Wednesday, July 25th, 2012
We’re all about choppers over here. Vera got her first tooth. Yay! Also: Roy’s into biting us. Boo!
Little girl’s been pretty drooly for the past couple of months. She’s also ferociously gumming anything she can stuff into her mouth. It seemed a bit early to me, but it’s hard to argue with such signals.
Then last weekend, at five months and one week, her first tooth broke through. Bottom right. The second one, right next to it, appeared a couple of days later. Do you think it’s a coincidence that on that very night, she finally and mercifully slept until 4 AM? 4 AM, you guys! She celebrated with a magnificent blowout, which necessitated a complete wipedown and outfit change, followed by over an hour of uninterrupted screeching, cooing and kicking. While I, personally, would prefer a celebration that involved MORE SLEEP, I’ll take it. It was actually pretty cute.
Which leads us to something that’s the opposite of cute. Our sweet, gentle little two-year-old has taken to frustrated explosions, wherein he’ll thrash and scratch and scream like a, well, like a two-year-old.
But sometimes, there is biting. He’ll be so obviously bursting with emotion, over a “no,” or a naptime, or a similar shift in his world that’s not to his liking, and he’ll clench his teeth and growl and come at you, clearly intent on chomping down. Hard.
At first Clint was his sole (and intermittent) target. Eventually, I was fair game, too. We dealt with each bite as it happened, depending on that moment’s state of mind, mostly trying to minimize our reactions, because we figured that negative attention is attention. Things escalated.
Finally, about a week ago, he bit me so incredibly hard that I lost it. Declared I’d had enough and that this was going to stop. Sure, I hated getting hurt. But even more frustrating was watching my little guy’s emotions continue to boil up and over, and not being able to help. Clearly we needed a new tactic. Or, more accurately, a tactic, period.
That night, after a flurry of Googling, I wrote on a piece of paper: “We don’t bite. Biting hurts.” I set it on the kitchen island, so Clint and I could commit it to memory. From there on out, whenever Roy bit (or tried to bite) one of us, we looked him in the eye and calmly and firmly said it: “We don’t bite. Biting hurts.” Then we plopped him on the nearest chair and told him he could get up when he was ready with an apology and a kiss.
I noticed a few things. 1) I was easily able to stay calm, because I knew exactly how to respond. 2) Roy almost always apologized immediately and genuinely. 3) Within just a day or two, the biting all but stopped. Ideally, I wouldn’t have to type “all but” in that sentence, but again, I’ll take it. Perfection doesn’t seem to have much of a place in parenting.
Too bad this tactic doesn’t work on infants, though. Those two jagged little whitecaps hurt!