When my 9-year-old daughter was a toddler, she was a biter. I was mortified each time I received the slip of paper at day care telling me that yet another child had fallen victim to her chompers. While she eventually stopped biting (at least I haven’t had any reports from elementary school telling me otherwise), I was at a loss as to how to handle it as it was occurring.
Books, doctors, and well-meaning mothers and teachers told me it was a phase. It was her way of expressing frustration; she would grow out of it. My mother told me I should bite her (gently, but enough to hurt) so she would understand how it felt.
I honestly don’t remember how we handled it, or when it stopped, but it did stop. Now her frustration is expressed in equally annoying and unproductive ways, but without the bloodshed.
I once again have a toddler with his own way of letting his frustration be known. He has never been a biter, presumably because he was the victim of a biter at day care, or because he is very picky about what he’ll put in his mouth.
Donovan is an adorable 2 1/2 year old with curly blonde hair, big blue eyes, and a knack for whacking his sister. Lucky me. I am now the parent of the perpetrator and the victim.
Donovan doesn’t beat-up the kids at day care; he saves all his frustration and abuse for his big sister. The cries of, “Mommmmmmy, Donovan hit me” are as frequent as the whines of “I’m huuuuungry” at our house. Poor Adley is no stranger to bruises, cuts and even gooses eggs inflicted by her tiny torturer.
Once again, my struggle: How to make it stop. On the bright side, this go around I don’t have to be the one showing him how it feels. After all, isn’t that the job of siblings?
I don’t want Adley to hurt him, to leave him bloodied and bruised – although he would deserve it. I just want her to give him a firm shove or a good whack on the arm or leg the next time he hauls off and decks her with his toy truck.
Rather than resorting to tattling, I want Adley to learn how to stand up for herself. And, I want her little brother to know that when you hit someone, chances are it’s coming right back at you.
So where do I go from here? Do I wait it out, using time-outs and stern looks, or do I turn the playroom in to a mini version of Fight Club?
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