Thursday, February 23, 2006

Biting and hair pulling

Any ideas for teaching Jonathan that biting me is not ok? Now that he has a tooth, and more on the way, nursing feels more like a battle than the comforting, relaxing experience it used to be. I’m tense because I never know when he’s going to bite me, and darn it, it hurts! I don’t want to wean him, but I don’t want this to go on, either. So I’m looking for practical, “this worked for us” techniques to help him learn not to bite. So far I’ve been saying “no biting, ouch!” in a stern voice, but he seems to just think it’s funny. These past few days he seems to think all reprimands are funny. Yesterday he wouldn’t stop pulling my hair, no matter what I did. He just viewed it as a challenge, I guess, and tried harder. I finally slapped his hand, which I really don’t want to do! And it didn’t really work, either – he cried for a minute and then tried again. And I felt guilty about it. I’m at a loss on this one – up until now a stern voice, shaking head, “no”…these all worked. Now he thinks disobedience is funny, and he seems to think those things that hurt me are particularly funny. I don’t know what to do. Ideas?


Elena said...

I'm sorry, Emily. Not much fun.

When the boys would bite me, that would just be the end of the nursing session. Any child that is biting is going to be as far from my nipple as possible.

It eventually did get better... hang in there.

postmaster said...

When he's 18 you'll thank yourself (and he may even thank you) that you continued to discipline him. Even though it's no fun now, it will make him a better person who knows how to discipline himself. Keep it up! I'm so sorry about the pain.

love and prayers,

Amber said...

OK, here's what I did with Emma at that point. When she would chomp, I would pull her back and say "gentle, Emma" and hold her back from nursing for a minute or two, but still in my lap. I would then let her nurse again, asking her to be gentle before she latched on.

If she did it again I would say "That's not being gentle, Emma. Now we need to stop because you are not being gentle. You can try nursing again in a bit and we'll see if you can be gentle" I would try to emphasize the word "gentle" as much as possible, and I wouldn't get upset about it. At this point I would either try again or put her down for a bit (depending on how patient I felt at that point!) If I put her down for a bit she would generally make a fuss and such, but then after a few minutes I would pick her back up and say "ok, lets try to be gentle now" and see how it went. Sometimes after a couple iterations we would just stop and do something else for awhile - something where I wasn't directly interacting with her but generally near her and where we were in a totally different environment.

I found with that whole "discipline is funny" thing the best thing to do was to not let it get to me. I would just repeat whatever discipline thing I was doing and pretend she wasn't laughing or smiling. If it was just a bit too much, then I might put her down and quietly walk away - generally I would go into the kitchen and wash something... in part to show that I was absorbed in something else, and in part because it helped me calm down :-)

Once it became obvious that her laughing in those situations would make mommy put her down or make mommy go away (rather than make mommy make funny faces and strange noises *grin*) it became a less interesting thing for her to experiment with.

For the hair pulling thing, I think I would have probably put him down after a couple times of asking him to be gentle so as to break the cycle. Since they are so driven by repetition at that age it seems best to just remove the possibility of that negative behavior for a bit then try again a little later (emphasizing that he needs to be gentle with Mommy, or whatever) rather than continuing down the same path that clearly isn't working! I know it seems like giving up at what should be a teaching moment - but really, nothing positive is being taught and it is better to strategically retreat and regroup than keep pushing when something isn't working. That's my opinion at least!

Ok, this is long enough, and I just noticed it is time to start making dinner! I hope this helps at least a little, and I'm looking forward to seeing you this weekend!

kelly t said...

Another mom passed this tip that works like a charm. when he starts to bite, immediately shove his face into your breast. He won't be able to breathe and will immediately unlatch. He will soon pick up that when he bites you, he can't breathe. This worked for both my kids.

slowlane said...

One of my teachers said that a lot of kids bite because they don't realize it hurts. She recommended showing the child that their teeth can hurt by having the child bite their own hand. But I think she was mostly thinking about slightly older children, I'm not sure.