Toddler Biting. Why I Am OK With It.
Toddler Biting. Two words that I thought I would never say, let a lone be writing about it.
I was recently at a dinner with 4 couples with toddlers, all around 2 years old (the toddlers, not the couples).
I was reluctant to go to the dinner, when my lovely wife suggested many months ago. The dinner was no ordinary dinner though, it was being facilitated by a well known parenting book author. I did my research on the guy, given I had not read his books, and could find nothing dodgy, so agreed to go to the dinner.
I turned up, and my first immediate concern was that there was no alcohol to be seen. Luckily, I had planned ahead, and smuggled 4 beers in, however, the host stole one on arrival, which left only 3 for the whole night. I was petrified.
Once we settled in, I expected to sit back, and listen to a ‘talk’ on how to parent toddlers, which I was eager to hear, given the toddler challenges we are just starting to experience with Jonah. However, within minutes, the ‘talk’ quickly turned into a group counselling session. We were being asked very personal, deep, questions about how we were raised, our relationships with our parents etc. It was not confronting so much as out of the blue. I am all for hard questions. Just not usually in front of 3 other couples I had never seen before.
The subject of biting came up. The facilitator, turned it back on me, and asked “how do you feel when Jonah goes to/or bites another child”. Without too much thought, I smiled, and replied “I kind of like it. Apart from the fear of a screaming tired mother running after me wondering my son bit their child, I felt sort of…… well, proud”.
There, I said it. I am proud. Sure, I would prefer he didn’t bite, and rather sit down and have a sensible conversation as to what isn’t working that is making him upset. But given he is not even 2, unable to talk, and has all of 7 teeth, biting is all he has to release the rage.
It turns out, my response was, well, quite normal. Biting, so the author went on, is something so primal, and natural, that the mouth is how we as new humans on earth (babies to toddlers) learn the world. The first thing we bite is the breast, so the relationship we have with what we put in our mouth is quite unique.
The amazing part of the night, is that the reason Jonah bites more with me then his mum, his that my reaction is one of ‘understanding’ and not ‘judging or punishing’ which is the natural response from most parents when their childs teeth sinks into the flesh of another child. It turns out, the best response, is to ensure Jonah I understand his rage and why he is frustrated, not to condemn it, nor condone. Just understand.
So my son, please don’t bite, but know when you do, Daddy is, well, on your side.
- You Bit Me…Ouch…Don’t Bite Me! (wildandwisdom.com)
- In the Name of the Toddler: The Prison of Parenthood (dadandburied.com)