Is it ok to bite children?

Not for the simple sake of it of course. But if your kid bites you, should you bite back?

I usually defer to my ex’s knowledge of child raising, given that she has had two kids grow to adults with no apparent ill effects and that my daughter lives with her full time.

So our daughter (2 and a half) bites her nephew (a few months older) in circumstances that weren’t observed, only the aftermath. My ex texted me to let me know what had happened and when I phoned to see what was up, she advised me that were I to be on the receiving end of the bite, to bite back. She added that she’d tried to get her nephew to bite our daughter back, but he was too shaken to do so.

It seems a strange logic to me but nonetheless something I’ve heard from other people over the years. Do any Dopers bite their kids?

I could hardly be described as a child-raising expert, but I fail to see how this instils any impression on the child other than it is sometimes OK to bite another person. Well, I suppose it could also leave teethmarks if you bite hard enough. What else is a 2-3 year-old expected to get from it? I would never do this to any child, least of all my own.

Dear me. Biting

I could quite understand this version of justice being prescribed by a five-year-old, but adults are not supposed to be so frickin dumb as to suggest it.

I nearly got beaten up by a guy last year because my son had accidentally hit his son with a stick and when he came around, half an hour later, I refused to let him haul my son out in the street and make him stand still to be hit in return.

No. It’s a stupid, stupid idea. Two wrongs don’t make a right - it’s that simple.

I’m going to let the IMHO crowd chew on this one.

And I agree with Mangetout. Teaching a kid to hit back if they can’t avoid a fight is one thing. Telling them adults are willing to act like children and hit them back is a bad idea.

In my opinion? No.

I don’t go in for “tit-for-tat, get-him-back stuff”. I don’t want my kids to do it to each other, and I certainly wouldn’t do it to them.

Two kids, 13 and 10; one step-son, 20.

No. It’s not OK. Don’t bite them back.

I’ll grant you, though, that normal, good parents can be driven absolutely to the wall by their children’s antics and might, on occasion, try almost anything. Once in a while a bad technique works, but it’s still a bad technique.

Separate the kids and ignore the biter, while comforting the bitten.
Give the biter a strong “no” but don’t make a Federal case out of it.
Recognize situations that drive the biter to attack.
Then, intervene just before a bite is likely, and give the biter a constructive way to express themselves/solve a problem.
And take a deep breath and say “this, too, shall pass” because it will.
Pre-verbal kids are a challenge.

Plus age 2.5 is a bitch; my twins drove me bananas two years ago. Their behavior now is 180 degrees different now (most days :wink: ). They had to outgrow it, and I had to learn to stay calm and lead them to calm.

I’d picked that up as general advice from those TV Nanny shows, that where there are two kids don’t go overboard and demonize the bad behaviour but visibly reward the good behaviour.

Yep. It’s like when you see a woman walking down the street with a kid hanging from each hand, hollering


Errrh, gee, wonder where the kid got the notion that yelling is ok.

I think every kid does this once or twice. It’s only if a kid chooses this method as a standard way to express frustration that it becomes a problem.

I have known people who do this biting thing, and I’ve never understood it. I think a smack on the hand and a NO!, along with a time-out is pretty effective. My kid wasn’t a habitual biter, though…

That would have been my response if I had been there. This is only the third time in her two and a half odd years that Rosa has bitten anyone, and one of those was when she bit me in a state of excitement about something or another.

My daughter bit her brother many, many times.
Frankly, he usually had it coming - he’s been stealing her toys since he was old enough to crawl.
And she’s really an easygoing kid, she has lots of friends. Never bit anybody at preschool. Just her brother. Although she did punch out her friend’s older brother when he ran through their tea party, knocking cups everywhere.

But still, it was important to comfort my son and to help her find other ways to cope.
Bathtime was the worst. I think his little round shoulders were just too tempting, she’d have a day’s worth of aggravation built up, he’d make one wrong move - CHOMP!
With practice I got better at reacting - I’d try to put on my best Eve and be horrified, mortified, that my child could do such an awful thing.

That’s pretty much exactly how I handle it when my cat bites me (replace the smack on the hand with a rough shove off of my lap, or a shoving-kick if she’s biting my ankle). I’d think with a kid I might try an exaggerated howl of pain, making it very clear that the bite hurt me and made me upset. I wouldn’t bite back.

Spalding Gray, rest his soul, told a story about wanting his child to understand that Junior couldn’t hurt Daddy, and so he let his toddler (who came up to about hip-high) bite him. It was something of a game. Until the time Junior bit Daddy on the nuts.


Obligatory linky

I perhaps stand alone on this, but I taught my daughter about biting by biting back…

She was about 2 or 3, and she was *just *starting to develop a thing with biting. So one day when she bit me, I grabbed her arm and bit her right back. Not very hard, but hard enough to hurt. She was completely shocked, and then we had a “little kid” conversation about it - “See, biting hurts! Why would you want to hurt Mommy? We love each other!”

Very effective, and a beautiful demonstration for her to understand the “Why” of biting being wrong. Explaining the why can be very difficult, and this kind of object lesson can be very helpful in some situations.

I do not advocate that someone teach their children to bite back, and of course, YMMV depending on your kid. But it worked like a charm for me.

I just remembered that my middle brother was a biter when he was a kid. I never returned the favor. Considering how he’s turned out I can only imagine what would have happened if my parents had bitten him.

God help you if one of these tykes shows up at school or daycare with adult sized bite marks on them. “What happened?” “Daddy bit me…”. Whatever your own opinion is about this, there’s nothing quite like bite marks to get a politically correct mob to bust out their torches and pitchforks.

I happen to agree with you. While my 2 year old has not bitten or hit anyone other kids at the daycare have. My wife and I have talked about this a number of times, and we were talking about it last night. She’s horrified every time I would say something like that. What I don’t think she understands is I’m not suggesting that you bite to hurt or break the skin, but more to show that it hurts. More of a WTF for the child. Nor do I think it’s something one would do more then a handful of times. So far my daughter has not responded to timeouts, she thinks they’re funny, I don’t know what I would do if she picked up any really bad traits.

I’m not even sure if I would really do it, but I can see a point to it.

My first impression when I read this was, “Are you freaking kidding me?” It still is to some degree - I think parents should lead by example. Biting a kid back after they’ve bitten you or someone else is not leading by example. At all. However, it appears to have worked for a couple posters here. I guess it’s a your mileage may vary thing, but the very thought elicits such a visceral reaction - as in, “What the hell are you thinking?!?”

I don’t have kids. I have seen the “biting back” method work.

The kid had gotten into a habit of biting his little brother, and he was doing it just to terrorize the little guy. Other methods of discipline hadn’t made a dent in his behavior. Finally, when he bit his brother right in front of his mom, his mom turned around, grabbed his arm, and bit him back.

She didn’t do it hard. Didn’t even leave teeth marks, and she did it just long enough (like, maybe .5 seconds), that his eyes went big and he froze in shock. She let go, put a finger in front of his face and said, “you bite your brother, and I bite you. Got it?”

Kid never bit his brother again.

Not saying it’s the best technique, but it doesn’t do any damage, it teaches the kid that biting hurts, and it gets results.