Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: How to Stop It

Earlier this week we discussed why babies and toddlers resort to biting, hitting and hair pulling.  It begins as a natural instinct but can become a nasty habit if it is not addressed early.  Parents are often unsure of how to deter these behaviors and teach their children other means of releasing aggression and frustration.  Today we’re offering some helpful tactics for how to stop biting, hitting and hair pulling.

Don’t give in to the behavior.  Showing your child that biting, hitting and hair pulling does NOT give him his desired result will interrupt his socially unacceptable thought process.  If he acts aggressive in an attempt to get a toy from a friend, immediately give the toy back to the friend to make this point.

Repeat the same calm response every time your child misbehaves.  Kids love to get a rise out of their parents.  If you remain calm and repeat “we don’t bite, that hurts” or “no hitting, ouch!” each time, your little one will start to get the picture.  As he learns to speak, make him repeat the phrase so it will sink in even further.

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: How to Stop ItNip the problem immediately.  As soon as you see the behavior, take actions.  If your child is mid yank on a strand of a friend’s hair, pull his hand away.  Swift responses tend to have better results.

Never exhibit the bad behavior as a response.  Biting, hitting or pulling hair to show that it hurts is never a good idea.  Kids imitate their care givers so by you doing the behavior you are teaching them that it may be OK.  Instead, ask your child, “How would you feel if someone did that to you?”  This teaches empathy rather than retaliation.

Create a consequence for misbehavior.  When your child is old enough to understand consequences, enforce a punishment for poor conduct.  This may include time out or taking a toy away.

Discuss the problem.  Once your child has calmed down, talk through the issue.  Ask why he did what he did and listen to the answer.  Then explain why that was wrong.  Tell him how he could have asked for something nicely or waited his turn.  Teach that communicating with words is always the best way to go.

Role play appropriate behavior.  You should always be a role model to your child.  Sometimes reenacting a heated situation with an appropriate response can show your child how to react next time.

Reward positive behavior.  Always point out when your child is doing something right with praise and an occasional reward.  You don’t want to teach that he should act right just for a prize, but periodic encouragement certainly helps.

Know your child’s triggers.  Try to make sure your child is set up for successful playing by ensuring he gets enough sleep, isn’t hungry and feels comfortable in his environment.  If he feels nervous, tired or hungry he may act out.

Give your child attention, respect and love.  Poor behavior is often the result of not enough attention from parents.  Be sure to spend quality time with your kids and give them lots of affection to avoid these negative feelings.  Also, don’t lash out when things get chaotic.  Kids feed off that behavior.

Don’t expect perfection.  As we discussed earlier this week, kids misbehave for a variety of reasons that are completely normal and part of their development into mature people.  Sometimes aggression and frustration gets the best of all of us so tolerance and forgiveness should be part of the process as well.

Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: Why it Happens

Biting, hitting and hair pulling are among the top behavioral issues among babies and toddlers.  While it may start innocently in infancy, permitting the behavior can lead to poor conduct as children grow older and know right from wrong.  Many parents are at a loss when it comes to biting, hitting and hair pulling; they don’t know why it happens or how to stop it.  Today we’re sharing the reasons why kids act aggressively and later this week we will review some tactics to resolve these common problems.


Biting, Hitting and Hair Pulling: Why it HappensBabies usually begin these misbehaviors as a tactile exploration of the world around them.  They use their mouths and hands to experience their environment and often that includes unwanted biting, hitting and hair pulling.  Sometimes all three behaviors stem from being in pain.  Because babies cannot express themselves with words, they use physical actions to cry out for help, especially if they are not feeling well.  Often babies bite because they are teething and chomping on something makes them feel better.  Babies also bite when they are hungry and may even bite during breastfeeding.

Of course, babies don’t understand that it may hurt someone else and is inappropriate.  Even if babies are unaware of their ethical and social faux pas, they should be redirected so they do not think that biting, hitting or hair pulling are acceptable.  Quashing the behavior at this young stage will help ensure it does not grow into a larger issue later.  Usually the aggressive, controllable misbehavior presents between 1½ and 2½ when language is still a hurdle but the world around them is becoming clearer.

As babies turn to toddlers and become more cognizant of their surroundings and social dynamics, they may resort to biting, hitting and hair pulling for other reasons.  They may be longing for attention or trying to exert some control over their environment.  Toddlerhood is when children begin that they have choices and may rebel against the rules and schedules their parents set forth.  Frustration can build as they are constantly told “no” or forced to do things they would rather not.  Eventually the pent-up anger can explode into aggressive behavior.  Just like adults, toddlers have their breaking points too.

Toddlers also employ biting, hitting and hair pulling to elicit a response.  Sometimes they delight in the reaction from another – seeing someone squeal in pain may be funny to them.  It sounds sadistic but it’s very normal.  Alternatively, they may be defending their territory, usually a toy or food that they want.  Although wrong, toddlers learn that biting, hitting and hair pulling will probably cause their playmate, sibling or parent to stop doing whatever it is that don’t like, even temporarily, such as playing with the toy they want or forcing them to take a bath.

Biting, hitting and pulling hair are a normal part of infancy and toddlerhood.  Understanding why your child does it is the first step to managing the situation.  Next up is employing tactics to stop the behavior and encourage more positive ways to express anger and aggression.  We’ll be exploring that topic later this week so stay tuned!

Learn Common Biting and Teething Signs During Breastfeeding

Learn Common Biting and Teething Signs During Breastfeeding Now that your infant’s teeth are beginning to appear, are you worried about how their presence will affect your breastfeeding routine? Most moms experience temporary biting issues during breastfeeding, but they do not derail the journey altogether. With gentle persistence and careful attention to your baby’s moods during nursing, you’ll be able to find the source of biting and stop the habit before it forms.

If you notice a change during your breastfeeding sessions now that your little one’s teeth have started to come in, the emerging nibbling issue will most likely have to do with teething pains. To avoid your infant using your nipple as a teething relief, keep teething rings and other distractions on hand while nursing. Your infant’s sucking motions might slow down before the biting begins; because of how the tongue naturally covers the lower set of teeth, you baby will not be able to bite you in the middle of a proper latch. If your baby seems irritated or distracted while nursing, try disengaging and replacing your nipple with a cool teething ring or suitable substitute.

Disinterest during breastfeeding is a clue that your baby might be biting out of boredom. If you feel as though your child is biting out of a reason not including teething, immediately end the nursing session once the biting begins. Calmly but firmly unlatch your little one from your nipple without a big fuss. When you lead by calm example your baby will not get the satisfaction of getting a rise out of you. Do not reward biting with a dramatic gesture; simply end the nursing session firmly but without forcible words or actions. You want to avoid giving into your little one’s desire for a reaction because it is possible that your little will continue biting others to continue receiving attention. Remember, if you set the tone that biting is not acceptable during breastfeeding your little one will respond appropriately.

To continue avoiding biting, make sure to avoid play fighting or “love bites” so your little one is not confused by your actions. If you want to truly avoid the habit, engaging in playful biting only confuses your child as to what is appropriate. Make clear boundaries concerning biting others with your little one to avoid bad behavior inside or outside your home. Just because your little one is biting during breastfeeding does not mean that it is necessarily time to end nursing; be patient and usually you will be able to resolve this minor issue with attention to your baby’s actions and moods.