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Any advice on how to deal with it when your child is the one bitten at daycare? Is there anything I can do so she doesn't turn into a biter? I'm not sure if its too far after the fact by the time I bring her home.

Kat O+

My son seems to bite as a sign of affection. I think it's from all the kissing he gets when we cuddle him...his kisses start turning into nips. Generally, I just remind him about the no biting rule when it seems like he's becoming a little too excited. Sometimes he'll turn away and start biting my shirt or a cushion instead and I let him do this a couple of times (to let it out of his system) before invoking the biting rule. That's not bad, is it?

Mary, does your strategy for biting work equally well for other anti-social behaviours...say, kicking your cousin when no one's looking???


This is great and I'm going to forward it to my Mom. My 2-year-old only bites her and myself and never his Dad/Grandpa. Although usually it is when he seems to be frustrated at a situation and doesn't have the right words at the right time, he will also bite to prolong bedtime by having a time out. For time outs he will not stand in the corner or sit in a chair, he must be held in place. The door to his bedroom doesn't shut properly so putting him in his room for a timeout isn't an option at the moment.

He has been in daycare for about 7 months now and (knock on wood) has never bitten anyone there. In fact, one time he bit me in front of one of the teachers because he didn't want to come home and she was shocked at his behavior. If I act shocked or sad that he's bitten me he will laugh and then pretend to bite again to get another response... Is he just needing more attention? We play with him all the time, read books, and include him in almost everything we do. This also seems to go in cycles: some weeks we have time-outs several times a day for biting and then a week might go by with no time-outs at all. I wish I could climb into his mind and figure out what's going on it there!

Mary P

Emily - While it's possible she'll learn to bite having witnessed it, it's not a given. You're right: several hours after the event, there's not much that can be done from your end. It's the sort of thing that has to be caught at the moment. (You have any thoughts on this one, Laura?)

Meantime: has she been bitten only the once, or is it a repeat problem? Was it a random one-off, or is she being targetted by a particular other child? The former is just one of those things; the latter is a more significant problem that would need to be addressed with the daycare staff.

Kat - Small children do nip in excitement as well as in aggression, and your response is fine for the excitement-nips. Me, I wouldn't let him bite my shirt, either: too close to my skin! I'm seeing this as strictly a parental judgment call, though. No right or wrong way - the 'right' way is the one that discourages you getting nipped without demeaning the child.

Does my approach work for other anti-social behaviours? Yes, it does.

Mary P

Krista - you must've been posting as I was typing my comments.

He never bites Dad or Grandpa? What are they doing differently to you and your Mom? That's the place to start. They know your child, and they're on the spot - and they're getting the treatment YOU want. What are they doing?? There's something to be learned here...

From your description, I doubt his biting has anything to do with the amount of attention he's getting.

As for the bedtime scenario you describe? If biting occurs in order to stall bedtime, the response is clear to me: not a time out, because in this situation time out is what he's after. It's a reward, not a deterrent.

Your response can be much clearer and more immediate: one bite, or even attempted/threatened bite, and he's tossed into bed immediately. The normal bedtime routines are *instantly* ended. Full stop, no negotiations, no second chances. I don't think you'd have to do that very often (perhaps only once) to put a stop to that behaviour!


Mary, Thank you. Its so nice to have such great help figuring these things out! The topics you both have presented since starting PIP have been helpful to me, and I feel a little less alone in the sea of toddler-hood! (I guess you're part of my village.)

Laura S.

Emily -- Mary is right. Just because she witnesses biting (or experiences it!) does not mean she will imitate it. Imitation is just one possible reason for the behavior. Also, some children just don't bite. Instead, they may have other ways of expressing some of the feelings listed above.

Krista -- regarding the time-out at bedtime, Mary hit it spot-on! Sometimes a time-out can actually be a reward!!

Kat -- Mary's strategy works very well for nearly any type of aggressive behavior.

Liz Hernandez

My son has a biting problem. We have done everything being stern sending him to time out. and even spanking him on the butt I dont know what else to do. My brother in law has told us that we are bad parents. my son just bite his son I think is because he gets excited to see him. Please help my family is getting torn apart.

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It would be my pleasure to be a partner of yours. Im sure every step we makes is a road to success.

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