He’s a Biter. He Bites.

by anna on December 31, 2008

You know that scene in the second Austin Powers, where Rob Lowe is playing the younger Number Two, and he says, “Uh, Dr. Evil, about Mini Me . . . he’s a biter,” and then Dr. Evil says, “Huh?” and Younger Number Two holds up his hand, which is covered in bandages, and says, “He bites.”

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Yeah.

When I first showed people the picture of me and Mini Me in my About page, some people asked me if I was raising a cannibal. At the time, I laughed and explained that was how he kissed, he didn’t really understand how to do it yet, so it just looked like he was biting me.

Those were simpler times. Because now Mini has become a biter. For reals.

Now, I don’t want you to think he just goes around biting people willy nilly. No. It is under specific conditions that it happens, usually involving an excess of excitement and happiness, as strange as that sounds. Until last week, I had thought I was his only victim, but over our vacation he bit one of his cousins and Mr. Right-Click. So apparently he has developed a taste for it. I’m starting to worry the next step will involve him requesting my arm be served with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

From what I’ve garnered from my research assitant, Mr. Google, biting is a semi-normal way for toddlers to “make sense of this confusing time in their lives.” Which stands to reason, you know, because I find that whenever I bite into something, I start to feel better. Thing is, that “thing” I bite into is something like a cupcake, not a tricep muscle.

So when he does it, I tell him, “No.” Firmly. And this time he actually took a chunk out of my arm, I accompanied it with an involuntary, “Ow–SHIT!” because yeah, Dr. Sears, Free-to-Be-You-And-Me, liberal child rearing aside, it hurts like a motherfucker to have somebody bite a chunk out of your arm. Even if that somebody only has baby teeth.

So I say, “Do not bite.” And I have to assume that he understands, since he seems to understand everything I say when it suits him. He hasn’t bitten me since the breaking skin incident depicted above, but he did bite Mr. Right-Click, so maybe something is lost in translation. Maybe he thinks “Do not bite,” means “Do not bite Mommy,” but that Daddy is OK. Maybe he’s a hairsplitter, just like both his parents?

For now, it is still a fairly rare occurrence, but I’m worried. I’m worried not just because it hurts, either. I’m worried mostly because I don’t want him to be the Kid that Bites. Or, more to the point, I don’t want to be the Mom to the Kid Who Bites. And for all his credentials, Mr. Google is proving himself a piss-poor research assistant. He’s coming back at me with, “Do not bite your toddler back. You need to show your toddler that biting is wrong.” Umm, OK. I’m not an idiot. Or a cannibal. Internet, I beg of you: how do I stop this biting thing? Anyone?

{ 12 comments }

Crash Commanda December 31, 2008 at 6:50 am

Biting is normal, both my kids did it. This is one of those things kids do that turn us into parents. Eventually you will probably need to really yell at him to the point where he almost cries IMMEDIATELY after he bites you, EVERY TIME, to get the point across that biting is absolutely not ok. You can try to reason with a toddler/schoolage/teenager/really any kid, and you’ll find they always do selective listening. Biting feels good and gets a reaction. Sometimes parenting sucks. Good luck!

anna December 31, 2008 at 12:26 pm

@Crash Commanda, Well, it’s good to hear it’s normal, and since I know both your kids there is some empirical evidence that he will stop one day. I’m kind of on pins and needles waiting for him to do it again, because I don’t know if it’s stopped or if he’s just taking a break!

Kerry December 31, 2008 at 7:45 am

My oldest bit a few times, but it was mostly at daycare, so the teachers there took care of it. They’d say “NO BITING” loudly and with an angry face, and take the kid and sit them someplace else (not really a time-out…just a removal from wherever they were, so they got that something bad had happened). There was one kid in her class who was REALLY a biter, but he outgrew it…they all do. It’s just a phase (a sucky phase, but still).

Now my kids aren’t in daycare anymore, so I’m going to have to manage it myself when my son hits that stage. I am not looking forward to it at all.

anna December 31, 2008 at 12:28 pm

@Kerry, I plan to do that with the potty training–get him into preschool/daycare before that whole debacle begins. I think Mini might be onto me, though, because lately he’s been doing some of those very very early behaviors that indicate readiness for potty training (like hating dirty diapers and going behind the couch for “private time”).

My Buddy Mimi December 31, 2008 at 9:13 am

When Mimi went through her biting stage she was really loving Finding Nemo. Strange as it may sound, she really responded to us talking about the scene where the shark is chasing them. He is trying to bite them, look how scared they are, etc.

anna December 31, 2008 at 12:28 pm

@My Buddy Mimi, that’s a good idea. We haven’t watched Finding Nemo yet–I should check it out.

Amy December 31, 2008 at 10:11 am

I enjoy that there is advice that tells you not to bite back. That really restores my faith in humanity (that some people actually need that advice).

Amy´s last blog post..Tales from the Locker room

anna December 31, 2008 at 12:29 pm

LOL, I know, @Amy.

Kerry January 1, 2009 at 7:56 am

Make sure your preschool will work with that–we signed our oldest up in early August for an early September start in preschool, and we found out that they (and all the others in our area) required that they be potty trained before they started. I had to do it in a month. Even thinking about it gives me that post-traumatic stress disorder thing.

Before that they were in full-time daycare, and they didn’t want to move her up from the “twos” to the “two-and-a-halfs” room because she wasn’t doing well on potty training. Plus, the different toilets between daycare and home freaked her out.

I wish I’d been home for the ENTIRE potty training cycle–I think it would have been a lot easier if I’d been able to provide more consistency.

Denise January 5, 2009 at 2:38 pm

Another things to add is that if he bites another person, give all your attention to the victim and not the biter. If he gets a rise out of you and gets your attention, thats enough to reinforce that behaviour for a bit of time.

He’ll outgrow it no doubt.

surcey January 8, 2009 at 3:52 pm

Is he around 1 year old? My daughter started biting (not out of excitement, but when she was mad at me) around that age. We did some time-outs, but I think that it went away on its own, really. Sorry.

anna January 8, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Surcey, he’s 20 months. He hasn’t done it since I wrote this post, though. Perhaps he is embarrassed. :)

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