Biting is a stage that all toddlers seem to go through. Biting is certainly not just a problem if you have multiples, all toddlers seem to do it at some stage. It just seems doubly (or triply!) bad when you have several toddlers of the same age who bite each other. I don’t know if it was just me, but I was always relieved that my twins tended to only bite each other, rather than other children. Infact, as far as I know, my twins only ever bit another child three times between them (unfortunately it was the same child each time!). However, they did bite each other occasionally.
Children generally bite for a reason and before they have the language skills to express what they are trying to convey. They may be trying to express their frustration at something, someone maybe in their personal space, they may not want to share a particular toy, or it may simply be because they are tired, overwhelmed or are teething. The best way to understand why your toddler has bitten someone is to evaluate what prior to the bite occurring. If you can identify this, then you can hopefully prevent it from happening again.
With multiples a lot of the time that biting seems to occur is due to the fact that someone else (their twin/triplet/quad) is in their personal space, or they are frustrated with their sibling, or they don’t want to share a toy. Unfortunately when there are multiple children with the same limited level of communication, biting seems to be more frequent between them.
So, what can you do? Twinfo asked several other multiple birth families, and these were their responses:
Thankfully, only one of mine used to bite. The biter would be popped into the portacot (which we had in the loungeroom) with a firm ‘no biting’ and I would comfort the bitee. Physical separation was the key for us. Our biter soon worked out that if she bit, she would be put into the portacot (or pram if we were out) and that she would be ignored while I played with her twin sister.
We always just used the “no biting” and then paid attention to the one that was bitten. Our twins seemed to do it when they were over excited – they even bit if they were happy!
There is a great book called “Teeth are not for biting”. We found that reading that every night for several weeks really helped. We then made sure we read it once a week or so until it stopped.
I learnt to be able to predict when it was going to happen, so I played the distraction card – “ohh, look at that red bird….see over there…..oh no, its gone”.
Distract, ignore . Repeat.
We used to separate them as soon as it happened. For us, it was generally because one was in the other personals space. So we found that separating them for a while, with some different toys, worked.
Say very firmly (and in a dominant voice) “no biting!” and then move the biter away so that they cannot interact with you or the other children. Then spend time with the bitee, so the other feels like they are missing out on special time.
A behaviour specialist told us to offer an alternative to bite (such as a teether). And to say “you can’t bite your sister, but if you want to bite something then bit this” and give them the teether.
I generally just ignore it (even if they bite me) as I find that with ours, drawing attention to it makes it happen more. Our twins are 23 months.
If they bite us, we say very loudly “Ouch! That hurts”. And try to verbalise how much biting hurts.
Depending on how old they are, we would make the biter apologise to the bitee. We show them the bite and explain that biting hurts.
Hopefully these tips from Twinfo readers will help. If you have any more tips that worked for you, please don’t hesitate to share them with us by commenting on this blog.
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