Monday, August 16, 2010

One of my twins is teething and biting the other... any advice?

Question from a CMOTC mom:

One of my boys biting the other. He is teething. He seems too young to truly understand that it's wrong. Anybody have this issue? The other twin, when he was teething at this stage, often tried to bite me or other adults but never his brother. Any suggestions?


Advice/experience from CMOTC moms:

We did time outs at that age, for one minute. We just repeated over and over "no biting, that hurts brother..." and then offered him a teething ring or toy that he could gnaw on. They are two now and one still bites the other occasionally, but it's not teething, it's anger!


You probably received a bunch of responses, but since I just went through this with my son biting his sister (14 months - 15 tomorrow), I thought I'd share what seems to have worked.

As you probably know, it's usually the result of frustration. So the first thing you need to do is watch the biter and learn his "tells" or "signs" right as he starts to get frustrated. When you notice he is getting frustrated, give him something that is acceptable to bite -- teether or some other bite-able toy. If you miss the sign and he goes into biting mode, grab him before he gets the deed done if you can or after if you can't, tell him firmly "no bite", and put him in a time out in a play pen away from and out of sight of his brother. It is a pain, but be very consistent with the time out. (We kept Connor in the playpen for about a minute or two.) We did this with Connor and after about a week, he stopped going after his sister. He would look at her, but go into a mini-tantrum on the floor instead of biting her. We'd them give him the teether toy to bite and try to resolve whatever was frustrating him -- usually he couldn't figure out a toy or wanted something from the toy box and couldn't get it. Sometimes he wanted a toy she had, or he was jealous of some attention she was getting at the moment. It did work and, knock on wood, he hasn't had a biting episode for 3 weeks now. The only other thing we did was give him positive reminders when he was being good, like "Thank you for not biting your sister," or "You are playing very nice. Thank you." We're still doing the reminders and the teether in hopes of avoiding a relapse.

Keep in mind that biting is normal behavior for kids. They are not weird or anything and there is nothing wrong with you as a parent. This is just the first opportunity of many we will have to teach our kids what's acceptable and what's not.


My kids were binkie babies so during this time I ALWAYS had them in their mouths. It's kind of a pain if you're trying to wean them off or if your kids don't use them. I found that it gave them something to chew on. Also, if I didn't have the binks in, they would naturally find ANYTHING to put in their mouths which often times was something that shouldn't be or obviously another child...

Also, you'd be surprised what words/language children do understand. It's important to get down on the ground to their level & look them in the eye to stay "no biting' or "we don't bite", not nice or that hurts people. Whatever term you come up with, use it over and over again. Consistency is important and they'll get it, trust me.

BTW teething rings didn't work so well for us. I did use a lot of Tylenol or Motrin around the clock & don't be shy. Teething can be a long & miserable process. It helps w/the pain & swelling. Just ask your Peds for their dosing recommendations or any other treatment options (ie: Orajel, frozen waffles...).


My daughter was a biter. The doctor said when she is able to talk it will get better. He was right. She still has her moments of anger and biting but not very often. Good luck to you!


We did a lot of redirect at that age. A harsh "We don't bite. Biting HURTS." and move to something else. Give something that IS appropriate to nibble on and encourage that. If it was repeated, then we'd give attention to the victim and ignore the biter after correction. When mine got a bit older, then we used apple cider vinegar, but that was maybe older 2s and 3s. Still use it for repeated disrespect. Others I know have used Tabasco, but really not at 1.

One thing I always remember is that they know more than they let on or than they can communicate. And if you watch how they learn and understand, try the "dropsie" game with them. When they drop their toy from the stroller or high chair, you pick it up and give it back. Then they drop again, and you dutifully pick it up. You could go on all day and YOU would be well trained. If you stop it on the 1st or 2nd one, they realize they can't play that game all day and it will stop (eventually). So they ARE capable of understanding a lot. They do have short-term memory so they'll keep trying, but you can't let them get away with biting EVER. I don't mean they should be punished, but should be redirected. If it's really bad, then a few minutes in a play pen, away from the action (with appropriate teething toys) would be warranted. The victim does deserve some peace and to be able play without fear and I wouldn't call that a time out. Just some "alone time". And really just a minute or two for everyone to cool off and become interested in something else.

Good luck.


Follow up from CMOTC mom who originated the question:

Thank you for all your advice. We are trying the timeout/redirect. It doesn't seem to be a frustration thing, he's teething so he likes to bite and if his chunky brother happens to be there with a succulent looking arm... So, we are working on making him understand that brothers are not chew toys. ;)


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