We’ve Got a Biter

I don’t think I’ve ever been so angry at Will.

It started this week when he bit my father twice. Once it was hard enough to almost break skin. He was punished severely each time with a combination of time out, loss of his favorite toys and even a spanking when he copped an attitude after the fact and was seemingly unrepentant. It really took us by surprise because usually kids go through biting phases early in toddlerhood. But Will never did. And to bite my dad twice despite punishments had me miffed. But it turns out that was just the tip of the iceberg.

He bit another kid at preschool today.

The teacher told me what happened when I picked him up. They said he was playing with another boy and Will was pretending to be a dinosaur. Then he hauled off and bit another boy on the arm. Pretty much a carbon copy of what happened the times he bit my dad.

The rage that welled up inside me as Will’s teacher was telling me what happened was almost too much to contain. Seriously, I’m thankful there were plenty of people around because I would’ve given him the single biggest bare-assed spanking of all time. After all the talks we had about why biting is bad, how it hurts people, how mom and dad are disappointed whenever he does it. After all that, what does he do? He goes out and bites a kid.

Now before all the pseudo (and actual) child psychologists out there tell me he’s acting out because of all the big changes lately and blah blah blah, I get it. I understand big changes often bring about behavior that screams for attention. But he’s got our full attention. And the attention of my parents. This kid wants for nothing and yet he’s biting kids in class.

And since I’m being honest, it’s horribly demoralizing and humiliating to have the teacher tell you your kid is a biter. To have her point out older kids such as Will are usually well beyond that kind of thing, asking if everything is OK at home, etc. I wanted to hide under the nearest water table and never come out.

Seriously, I feel like I’m raising Hannibal Lecter. When I was helping him clean his room I kept worrying I’d find a human liver, fava beans and a nice bottle of chianti.

Not to mention we’re the new parents at the preschool and now we’re gonna be branded as the parents of the biter. I don’t care how thick you think your skin is, it’s really easy to crumble when it suddenly feels as though you’re the worst parents in the world when everyone finds out you’re raising a cannibal in training.

Ugh. We’re dealing with it as best we know how. I told him how disappointed I am in him. I asked him if he knows why biting is bad and he does, saying “Because it hurts people and that’s mean.” I’ve taken away his favorite toys and made it clear why he’s losing them and how good behavior can get them back. And even though I did get mad at him, I also told him I love him, we all make mistakes and that I know he’s a good boy. Other than that, I’m just not sure what else to do.

People always tell me to look for a silver lining. I guess if he ever becomes a professional soccer player whose plane crashes in the Andes, he’ll have no problem surviving. And, when he becomes an infamous serial killer in a couple of decades, perhaps I’ll stand to make a tidy profit when I sell the rights to his story.

Or this could mean he’s on the brink of becoming a famous sports broadcaster. Only time will tell.

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11 thoughts on “We’ve Got a Biter

  1. “With authority!” Tommy once bit a kid in preschool and that kid, who now lives in North Carolina but still has ties to Falmouth, was recently diagnosed with cancer. Tommy showed some sincere concern for the boy, even though the two of them haven’t been together since preschool. Tommy’s a good kid. Will’s a good kid. You are doing the right thing. A little jail time now will save jail time down the road.

  2. At the risk of being tarred and feathered for saying this. my nephew is 3.5 he’s started biting. He knows it’s wrong, but does it anyways. He bit me this summer. I bit him back. as hard as he bit me. He cried bloody murder. my dad came running, saw what transpired by the bite marks, shrugged and said “i had to do it with you and your brother.”

    I’m not saying bite your kid. But, I got to that point with my own son. I’d tried everything, and he was not getting it. Last time he bit me, I bit him back as hard as he bit me. He’s never bit me again. He said “it hurts mommy. ouch” and he won’t do it anymore. and I swear, I beat him more times than I can count, bare arsed every time. He cried, he screamed. But he still bit. The biting back is the only thing that has worked so far. I know I might get flak for that, but I know a lot of parents that, when I tell them this, I get the reply of “oh ya. I had to bite him/her too.”

  3. Corrective action at the moment then redirect, best we can do initially; though, I’m starting to wonder if we need to go directly to therapy with our lil dude. We been dealing with the biting and don’t think it’s as much of an issue. But now last night he’s gets reprimanded for playing with his utensils and says “I want to put a fork in mommy and daddy.” My husband overreacted a bit saying “what did you say” and getting quite upset, I just said that would not be nice that would hurt we don’t hurt people and forks are for eating eat your food… then Lil Man man started talking about something else and I had to remind my husband we don’t over emphasize the negative but move on to the next thing. Then at bedtime I put his pajamas on and he says I want you to saw off my leg here (points to his hip) and then says the same regarding his other leg. I just laughed and said how would you play ball if your legs were sawed off and quickly changed the subject. I just don’t know where the stuff that comes out of his mouth these days is coming from (are they watching scary movies in preschool, gosh I hope not). Luckily I don’t think mine’s been biting at school; perhaps when we got upset at him for biting us, he learned he shouldn’t be doing it (though he keeps threatening us.)

  4. My son was a late biter. Punishments and talks were done. Spankings issued. But what finally worked for him was total loss of what HE wanted to do. “Oh, I would love to take you with me to the store for and kiddo time, but I’m afraid you might hurt someone by biting.” Or, “That birthday party would be fun to attend, but since I don’t know if you’ll remember not to bite we’ll have to miss it.”

    Of course the immediate talks were needed, but missing out on activities and being reminded that it was because of the biting worked really well. It only took about a week of missing special times before the point FINALLY got through to him. We kept it going for about another week after that, but it was pretty well ingrained that his behavior dictated what he was going to be allowed to do.

    Now he’s 9, and the above still works. Personally, I’m shocked. Good luck!

  5. I think you and MJ are doing a great job with Will, with all you have been through, and giving him attention is what he needs, but I think it might be a little more than that.

    We had a baby and moved within 3 months. Charlie didn’t regress or bite, he just through lots and lots and lots of temper tantrums, he resorted to gibberish, not using clear sentences and extreme separation anxiety despite the undivided attention we gave him (almost to the expense of the baby). In addition to the move, we had to sell our house, which had Rick and I on edge and he started a new preschool. I think all the changes we through at him were just a little too much.

    It’s been 4 months since we moved, and things are starting to go right for him. He’s not throwing temper tantrums anymore, and he decided this week that he wanted to be potty trained.

    Keep doing what you’re doing. Once things level off a bit (it might be after Christmas) he will be better. In the meantime, ask your pediatrician for some tips.

  6. Apparently I don’t know the difference between through and threw. I need more coffee.

  7. If summonsed to court, I will categorically deny ever being bitten. On a stack of bibles. If there is a mark, I will say you did it.

  8. I bit the shit out of a bunch of kids and a teacher. I was subsequently booted from the preschool. But I turned out perfectly normal and adjusted so no worries!

  9. My fiancee’s daughter was a late biter. She bit several kids at her daycare. Nothing seemed to be working, so one day when she bit a kid, my fiancee had her bite her own hand hard. When she realized just how bad it hurt, she stopped biting people. My fiancee told her that if she bit anyone else, he would make her repeat biting herself until she stopped biting other people. Luckily she learned after the first time.

    I hope that things calm down for you all soon enough and he gets over the biting phase. You and your wife are wonderful parents, don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

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