Toddler Thursday: Biting

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Categories Ask the Readers, Behavior, Development, Different Gender, Discipline, Fraternal, Multiple Types, Parenting, Safety, Toddler Thursday, Toddlers

When the twins were about 15 or 16 months old, I started noticing what looked like bite marks on Baby Boy’s hands. It was an anomaly, as no one had observed him biting himself or being bitten. For a bit I actually thought they were self-inflicted in a temper tantrum, or maybe it was an experiment to leave marks on himself. It wasn’t until I saw a mark at the wrong angle to be self-inflicted that I began to suspect Baby Girl of biting her brother.

Strangely, it wasn’t for another while before we actually caught them in the act. And then Baby Girl began to get these markings too. They were really good about doing it quickly when no one was watching though.

But by now, 5 or 6 months later, we’ve had the chance to see them at it many times. They’re still pretty stealthy about it, but we now know what to watch for: a certain prolonged guttural screech, usually coming from both parties in a fight over something, and then a quick lean-over by one, a pause of silence while the pain registers, and finally the extended agonizing cry of the other.

The problem is when they play in close proximity. And of course that’s how they almost always play. If they are confined in the same room for a while, that’s when the conflicts arise. They get cranky and will start fighting over toys and space. Big Sis actually got caught up in it for the first time this past weekend. We can’t really be sure what happened, but according to her she was trying to play with her brother when sister came and bit her, hard enough to leave a bruise. We think Baby Girl was trying to play with brother. There wasn’t much warning, and they did all this while both myself and their dad were in the same room!

Now I really don’t think my kids are malicious. I’ve watched them bite and get bitten and then go back to playing alongside each other like nothing happened. In fact, after Baby Girl noticed her sister crying after being bitten, she went to comfort her by rubbing her arm and giving her a hug and kiss. (Big Sis was just as loving, forgiving immediately and defending her little sister from our scoldings.) They just get caught in the moment and that is their only form of communication when screaming doesn’t work.

However, the bites are getting more vicious, and they’re no longer on the hands but on the upper arms. And now they’ve bitten someone other than themselves.

Should I be concerned? Is this something that they will grow out of? Is this a twin thing? I certainly wouldn’t want them to be that kid in preschool, the one who bites. We’re at a loss as to what to do, but they seem to be getting over the bites very easily. It doesn’t even faze them that their arms are all bruised up for days, but we are really just baffled at and bothered by this behavior.

Any MoM’s out there who can help us out?

lunchldyd is mom to 21mo biting b/g twins, and their 4yo sister who never bit.

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lunchldyd

lunchldyd is mom to 3 year old boy/girl twins and their 5.5 year old sister. She is now teaches part-time to juggle the needs of her young children. When not at work and the kids are asleep, she is addicted to watching TV and sometimes sacrifices sleep to read in bed. She lives in the Los Angeles suburbs with her husband, three kids, and two dogs.

2 thoughts on “Toddler Thursday: Biting”

  1. My guys bit each other too, though I am not quite sure when it started (maybe around the same age). Soon after I saw them biting each other (not the “I’m teething an I am going to gnaw on my sibling kind of biting”, but the other kind) I bought the book “Teeth are not for biting”. We read it together and whenever one bit the other, I would break it out and we would read it on the spot. There is a line in there that says “Ouch, biting hurts” and I would say that whenever they bit or tried to bite. The behavior went away pretty quickly once we gave it some context.
    There is also a similar book called “Hands are not for hitting”. Hitting has taken longer to phase out, but the book has been helpful too.

  2. My daughter has a habit of biting more often when she’s teething. (I only have one, so no sibling biting) She also bites when she gets really excited. We did something similar and pretended that we really got hurt. She learned what a boo boo was and will now kiss our boo boos and the biting has diminished. If she gets in a mood, we do use a time out. Good luck.

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