Tag Archives: biting

She Says… Mo’ Molars

Owen started teething relatively late (his first tooth didn’t pop through until 9 months), but then once they started coming in, they seemed to come in all at once. Four at a time, sometimes, and all of them were in by 18 months. 12-18 months was a blur of rough nights and whiny days (in retrospect, of course). BUT! It was actually better for us (me?) since they came in such a compressed time frame so that I wasn’t constantly complaining about teething and dealing with a sad kid for months on end. I’m very  much a “get the bad part over with first” type of person. Don’t drag it out.

Since he got top and bottom molars around 18 months, I thought those were the ones everyone called “2 year molars”. I thought that we were done for awhile. Like, a long while. Life from 18 months – 2 years has been filled with great sleep, few illnesses, and little to no medicine. Smooth sailing in the physical discomfort department.

Then yesterday I was skimming one of those “Your kid is two! Here’s what he/she should be doing” emails and it mentioned something about 20 baby teeth. I hadn’t ever counted, but 20 seemed like a high number. So last night while I was brushing Owen’s teeth, I counted. And… dun dun DUN. He only has 18. Which means we’ve got 2 mo’ molars to go. This chart was helpful for me to see which ones he has and which are still to go.

Damn.

Actually, I think they may be coming soon. The last week Owen has been fighting a snotty nose and waking up at night crying. He always quickly soothes himself back to sleep, but of course I’m sitting bolt upright in bed listening to him cry. He’s been crying at the drop of a hat when things don’t go his way during the day too, which is not normal for him. I never know whether to chalk that type of behavior up to him being 2 years old and testing limits, or something more physical that he can’t pinpoint, like an ear infection or teething. So far, for us, it’s always been the latter in the past. But of course you never know that until AFTER the tooth pops through or the fever spikes.

So a few days ago I started taking his temp and looking for any other signs of an ear infection. Got nothin’ except a whole lot of rare-for-Owen attitude. But he has been putting his fingers in his mouth recently (a habit that irks me to no end; I think it’s gross) and even acted like he was going to bite my arm when I tried to wash him in the bath last night. Both are behaviors that he’s only done in the past during the dark months of super teething. His teacher mentioned that he pushed several of his friends yesterday at school, including pushing one friend until she cried and fell on the floor. In the past when we’ve dealt with physical aggression it has always stemmed from an ear infection or teething — he only seems to hurt others when he is hurting.

I’m doing my best to realize this when he’s acting like a pill. When he’s whining and crying in an out-of-character way. When he’s acting out and hitting/pushing/biting. I’m trying to let the past inform our future, and to recognize that maybe it’s because he’s not feeling well. It doesn’t make biting ok, but it helps me be more empathetic and not just annoyed with his behavior. I’m trying to remind myself that in a short period of time, my sweet kid will be back.

Molars, I hate you.

She Says… “No”, “Bite” and “Push”

Remember the bad case of the “No Daddy”s that Owen had a few weeks ago? Well, we seemed to have curbed that behavior, for the most part, with some positive redirection (“We don’t say ‘No Daddy’. How about we say ‘Hi, Daddy!’ Or, ‘love you, Daddy!’”). Once in awhile a “No Daddy” still escapes those little lips, but usually it is more of a joke or saying it with a smile to get a reaction from us.

But now the “No _____s” have taken an unfriendly turn.

At daycare this morning when I dropped Owen off, he was the first to arrive (as usual). He sat at the little table and started his breakfast while his little friends came in. As soon as his classmate Lily walked in, Owen was all, “Noooo Lily! Push Lily! NO LILY.” Mind you, he didn’t actually push her, but he said the words and stretched his arms out to keep her at arm’s length. But she wasn’t even trying to touch him. In fact, she wasn’t doing anything at all but taking off her coat with her mom.

After school sometimes on the drive home, I’ll be asking him about his day and he’ll stretch his arms out and say, “Noooo Keira! Push Keira.” Or sometimes even, “Bite Keira”. I know from talking to his teachers that he isn’t actually pushing or biting (usually…), but that he’s been saying “No” to his friends A LOT recently. I guess this is a better behavior than being physically aggressive, but it’s still not very nice. But then again, what does a 2 year old know (or care) about being nice?

It’s a fine line, you know? We teach him to talk about his emotions and tell us in words what is bothering him. And then when he’s actually trying to express it, we respond by telling him, “We don’t say ‘No’ to our friends”. It’s contradictory. It’s confusing. I get it.

His teachers and I think it has to do with attention (which certainly harkens back to last week’s post about giving him my undivided attention 100% of the time when we are together). He likes to be the only kid in the room. The star. The little ham. The center of attention. When another kid walks in the room, bam! he’s got competition. So he reacts in a very natural way, he says “No” and tries to push them right back out the door. Maybe this is Owen’s way of struggling with realizing that he’s not the center of the universe. I think that’s where a lot of the “No Daddy”s came from too. He wanted to have me all to himself, and Daddy was encroaching on his territory.

Even though I can understand where it’s coming from, it’s still not a nice behavior. Just like with the biting incident, I want him to know that his actions can hurt his friends (both physically and emotionally), and that it’s not ok to yell “No” in someone’s face and to talk about pushing and biting them. While I know it’s a totally normal behavior, I don’t want other kids or other parents to think he is mean or aggressive.

I’m struggling too, I guess. I don’t want him to be a bully. But he’s not really being a bully… he’s being 2 years old.

Does your toddler do things that seem mean or aggressive to other kids? As the parent, do you feel responsible for that behavior? Or have you seen other kids be “mean” to your kid? Do you blame the child or the parent in that situation?

She Says… A Biter.

Rationally, I knew this day would come, in some form or fashion.

By the time they’re in preschool, most children have bitten someone at least once, as well as been on the receiving end of an unfriendly chomp.
- Babycenter.com

I mean, toddlers are toddlers. They get frustrated. They push and hit and… bite. And it’s not mean or aggressive or bullying. It’s just toddlers being toddlers.

But emotionally, when the day came (TODAY!), I was unprepared. I felt irrationally guilty (that MY child hurt someone else) and shocked (that my sweet little cuddler could lash out in such an aggressive way) and sad (both for him, that he was so frustrated he felt the urge to bite, and for the little person he chomped down on).

Owen’s teacher: Hi, Kate. I wanted to let you know we just had a little incident at school today.

Me: Ah, ok. Another one? (I was thinking we were talking about Owen jumping off of something or running into a counter and getting a big bruise or a bloody lip, like the calls I’ve gotten in the past. The kid is a bruiser.) What happened?

Teacher: Well, Owen bit one of his friends today.

Me: He did what?! He BIT them?! He has never bitten at home before. Umm, I’m so… sorry… what happened?

Teacher: Owen was playing in the play kitchen with a friend and he wanted to use the sink. He tried pushing the friend to move them out of the way, and when they didn’t move, he bit them.

Me: Oh my goodness! What do you do, in that situation?

Teacher: We treated it the same as if he had hit someone. We lovingly let him know that biting was not ok, and that he hurt his friend. We acknowledged what he wanted to be doing (“I see that you are frustrated because you want to use the sink”) and offered him words to explain his frustration, rather than actions. He comforted the friend with us and could tell they were sad because of what he had done. It’s completely developmentally appropriate and is something we will continue to work on with Owen and his friends.

We went on to discuss tactics we can use at home to curb this behavior and help him express his frustration with words rather than actions. Despite knowing how normal this is, man, I felt overwhelmingly guilty.

Huh.

So MY KID is the biter.

I didn’t really know how to react. When I called Benjamin after hanging up the phone with Owen’s teacher, I couldn’t stop laughing. I don’t know, maybe it’s like laughing at a funeral. I felt emotional about what had happened, but I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to do. So I laughed.

I take comfort in Babycenter.com once again:

Many preschoolers bite once, get help with it, and never do it again.

This article has some great suggestions on how to react when your kid is the biter.

One thing I can definitely do immediately is stop “play biting” at home. When I’m putting Owen in his pajamas at night, I often play at biting his feet and “eating” him all up. He thinks it’s hilarious. He giggles until he can barely breathe. He’ll often ask for my elbow (he thinks elbows are hilarious too) and pretend to bite it. I pull it away, mostly out of fear that he might actually bite me, but it has turned into a game. And Lord knows he bites when we floss his teeth. But this article (and a particularly hilarious Modern Family episode) notes that even play biting can encourage kids to bite in other situations. See? Guilt. “I did this to him!”.

We’re going to work on it. While I know biting is not ok and is something to address with Owen in a variety of ways, I can also see, quite clearly, that it is just misplaced emotions. Here’s hoping we can get those emotions expressed in different ways, though. I don’t want to raise a bully!

Has your child acted aggressively toward another child? What did you do? What did the other child’s parent do? Generally I tend to be more in the “leave kids alone to figure out how to work things out” camp, instead of intervening at every turn. However, when hitting and biting are involved, I think I need to take a stronger approach.