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Biting Back

By Michael Pearl

Mike: Hi, I’m Mike Pearl. I’m here to answer some of your questions that you have been emailing to us, and Tremaine is helping me today. He’s going to read the questions for us. OK, so Tremaine, what’s the first question?

Tremaine: A lady writes in and says, “I have a son that quit biting me a long while past, mostly while nursing a bit after age one but stopped for a long time. But now two months past his third birthday, he has started biting us again. When he would bite while nursing I used your advice and also took him off nursing for a moment and told him to stop. It worked beautifully. It would be a full day or more before he would try again, and after a time he stopped completely. But now he has attempted biting us, his parents and his siblings, just about every day. I spank or swat him every time he does it and so does my husband and my daughter. But he keeps on trying it day after day, and sometimes more than once a day. What do I do?”

Mike: That’s not related to the biting that he did when you were nursing him. This is an act of aggression. This is an assault on you, on his parents, and on his siblings. And it’s a very effective tool. I go to prisons every week and deal with the men there. One of the things that men do when they get in a big fight, a big brawl, and get on the ground rolling around and they can’t punch each other anymore, they start biting. And believe me, that’s a very destructive way to come at someone. It can create a lot of damage. He’s being violent here. You need to recognize that.

There are a lot of other factors that you didn’t tell us about, so we just have to go on what you said.

You need to treat the biting just like you would if he was hitting with a stick, or if he was kicking, or any other act of aggression or violence. He’s being mean-spirited.

Now I would like to know, are the children provoking him? Are YOU provoking him? What is making him angry? Why does he want to hurt back? Why is he actively doing what normally would be retaliation for something? If you are provoking him somehow, the Bible says provoke not your children to wrath. So parents and siblings can provoke a child to wrath. Now that doesn’t justify his actions, but at three years of age, you can’t expect him to be mature and swallow his pride and be a martyr when people come at him aggressively. So if it’s a response to other acts of aggression, it’s still not acceptable but it makes a difference in the way you deal with him. You deal with him first of all by removing the provoking acts of aggression, and then you deal with his response.

Now let’s just assume that the parents and the siblings are not frustrating him and he’s just being a mean little brat. If that’s the case, then he does need to be spanked. You need to establish some rules. So what I would do, I would take a piece of paper, maybe on the refrigerator, and I would write on the refrigerator “Biting gets 10 licks.” I’d show it to him. He can’t read it but he knows what you are pointing to says “Biting gets 10 licks.” And you put the paper up there. Then count off ten – one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Ten licks.  Then take your switch or whatever you are using, a wooden spatula and hit your hand 10 times – 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10. Ten licks for biting. Then put your hand in his mouth and touch his teeth when you say that and get a hold of his jaw and say “Biting.” In other words, you want to use some physical demonstration to enforce upon his mind the rule of law. So the mouth, the teeth, biting, 10 licks – judgment falls.

And then the very next time he bites, don’t just swat him once or twice, but kind of draw it out. Make it a ceremony. “OK. Johnny bit. It’s time for Johnny’s spanking.” Take him in and show him on the refrigerator “Ten licks for biting.” Then get your little switch out, have him bend over the couch or something and then give him 10 licks on the back of his legs or on his buttocks. Make sure that it hurts enough that he remembers it. You don’t leave marks or damage him in any way, give him a spanking to where he’s going to remember that he got one. Now if you do that, he’ll quickly learn that there are consequences for negative behavior.

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