Bite Me!

Brian, the cutie that he is, is a biter. Ouch. I don’t know how to get him to stop. Whenever I try, he just giggles. I understand that he thinks we are playing a game and he is doing it for the fun and attention. Max laughs heartily in the background and that doesn’t help the situation. So, if any of you have suggestions on how to get him to stop, I would appreciate you sharing them with us.

Categorized as Brian

By Kevin Lawver

Web developer, Software Engineer @ Gusto, Co-founder @ TechSAV, husband, father, aspiring social capitalist and troublemaker.


  1. Feed him a sour apple, or cover ourselves in sour apples? Sounds like a vampire defense… well, actually, that makes sense. Bring on the garlic!!

  2. Bite him back. Hard — not hard enough to break skin or anything, but hard enough to make him wince or cry.
    Then ask him how he feels. Ask him if you made him angry, or hurt, or what. Ask him if he thinks you feel that way when he bites you. Explain to him that when he bites you, it hurts, it makes you sad, and it’s not fun.
    At the early ages, you can’t try to rationalize with a pre-rational being. You have to frame the behavior in terms that are real and tangible to him. Things that he has solid understanding of. Also important is a strong amount of immediacy.
    You shouldn’t have to do this routine more than 4-5 times before he “gets it.” It’ll also help him develop empathy for other people’s feelings which is important both for his own development of self and identity along with the realization and understanding that other people outside him also have feelings, even if he can’t feel them directly.
    Good luck, Kevin. It’s a long, strange trip …

  3. Boy did you open a can of worms asking for parenting advice. 🙂 I googled ” toddler who bites” and the first hit has this tidbit…
    “If your child bites don’t re-tell and laugh about the incident in front of your child, no matter how funny it actually was. You hear of parents biting their child back so they know how it feels it be biten. This makes absolutely no sense if you think about it and look at this through the childs perspective. The child bites someone, is told that you don’t bite people and then gets bitten by Mom or Dad. Where is the consistency here? There isn’t any.
    The child will learn from the Time-Out method as long as you are firm and consistant. He will learn that biting is unacceptable and that it will not go unpunished. Parents will also be a good role model by not biting their child back. With this approach your home will be a happier healthier and safer place for everyone.”
    It goes on to say biting is out of anger or frustration at being unable to communicate. Just letting you know there are two sides to the “do it back to the kid” theory. When in doubt, follow your heart. I think it will tell you the right answer.

  4. Ouch, this is a tough one. I agree with Auntie M retelling the story or laughing will only cause more bites. And consistant Time Outs do work.
    Then again there is always body armor.
    Wishing you the best from NYC

  5. When all else fails, call your mother and ask her advice. She’s always right

  6. i would go with headgear. like, something in a hockey helmet with full face guard.

    for the kid, of course. can feed him through straws, long tea spoons, etc. sorta like hannibal lechter, but way cuter.

    hope this helps.


  7. Auntie M,
    I actually agree that biting the child back isn’t effective — at a certain age or stage of childhood development. If the child is mature enough to start developing the ability to rationalize and understand cause-and-effect, then by all means, don’t go biting the child back — it is poor modeling and communicates the wrong message.
    However, at the pre-rational stage of toddler development, during the “terrible twos” phase (which, despite the misnomer, can extend well past age two), children are still developing a sense of independence which is separate from their previous identity which was “part of Mommy and Daddy.” In that phase, they’re only learning that they have their own feelings and emotions which are separate and independent from Mommy, Daddy, and anyone else. That’s when it’s important to show that “just because you can’t feel someone else getting hurt, doesn’t mean they aren’t.”
    In the end, consistent behavior and good modeling will prevail. Help the child become rational by clearly defining boundaries (i.e., “if you bite, you will get a time out”) and be consistent (always follow through).
    Thanks for pointing out the gap in my message. You’re definitely right.

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