Monday, October 25, 2010

Toddler is biting and kicking

Questioner: Norah



We have an active 2.5 year old boy. He is very talkative and learned to talk at a young age, so we understand what he wants fairly well. Since the age of 1, he bitten us when he was upset, and sometimes it seems to happen randomly. We've always found ways of discouraging the behavior, and it goes away for a while then resurfaces. For the past 6 months he is consistently hitting, pinching, pushing and only occasionally biting.

Sometimes it happens when he's angry, but most often when we are asking him to change an activity that he's enjoying (e.g. get out of the bath, get up the dinner table, leave the playground). Other times he seems happy enough but will run up to us and start hitting. Or we'll be chatting and cuddling and he'll lean over and bite us (hard!). Our strategy now is time-outs for this behavior, and rewards when he is being cooperative. We worry that we're stuck in this pattern and that our strategy isn't working.

Dear Norah,

You state that, "we understand what he wants fairly well." So why would this child have to use his "words" to get what he wants?

His behavior is not acceptable. I certainly hope he is not behaving this way around other children and victimizing them as well.

I strongly suggest that you STOP doing what obviously is not working for him. How is he suppose to function around other children?

Do stop responding to his needs without his words. I suggest getting plenty of books with feeling words to teach him how to identify his feelings and matching the word to go with them. Also get books on behavior. Start reading these to him right away.

His behavior will probably get very much worse as you change how you respond to him. He will act out terribly to get you to do what you have always done. If you give in just one time and respond like you did before you will be starting all over again.

You need to STOP guessing at what he wants and seriously allow him to use his words!

Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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