Son Bites and Scratches Others, What to Do?

22 March, 2021
Q I have a 3-year-old son who always scratches and bites other children.

My friend visited us with her 2-year-old daughter and my son went up to her and pinched and scratched her cheek real bad. Then a couple minutes later he bites her again..

Whenever there are other small children around, he is a bully and is either pinching, biting, or pushing, etc.

I don't know how to make him realize that this is bad behavior and how to stop him from doing this.

I get so angry and end up giving him a spanking and a time out. What to do and should I bite him back?

Answer

In this counseling answer:

•Avoid rewarding the behavior in any way. If your child bites you, don’t laugh even if it doesn’t hurt.

•It’s enough at this point to show him–by your face–how angry you are about this behavior.

•Tell him that he must not bite under any circumstances. “No,” said sharply, would be an appropriate response.

•Try to avoid the physical punishment as much as you can because, for a child this age, punishing him for the behavior isn’t very effective at getting him to stop.


As-Salam ‘Alaykum sister,  

May Allah bless you and your little son. Thanks to Allah that you are a mother. This means that Paradise is at your feet, as our Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

Paradise is at the feet of the mother.”

Your child is a gift from Allah and it is very important to carry a great responsibility in raising him physically, emotionally, religiously, and morally.

So you have to understand your child and why he’s biting. Your son is not a bad boy; some kids bite more than others, so don’t be overwhelmed or confused. Al-hamdu lillah, he is still very young and you can still instill manners in him.

First of all, sit with yourself and try to figure out the reasons behind the biting.

There are many reasons behind children’s biting:

-Perhaps he doesn’t understand that biting, pinching, and scratching are forbidden. This is just his way of rebelling.

-Maybe he’s trying a new way to get closer to you and to the children’s groups.

-He hasn’t learned how to communicate in other ways yet. He doesn’t have any verbal way to show his frustration. Physical activities are much easier, and a much more natural course, especially for a toddler. If another child takes his toy, he may react by hitting or biting.

Kids Suffering Expat Life And Closed Environment - About Islam

-Some children feel they are endangered and bite in self-defense. Maybe, he is overwhelmed by his surroundings and bites as a means of regaining control.

-Changes happened in the family that affected him, such as the death of a grandparent or a mother returning to work.

-Perhaps he, like some children, experiences a strong need for autonomy and control.

-Biting is a powerful way to show other kids his weapon and how to hurt them with it.

-Maybe your child is under some kind of stress.

-Or he has a new playmate from whom he may be picking up this behavior.

So, just watch to see when and how your child bites. Maybe you will notice a pattern, too. If your son bites, remain calm and think about what the child experienced just before the incident.

I was facing the same problem with my son who is now 2-1/2 years old. He was a biter between about 1-1/2 and 2 years.

He used to bite me, his father, and the kids in the day care around his age, whether he was laughing and playing or angry and crying.

I didn’t know why this cute baby had become a biter, but I finally figured out that he wasn’t really trying to hurt me (or others) but that he just had a lot of feelings and that’s how he expressed it.

When I saw him coming to bite me, I said “no biting, please hug” or “let’s play or run together” and he gradually cooperated.

Actually, we both learned because I had to learn to observe in order to help him put his energy in playing instead of biting.


Check out this counseling video


Now, how can you deal with your child when he bites?

•Avoid rewarding the behavior in any way. If your child bites you, don’t laugh even if it doesn’t hurt.

•It’s enough at this point to show him–by your face–how angry you are about this behavior.

•Tell him that he must not bite under any circumstances. “No,” said sharply, would be an appropriate response.

•Convey to him immediately and clearly that biting isn’t acceptable. He’s still too young for long explanations about why biting is bad.

•Try to avoid the physical punishment as much as you can because, for a child this age, punishing him for the behavior isn’t very effective at getting him to stop.

•Don’t spank or bite your child if he bites; his aggressive acts will stop when adults stop them.

•Help him learn to negotiate with words rather than by biting or pinching. Ask him to use the words to tell you what he needs.

•Help your child find more appropriate outlets for aggressive feelings and frustration, and encourage him to develop self-control.

•If your child bites your guest’s child, remove your child from the situation right away and help him to calm down so he learns to handle emotions differently next time.

Finally, I pray to Allah to bless your family and hope to hear again from you soon, in sha’ Allah.

Salam

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