Your beloved child is in a school situation for the first time and you’re just as proud as can be that there were no major hitches and life goes on in a relatively uncomplicated manner. You’ve received good reports from his/her teachers and you have looked over the Picasso-like paintings and drawings he/she has faithfully brought home to you. Life is good!
Just then word reaches you. He/she has done what??? Did you say bite someone in the class? You ask with incredulity. That just can’t be, not our little baby; it has never happened at home… unless you count the time he/she bit the dog’s tail and received a growl as a reward and warning at the same time. But there it was just wagging in his/her little face, and what’s a little person going to do, commands to the pet do not even work when the adults try to enforce Rover’s poor manners. A bite seems to get a lot of attention from the pet and parents alike- seems like a good plan!
In fact, biting another individual does indeed get a lot of attention and a certain amount of infantile pleasure at having the capacity and strength to cause such an immediate reaction. Gee, just can’t think of anything that works better; of course a dirty diaper can get a similar reaction but not as dramatic, and when you consider the discomfort of sitting in that mess for a period of time before it is noticed, it sure isn’t the best method. So, call it readily accessible weapons, or the need for immediate gratification, but your child has found out the age old secret and is trying it on some unsuspecting child of his or her approximate size and strength.
OK, that’s the facts, now what can you do about it? Well, the first thing is not to bite back- we would expect that of the dog but not of a parent. After all if he/she urinated on you just after dressing for the day would you turn around and reciprocate? Of course not so we need to develop a method that is civilized, explanatory, and requires some punishment if it persists.
First of all, I’ve found that you need to catch the child in the act, but if my experience holds true, the little devil will attempt this at home at some point. There are no studies to support my method of dealing with this issue except the good responses I receive from parents who are only too happy to stop this habit- FAST! There must be an immediate loud, forceful verbal “NO” (which it is almost impossible to suppress) followed in short order by a light flick to the side of the lips/mouth with one of your fingers. I’ve found this to be shocking enough for an immediate release to occur, but not forceful enough to cause any local damage. Your child will get the picture fairly quickly that this behavior is certainly something that should not and will not be repeated. Stick with it parents, it won’t take long and the problem will be gone.