With the drama at the lake a bitter memory, the latest drama is biting. Logan has been biting his big brother more often now and I am wondering what I can do to stop it. What I have noticed with this new Ryan & Logan Show is that Logan is easily amused playing with his gadgets and Ryan needs more attention, thus Ryan often will reach out and take whatever toy Logan is contentedly playing with. This upsets Logan to point that he lashes out to bite his big bro. When I have reprimanded Logan, my first reaction was to hold his chin in my hand and stare at him directly in the eyes while telling him that biting hurts his brother and it makes an “Ow-Eee!” (which we have been using to explain hot or sharp items not to be touched).
Because they’re only 12 months old (tomorrow!) I have never had to be truly serious with him, so immediately Logan’s eyes redden and swell with crocodile tears and his little bottom lip sticks out and he cries. This makes me feel like a big meanie, and I wonder if it is even effective in stopping the biting. I have talked to my mum-friends, my doctor and chatted to my granny-nanny about it. Their opinions all differ, from biting or pinching him back when he does it to putting him in a different room as a ‘time-out’. Someone even recommended putting a drop of hot sauce on his tongue! Ouchie-wa-wa! I don’t like any of these suggestions, but I am not sure what else to do, so I started looking via Mr. Google about other possible solutions.
Ways Not to Respond to Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling
1. Don’t bite back in the hope that it will teach him a lesson. It only indicates that you condone biting.
2. Don’t send your child to his room for a time-out. This will only make the behavior more attractive as the commotion created makes him feel more powerful.
3. Avoid lectures. He is too young to understand long, drawn-out explanations.
Frustration and anger, especially being unable to express his needs in this preverbal state, often leads to biting, hitting and other acts of aggression as a form of communication. Teeth (and “claws”) are natural weapons for all young mammals, so your child’s first instinct is to use them when he feels threatened or needs something. This is supposedly quite a common occurrence with older babies and biting is considered to be ‘developmentally appropriate’. He doesn’t truly understand that biting is forbidden, let alone ‘wrong’.
When a toddler lashes out, he’s saying in the only way he knows how that something is bothering him. I have to learn to “read” the behavior by asking myself, “What’s going on here?” The problem may be that he’s tired, bored, overexcited, confused, frustrated or hungry. According to Lise Eliot, a pediatric neuroscientist and author of What’s Going On in There? How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life, a baby is mercurial in his emotions because his cerebral cortex, which controls automatic responses, is barely turned on yet. As the cerebral cortex develops over the coming years, your child will be able to better control his behavior and moods.
7 Steps to Ending Biting, Hitting and Other Physical Offences
1. Be proactive – It’s more effective to redirect a youngster than it is to punish him after the fact.
2. Be there – Don’t give a biter opportunity to get in trouble. Stay by his side and intervene when you see trouble coming.
3. Be attentive – Respond to the “victim” first. Don’t pick the biter up — even if it’s to reprimand him, he may take even negative attention as reinforcement for doing it again.
4. Be calm – Your child will learn more from this experience if he is reprimanded in a firm but neutral voice.
5. Be firm – Set your child an arm’s distance away and say to him, “Don’t bite. Biting hurts.”
6. Be realistic - Have confidence in your child’s natural goodness and in his ability to make positive changes — but expect change to come about slowly.
7. Be appreciative - Praise your child whenever he handles himself well.