Toddlerhood has entered our household!
Lily isn't yet 2, but her emotions and reactions suggest she's entering the "terrible twos" early. We're okay with it - it's normal for kids her age and she is wild and hilarious and fun partly because of her extroverted personality, the same personality that may be making these "twos" even harder. So you take the bad with the good :)
We take each day as it comes and try to love on her through it because a lot of these actions are beyond her control. I mean seriously, it should be called the Typical Twos not the Terrible Twos, because every toddler I know acts similarly, and if we keep that in mind it doesn't seem so terrible.
Biting is something Lily's done when over-tired or over-excited for near 8 months now.
I've done some research on biting, and it appears to be most common in those two scenarios.
See!? Typical, not terrible.
But we still need to deal with it because she is hurting Oli and us when she bites.
The article I read said not to overreact because that may encourage the behaviour.
OK. Can I just tell you how much I was overreacting when Lily would bite? A lot.
The second she bit anyone, we'd use a strong, stern voice and say NO BITING and give her a time out. That works with a lot of toddler disobedience (and I'd never call it overreacting), but biting is unique.
With biting, because it's very tied to over-excitement, over-tiredness, and emotions, strong reactions encourage and frustrate further. I could have told you that before reading the article!
Every time we'd discipline her biting (how I just described) she would bite harder and become furious.
She barely resembled our daughter in those moments, but we just figured she was handling the discipline poorly and to keep going. We needed a new strategy.
Something I recently tried has become our new go-to.
It's pretty opposite from my hard-line discipline philosophy, but I can't deny that it works SO well.
You won't believe it, and I wouldn't either, if it didn't stop her from biting or hair pulling every.single.time.
I gently talk to her and give her an alternative.
We've tried this super soft approach before with other disobedience and it's NEVER worked.
But for biting (and hair pulling) it is brilliant.
Here's how it'll go.
[Lily about to bite Oli or Brad or I]
Me - Lily honey, (super soft voice) I know you want to bite, but you don't have to (gently touch her back, totally disarming her)
[sometimes that's enough to get her out of the trance of rage, other times we go a step further]
Me - Lily, don't bite Oli, kiss him instead.
[SHE KISSES HER BROTHER]
or the other day, this scenario ACTUALLY HAPPENED...
[Lily is pulling her friend Olivia's hair and Olivia is trying to fight her off]
Me - Lily, don't pull Olivia's hair, she's your friend, hug her instead
[SHE HUGS HER FRIEND]
It seems totally crazy and overly simplistic, and no it doesn't work for everything we discipline, but for random biting and hair pulling it's worked 99% of the time. Not only the gentleness but the suggestion of another action completely neutralizes the situation. It must be linked to the reason she bites to begin with. Anyway, if you have a biter or hair puller who acts up specifically when over-tired or plain old over-excited, TRY THIS.