exchange that once appeared in my Facebook feed. A neighbor had posted a similar lament about her son's biting, and her friend replied that she should BITE THE CHILD BACK. And people applauded it! (I'm going to strongly recommend you DON'T bite your child, in case you were considering it. Especially if there are any witnesses around.)
Now, there are a few standard approaches you can take here, depending on the child's age. With a toddler, experts typically recommend the following:
1. Firmly correct the behavior with a very serious Mommy scowl and a "No! Biting hurts! We don't bite!" But I would suggest you also try wearing a frighting Halloween mask as you finger-wag to really drive the point home.
2. Repeat offenders may need a time-out. Be sure to tell the child why he's being placed in time-out, then set the clock for a minute or so. If time-outs alone aren't doing the trick, try throwing "time-out parties" where everyone else is invited except the biting child. Really go wild with it--ponies, clowns, that kind of thing. He'll soon realize that he's missing out on great fun when he's misbehaving!
3. Be proactive if the child happens to be teething. Provide him with a great teething toy to keep him occupied. I suggest a piece of leather or a horse bit.
4. Don't forget to give the bite victim extra love and attention (provided that first aid isn't required first). This will ensure that the bitten child doesn't feel like he or she has been punished or neglected. It's also great for passive-aggressively reminding the biter that he is not loved as much when he bares his teeth. If you're the one that's been bitten, be sure to give yourself some extra ice cream at dinner. Whether you eat it in front of the biting child (whose dessert has been revoked) is entirely up to you.
Regardless of your tactic, remember that biting is a perfectly normal phase through which many toddlers pass. Many kids may bite out of frustration since they are yet too young to communicate effectively. (Genetics may also play a role, but don't tell my husband I said that.) As long as he's not also drinking blood, you'll all come through it relatively unscathed.