Q: My 2 1/2 year old has just recently starting biting. She will run up to us, wrapping her arms around our legs as if shes hugging and than chomps down. She has actually left bruises on our legs! We have tried explaing that it hurts and isnt nice to do that, yet she continues doing it anyway. HELP!!
A: Dear Kalidog6969:
Some kids bite. Usually it passes. The most helpful thing I can suggest is for you to remember that the attention span of a 2 1/2 year old is about three seconds. So if she bites, say loudly and fiercely "NO!" and immediately pull away with a look of bloody murder. But remember, three seconds. At the end of three seconds, she will no longer know what this was all about, and no further explanations or discussion are going to be of any use at all. Just go back to ordinary life with her as soon as you can.
You may also have an inkling that she is about to bite, by her expression or some other clue. The best thing here is to interrupt the actual bite, by leaving the area or sitting down with your legs under you.
Biting is a primitive expression of excitement, love, hate, aggression, and the desire to control. As your daughter gains in other ways of expressing her strong emotions through language and gesture, the biting will phase out. But meantime, you want to interrupt her before she bites or to show an immediate fierce disapproval when she does. It would also be helpful if you can try to reduce the amount of excitement and anxiety in your daughter's life--toddlers often begin to bite when there are changes that they cannot control: a new baby, a new school, a new routine. Perhaps you can think of something that may have gotten her especially keyed up recently.
Elizabeth Berger MD Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"