Kids Biting Kids

Having 2 boys a mere 2 years apart means there is going to be a lot of wrestling, roughhousing, and fighting in our house over the next few decades.  Max is 3 and Dodge is 1.  Max is overly aggressive with Dodge and often knocks him over, grabs him by the face, and is generally unaware that he is too rough with him.  In return Dodge has mastered an NFL-ready stiff arm, a two-handed defensive shove, and total mastery of the word “no.”  This morning Dodge was not going to put up with any of Max’s antics.  Who knows what happened prior to the incident.  Maybe Max tackled him at one point or maybe nothing happened at all.  Whatever happened…Dodge left his mark on Max today, literally.  At about 8:40 AM Max gave Dodge a very nice brotherly hug.  It wasn’t too rough, it wasn’t an apology, it wasn’t anything other than a sign of affection.  During this hug Dodge turned his head and bit Max’s face as hard as he good causing Max to let loose a blood-curdling scream.  It sucks that Dodge did this during a moment of affection because I’d love to be able to say to Max, “You were too rough with Dodge and so he bit you.”  Instead, we are just saying, “Dodge doesn’t have words yet and this was his way of saying he didn’t want to be touched.”  Truth be told, its probably karma for that time Max bit a kid in the face at daycare.  What’s up with my kids biting other kids in the face?  Is this a kid thing or just my kids?  Seriously…biting…in the face?  Either way, Max has some sweet teeth marks on his left cheek to remind him not to mess with Dodge.  I guess we’re supposed to scold Dodge and teach Max to turn the other cheek?

Dodge (1) bit Max (3) the left cheek.
Dodge (1) bit Max (3) the left cheek.

UPDATE: 3 hours after publishing this post Dodge struck again!  this time he bit Max’s back.  Kate has dubbed him “Sir Chomps-A-Lot.”  Hopefully Max will steer clear of Dodge during this phase.

Dodge bit Max on his back this time!
Dodge bit Max on his back this time!

Perhaps Dodge is a piranha?

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2 thoughts on “Kids Biting Kids

  1. Simply frustration on Dodge’s part. While I understand you don’t want them hurting each other, it did work for Dodge. Max backed off.

  2. So I really hesitate to weigh in as the “mother-in-law,” but in this case let me put on my “former Dean who had a child care center under her supervision and learned A TON from the early childhood educators who advised me when I had to deal with angry or panicky parents” hat.
    Pre-verbal kids are especially likely to “bite” on a face or on an arm or a leg, but most often it happens the first few times by CHANCE, not pre-meditated, more like my mouth was close to his skin like any other toy in the environment, a totally RANDOM contact, no matter what the adults THINK they saw.
    Unfortunately, once the pre-verbal sees the results, the power, the control he/she gets, it can become not so much intending to HURT as continuing to test, how all humans learn, what will happen next! Not to hurt, not planned yet, NOT a response to other kids’ behaviors YET. Not to hurt, but “to leave me alone” even, is a step in logical consequences mostly beyond the pre-verbal toddler, or the toddler, but gradually can become a successful reaction to aggressive behavior, or even can become cause and effect behavior, mostly understandable that way to older kids, which is why the behavior usually extinguishes itself as kids grow up. Or why one can explain that “biting causes pain and fear, and you would not want that to happen to you,” to the fours and fives, and to a few three-year-olds as they learn to share, to understand and remember consequences, and as the tiniest beginnings of empathy develop.
    But the wrong connection CAN get made as the child continues to experiment, and it is much harder to break after that.
    Biting among pre-verbal children is MOST likely to occur during TEETHING, like Dodge is doing right now. Highly tactile games and activities, sand and water and sandpaper and wood play, blocks, and lots of chewy foods (for real!), things a child can hold and gnaw upon, soothing of sore gums with ice rings, or a Popsicle, and NOT OVER-REACTING by adult caregivers, or parents of the “biter” or the “bitee,” are the sensory-stimulating, research-proved methods of down-playing the potential weapon that biting become!This must be a communal effort by families and care-givers at child care and a home for a few weeks working together, communicating with each other, if it is to work.
    Biting things is part of every human child’s process of growth and survival. Biting as a self defense, or as attention-getting, or as power, or as control of one’s environment, is learned, as experiments and thinking processes develop.
    I am no expert, but these are the things I learned and saw in practice at Kirkwood Kids that worked if the grown-ups worked together! Good luck! LUV and HUGS to Max and to Dodge–so NOT really “a perp” at this stage!

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