What To Do If Your Toddler Bites

Dear Sara,

My two year old daughter has been biting her four year old brother. I have been putting her in time out for this but so far it hasn’t helped. One of the problems is that she won’t stay in time out unless I’m there holding on to her which in my mind gives her too much attention. Is there some other way to discipline her for biting?

Dear Kitty,

Two year olds still have to learn about someone else’s pain. Your daughter doesn’t have the understanding that she is hurting her brother, she just knows that she gets a reaction and lots of attention Instead of giving her time out, try to teach her to replace the biting behavior with a kiss. Tell her “no we don’t bite” and then show her how to kiss her brother on the spot where she bit him. If she is able to do this then she gets a small reward such as a piece of candy. She may then be able to associate her good behavior with getting a reward. This way she will be getting attention for the good behavior rather than the bad.

You are probably right that your daughter is getting way to much attention for her negative behavior. First she gets your attention when she is scolded and then even if you try to ignore her she is getting attention because you are having to stay with her in time out. Be sure to give her lots of attention when she is behaving in a way that pleases you.

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