Well folks, it finally happened to me. My perfect angel ahead-of-the-curve baby girl is morphing into a Real Child. With behavior that needs to be corrected.
Specifically? Biting. HELP US.
It began last week as Syd played with her cousin RW, who is 5 months older. Like most toddlers, RW is not accustomed to sharing his toys in his own home. He has a 4-month-old baby sister and a dog … and still has the unchallenged rule of his own household. My daughter enjoys the same rule over her own home and when she saw all the new! exciting! toys! at her cousin's house she very naturally helped herself and was shocked to find that taking something away from her cousin to play with was Not Nice. When we came to visit the kids at first played happily! Excitedly! Days one, two and three were magical. There were only a few "fussy" incidents between the little ones and they all ended amicably.
My SIL and I stood at the counter in the kitchen chatting when we heard a commotion in the den not two feet away. When we looked up RW's face was twisted in pain and he had a firm grip on Syd's face. Both had hands clenched on the same toy. We went into full-on mama mode and when we pulled them apart I saw it: A huge, red bite mark on RW's forearm. You guys, there was a PERFECT INDENT of each and every tooth on his poor arm.
First of all? MY POOR NEPHEW.
Second? HOW EMBARRASSING.
Third? WHAT DO WE DO!?!?!
Syd was instantly in the longest time-out she's ever had. I took her downstairs to the guest room and plopped her in her empty pack-n-play. John was off hiking somewhere and I was so beside myself (she'd already not 15 mins earlier stolen a PARING KNIFE out of drawer in her aunt's kitchen and taken off RUNNING DOWN THE HALLWAY WITH IT) that I called him and DEMANDED he come home NOW. I sat on the couch in near tears waiting for him to get home. We disciplined in our usual way, and by the time we were done practically had Syd chanting the phrase "NO BITING!" for the rest of the day. We hoped that this would be the first and last time it happened.
We asked the grandparents that night what they thought about it. My MIL told us that my husband at three years old was still a major biter. She got so desperate that she finally followed Dr. Dobson's advice … and bit him back. HARD. They both cried, but it worked. He never bit again. We took to the bookstore and the internets. How to discipline a two-year-old biter? Do you bite back? (According to most books? No.)
The basic strategy we agreed on was to pay more attention to the victim than the offender. One book said "don't give your child intense attention when she bites. This will encourage her to continue the action for attention. Pay attention to the victim and make it clear to your child that you are unhappy with what they have done." So we did it.
And the next day? She bit her cousin lightly ON THE FACE. We mooned over him and ignored her when it happened. We still admonished her (in low, calm tones) and she served a time-out. She made her apologies to her cousin and they played nicely the rest of the day under our watchful eyes.
And the next day? She bit him again on the arm. And then? SHE BIT HER FATHER (on the finger). And then? At church back home? She bit her friend on the hand.
Yesterday she bit John again on the hand. HARD. She has yet to bite me. I'm guessing it's only a matter of time.
I have heard it told that if you bite three times you get your butt tossed out of preschool. I have heard it told that I was a biter when I was an, er, ankle-biter. (SORRY MOM.) We've also noticed that she's getting her two-year molars on the top. We pray regularly that as soon as they come in she'll quit. But. WHAT IF THEY TAKE MONTHS TO FINALLY CUT?
Kill me. Just … yeah.
My thoughts are: GREAT. JUST IN TIME FOR A NEW BABY. And also? How do we nip this in the bud quickly? Any recommendations? Because this is a turn of events I was (STUPIDLY) NOT planning on. Please. HELP US.