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Help! My toddler is bitting and pulling hair!


savigota
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Hello everyone:

 

I have a 22 month old son who has started bitting and pulling hair and will not pay attention when I ask him to stop. He is currently attending preschool but now it has gotten to a point where he has bitten his teacher, a classmate and pulled the hair of two other children.

 

It all started last month when we went on vacation to my parents house (they live abroad) and we stayed there for a month. He was constantly being stimulated there and pampered since my family never gets to see him so when they do they are all over him. Welll one day he just started bitting everyone. He bites and then smiles and giggles when I scold him. He things of it as a game. I am firm when I tell him that he shouldnt do that because he is hurting "mommy" or whomever he is bitting... instead of stopping he'll try even harder to bite me anywhere.

 

since i got a complain from his teacher, I started paying close attention to this matter and now at home he won't bite me... he'lll try but then when I ask him not to do that because its not right, because it hurts, etc... he'll stop but then try to bite me in a playful way... and then afterwards will go at his father and REALLy bite him.

 

I don't know what else to do because both my husband and me are firm with him when he misbehaves in this matter but he doesnt seem to care and will either ignore us or as i said before, will giggle and keep on doing it.

 

Well after I kind of "controlled" the bitting toward me here in the house, as a sort of complain, when I scold (i hate this word it sounds so strong)him, he starts pulling on my hair... I guess to show disagreement. It has gotten to a point were he will pull my hair(very forcefully by the way) when he doesnt get his way on anything else.

 

To my surprise today, he strated combining both behaviors in school today and teachers are already telling me that it has become a problem and that I have to do something about it. I don't know what is going through his mind, he does not lack attention of any sort since I am a full time mom and Im always very loving and on top pf things with him. He is our first child and I really want to stop this behavior but I don;t know how. I wouldn't want him to come home from school with a bite mark or a chunk of hair pulled from his head... I would go crazy mad... I feel so frustated that my son would engage in this behavior.

 

Any ideas on how to address this issue? there haven't been any significant changes in his rutine other than the family vacation we took, and he seemed to have alot of fun... anyways it has been a month since he got back, he should already have gotten his "home rutine" back.

 

Please help me!

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forgot to mention that my baby does not talk yet so it is very difficult to communicate with him. I know he understands but since I do not have the ability to communicate with him verbally (ex: has mommy told you"? etc) it makes things for frustrating and difficult... Every day on our way to school I start talking to him that he has to be good and not bite his classmeates, etc but I don't think he is even paying attention to me!

 

Thanks again, and please send me as much advise as possible!

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Well, i don't know much about raising children.... (since i dont have one) but i took a class, and we discussed two methods of discipline.... Negative Punishment, and Positive Punishment....

Basically, Negative Punishment is when you take something away ( a toy, ability to do something he wants)

Positive Punishment is when you give him something (a spanking, slap on the wrist)

Each of these methods are supposibly useful... I personally dont really support positive punishment, but to each their own.... You may want to look into more ways to discipline than just simply "telling him" maybe he needs to have consequences for his actions? and that will show him that what he is doing will have negative consequences..... (Sorry, I'm speaking like a behaviorist and defintly treating your child like a lab rat;;;; ) but I know there are similiarities espeically at a young age...... Of course REAL mothers/fathers will probably have better advice

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savi - relax - as weird as this is going to sound, it's QUITE normal behaviour for a toddler that age. I'm assuming he's not talking much yet??

 

Unfortunatley, what he's doing is more instictive than the idea that it is wrong to do those things. That's where we come in. We have to encourage him to NOT do it because it's not OK.

 

Most often babies and young toddlers bite because they can not express themeselves verbally. Say words to him. "Are you frustrated?" "Are you angry?" "Do YOU want the toy?" Encourage him to use words.

 

Try to pay attention to WHEN he exhibits the behaviour and ask his teachers to do the same. Most often the biting is reactionary - not simply because he wants to.

 

If there is something he wants from another child, a toy, his juice etc. he may think to go, "uh." or say, "mine" and when that doesn't get him what he wants, he grabs...hair. And when he's really upset, he'll bite.

 

Maybe kids are taking things from him and his is only a reaction. If he's using biting to take toys, same premise.

 

Consistently take his hand and gently rub it accross your leg and say, "gentle" or "be nice" He'll start to associate that motion with those words. Soon, all you'll need are the words.

 

Be firm when he exhibits the biting orhair pulling behaviour with the same consistent punishment. And remind him to use his words. "I want the toy" Or ME want. What ever it is he is able to say.

 

He'll get it. Be patient, but consistent. And know that he's completely normal...

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Hi savigota. I think this website can help. You are not alone so many toddlers go through this stage. One of mine left a horrible mark on another child once I was mortified! I promise if you are consistent this phase will pass. It seems like this only lasted for about 2 and half weeks.

 

 

link removed

 

Good luck!

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Well, i don't know much about raising children.... (since i dont have one) but i took a class, and we discussed two methods of discipline.... Negative Punishment, and Positive Punishment....

Basically, Negative Punishment is when you take something away ( a toy, ability to do something he wants)

Positive Punishment is when you give him something (a spanking, slap on the wrist)

 

Just wanted to challenge this - first off, it's an oxymoron - isn't it? Positive punishment?

 

And also, a slap anywhere is NEVER a good idea, especially for children under two who are exhibiting violent behaviour. That would feed the behaviour, not stop it.

 

I would like to know where you took a class that said a postive punishment is spanking?!!? I'd like to report that institution to....somewhere! shheeesh!

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forgot to mention that my baby does not talk yet so it is very difficult to communicate with him.

 

Ta Ree has some great advice. I also think the fact that he is not talking is a key. You think you are frustrated, your son will be far more so. He has all this stuff he wants to tell you but he can't and it makes him mad.

 

My neice did not talk until she was 4 (and even then not very well for a year or two). Her behaviour was very bad, very attention seeking. It cleared up almost overnight when she started talking.

 

Usually the issue with kids is not the activity itself, the activity is usually a manifestation of frustration or anxiety or anger.

 

My guess is you boy is starting to recognise that his peers are all talking and that is frustrating the hell out of him. He wants to talk to you and he is mad that he can't.

 

I agree with Ta Ree, it is biting and hair pulling is not totally unusual for a toddler and I am sure he will grow out of it.

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It sounds bad, but bite him or pull his hair back!

It'll make him understand what it feels like.

 

ummmmm..what the heck? Where is THIS ok to do?

 

I doubt a 22 month old will put together such a complex relationship between his frustration and himself being bit so that the next time he gets frustrated he'll think "well, when mommy bit me, that really hurt, maybe I shouldn't do that to this kid."

 

Please people, don't bite your children to teach them that biting is wrong. In fact, don't bite them for any reason, mmm-k?

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I keep my nephew all the time and I didn't do it, but a lot of older people have told me they did that (of course not hard) and it stopped the behavior.

 

I have heard this too Anna. My mother-in-law did it to my husband when he was a child. BUT, it does not teach what one thinks it should.

 

Cracking him accross the head with a baseball bat right after a naughty would probably cure him of that behaviour too, but we don't condone child abuse.

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I keep my nephew all the time and I didn't do it, but a lot of older people have told me they did that (of course not hard) and it stopped the behavior.

 

No you really should not do it (tempting as it may be at times). A toddlers brain just does not work like that. As someone else said, if they see an adult doing it it just affirms the behaviour. They won't associate the consequences with their future behaviours..

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thanks for your quick replies!

 

I will speak to his teacher tomorrow to see what is causing him to bite, what he is doing exactly when the bad behavior occurs. I am worried as when he does it here, at home,he is not really wanting anything, he just goes for it! For instance, we are in my bed cuddling and I am kissing him and he'll be doing the same, all of a sudden he'll get this really "strange" look on his face and will bite or pull hair. I am sure he DOES understands that he IS doing something wrong because before he does it he'll stop for a second and think on what he is about to do, he'll even get a little smirk on his face...

 

The not-talking issue does make alot of sense though...

 

I am scared that he'll get thrown out of his preschool because of this!

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Alot of older women told my sister and I this. I didn't know it was so terrible. Neither of us ever did it, but it was just some advice we were given.

 

Anna - really - I've heard it too. It IS an old school method. People have all kinds of adivce and you;ll have to take what makes sense to you and apply it how you will. I'm glad we got to you too though cos now you know a different way. No worries.

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The not-talking issue does make alot of sense though...

 

I am scared that he'll get thrown out of his preschool because of this!

 

Think about seeing a speech pathologist. There is nothing wrong with being a late talker except for the frustration he will feel. But a pathologist will number 1 give you a lot of great information and number 2 check to see if there is anything physiological holding back his speech (glue ear is an example of one common thing that can hinder speech development.)

 

As for getting kicked out of pre-school...do they do that? I think it is unlikely. The staff their should be trained in handling this sort of problem.

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Then it is most probably a combo of a trigger sometimes and the frustration of not being able to communicate effectively. Just keep repeating words to him. He WILL get it. He's not going to be 11 years old and still biting kids, so don't invest too much thought into him being in this stage.

 

Enlist the daycare's cooperation. Then they'll feel a part of the investigation and not so ready to boot him for a behaviour they've been asked to help correct.

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I already had him checked out and the doc said that there was no problem, that he was just a slow talker, he is starting to say a couple of words but mostly about objects not really actions or fellings. This as frustrating as can be for both of use doesn't worry me anymore...

 

about preschool throwing him out, the first time he bit, I spok eto the principal and she said not to worry that it wasn't a problam because the conduct could be changed , that the real problem was when it was recurrent, then they would have to see if it was safe for the other classmates and the school then would make a desicion... This was even before all this happen!

 

I personally love the school he attends and he loves it to.. every morning he is eagerly waiting at the door with his tiny backpack reay to go and when we reach the parking lot he gets so excited he'll start applauding....

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Ok so then I agree with Ta Ree. Get them involved, keep them informed about how you are managing the issue and what is or isn't working for you.

 

If they feel that you are doing all the right things and involving them I am sure that would encourage them to work with you on it.

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well, there may be - but don't be so hard on him.

 

And I strongly suggest getting the management of the daycare involved. Let them know immediately that you are aware of the issue, you've talked with his teachers, they're involved and together you will get to the bottom of it.

 

Once THEY'RE on you're side...you're in like Flinn....

 

( i dunno)

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tareesaw....

sorry, i should of clarified... i assume a bit too much i think ;;

Positive is the action of GIVING something.... and negative is the action of TAKING AWAY.

so a common misconseption is to say "Negative Reinforcement" alot of people assume this is reinforcing a "bad" behavior... when in reality this is reinforcing a behavior by taking something away..... such as taking tylenol... you take the tylenol to get rid of a headache... thereforeeee reinforcing the action of taking the tylenol...

 

so ya, another positive punishment would be making a child do chores.... which doesnt really apply here......

 

So ya, thats offtopic!! sorry, but wanted to defend my point a bit!!

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Children learn behaviour patterns from parents. Right now you are teaching him that if he bites, he gets lots and lots of attention, when you should be giving him none. It's easliy done and most parents do it, especially first time parents as everything is new and stressful.

 

This is turning into one big game for him. Take the fun out of it for him. Say in a really stern voice as soon as he 'goes' for it... NO that's naughty!!! and then get up, walk away and leave him standing alone. He will get a clear message that this is NOT a game, that the consequences of this action get him exactly the opposite of what he wants... attention. Be consistant.

Back this up with positive rewards and lots of praise when he does something good.

This action at home will help at school in the long run. It could also be helpful if your teachers understand what you are doing and try the same at school.

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