I have a biter on my hands. Unfortunately I’m not talking about a toddler nibbling on food, I’m talking about my 18-month-old chomping down on other people. He thinks it’s a game. When he bites it’s usually not because he’s upset and trying to retaliate, it’s because he’s excited. He gave me a huge smile and then bit down on my thigh when he saw me this morning (I had slept in). When Chris got home yesterday morning, he squealed in delight and then chomped down on Chris’ shoulder while he was hugging him.
Although we don’t like being bitten–it hurts and leaves a mark every time–and we always reprimand Mason when he bites us, I had never heard of Mason biting other children at school, so I wasn’t too worried about it. Then he started chewing on his classmates.
I arrived home Thursday night from happy hour and Mason’s babysitter (who happens to be his teacher) informed me that he had bitten two kids at school that day. I was absolutely horrified. And mortified, so mortified. Mason had been bitten by other kids at school before, but he had never bitten back (in fact he’s laughed when it’s happened). The teacher thought the sudden biting might be related to his transitioning to a new classroom with older kids. I suspect it might be teething-related; he’s cutting two top molars and a bottom tooth right now. But that still doesn’t make it OK.
Problem is, how do you teach a kid that a behavior that he thinks is funny is actually really bad? I know his little friends at school must bite hard because Mason bites hard, but despite the pain he still thinks it’s hysterical to bite people and to be bitten, apparently. I’ve started to give him two-minute time-outs whenever he bites, and I tell him “It’s not nice to bite other people.” But I’m still not convinced he understands why he’s being punished, especially since he laughs his way to time-out. Any advice?