biting-toddlerYup. He bites. He also pushes and tackles. The pushing and tackling started about a month ago. The biting started monday. What do you do when your toddler bites another kid? What’s the action plan? You want to know what I did? I cried.

I was at our weekly library group, something that has only recently started back up, and W had already tackled two kids and pushed another kid. With each offense I jumped in and stopped his play and asked him to tell his playmate that he was sorry. And he did that sort of sing-songy, doesn’t look at anyone or anything, “sawwy”.

The bite happened after some perfectly fine parallel play with a younger girl and some foam blocks. W knocked his tower down and the girl (under two) decided to follow W’s prompt and knock her tower down. W was so overwhelmed by this action that he tackled her in what seemed to be an overly enthusiastic embrace but quickly turned into her screams. I pulled him off and looked at the girl and there, on her tiny little cheeks, was a bite mark. No teeth, no blood, but sort of a bite with his lips. Within seconds it was red on her face.

I couldn’t get W to look at her to apologize. She was so shocked and I was so shocked. Here was this little girl screaming in tears because of MY CHILD. I wanted to force him to look at her – so he could see her hurting. Maybe it would trigger some realization that his action had a very negative reaction. But he just squirmed and twisted in my arms and shouted out his “sawwy” until I let go.

I took on his biting as if it was something larger than it was. Yes, I know that toddlers bite and I know that they push and tackle. I know that it can be a phase. But knowing that your child was responsible for hurting someone is hard. Knowing that the sobs and tears of a little kid were the direct result of the actions of your son…I couldn’t help but feel personally responsible. Like a failure. Of course it doesn’t help that I was so exhausted on Monday that I was just barely hanging on by a thread to my emotional tether.

The biting was the final strike for the morning and I collected W and we left the group play area. I feel like being around new kids or in a new routine was some sort of stress trigger for him. ugh! I honestly have no idea.

I’ve been looking up information on biting and toddlers and there is a wide pool of stuff out there. Most people cling to the notion that it is a phase that will (hopefully soon) be outgrown. But then there are people who suggest demonstrating how much biting hurts by biting your child back. SAY WHAT?!

The research says that W could be biting and pushing because of stress, anger, or built up aggression. He could also be doing this because I am not giving him enough one on one time. Thanks for that “research” – because I didn’t feel guilty enough about parenting choices 1-46.

It’s all so unnerving because I want him to be able to express his feelings, but I don’t want him to think touching another person aggressively is ever ok. The other thing we have going on here is his physical size. Because he is that much taller/bigger than many kids his age one push doesn’t just cause a kid to step back or stumble their balance, it lands them flat on their back with a thwack.

I’m continuing to work with W on words and his vocab is increasing so hopefully with MORE words he will be able to express himself verbally instead of physically. In the meantime it is just such a hard place to be. The Mom of That Toddler.

Did you have a pusher or biter? How did you survive the phase?

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