2 Year Old Toddler Keeps Biting Himself

I have a two year old little boy that bites himself hard enough to leave marks. What can I and should I do to get him to stop?

By CJ from Layton, UT

December 17, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

Is the rest of his development typical? Is he cuddly? Does he look at you when you talk to him? Has he achieved developmental milestones on time?

Don't use punitive measures! Please check with a good doctor. Get a developmental screening of some sort.

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December 28, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

To get to the root of the problem, look at what he is getting out of the behavior. There are 4 functions for behavior:

1) access to attention

2) access to items

3) escape from a demand

4) automatic reinforcement (self-stimulatory behavior)

When you find out what he is getting out of it (the function), you can teach him an appropriate way of getting what he wants (usually it's a communication deficit and teaching them to ask will work).

When they perform the desired behavior (e.g., asking) deliver huge reinforcement (hugs and candy and give him what he was asking for).

This is called a Functionally Equivalent Alternative Response and is part of Applied Behavior Analysis if you need more information. Your pediatrician may recommend you see a behaviorist anyway, and they can give you more detailed help. Good luck!

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December 14, 20090 found this helpful

Is he angry when he does this? He could be just "milking" it for all the attention but I'm just a mom, not a doctor. I'd ask his dr. for advice.

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December 17, 20090 found this helpful

Everytime he bites himself put hot sauce on his tongue.

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December 18, 20090 found this helpful

There's something going on that's causing him to do this. Talk to his MD ASAP. It could be something at home, at daycare, etc. Meanwhile, I'll ask my daughter whose a professional in this area.

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December 18, 20090 found this helpful

I agree with stingray. See your Dr. asap. If there is a physiological basis for this behavior The earlier the intervention, the better the out come.Does he do this at certain times? What happens before he does it? Not a Dr. either, just worked with a lot of kids. Best wishes.

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December 19, 20090 found this helpful

I remember doing this as a very small child. For me, it was an anger issue. I would be very frustrated and unable to vent my anger for what-ever reason. I believe I was around the age of 4 when I started, looking back now, this was around the same time my mother had my little brother. I continued this behavior until I was a teen and I then stopped. Strange behavior to be sure.

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December 19, 20090 found this helpful

Try not to pay any attention to your son's behavior and never talk about it. See if this helps. When a child knows that this is upsetting they may continue to do this habit. Good luck!

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Anonymous Flag
December 20, 20090 found this helpful

Every single child reacts differently to stress and anger. Some lie, some steal, some hurt others, some hurt themselves. The ones who hurt themselves are the most scary :-( When he does bite himself try to figure out what made him want to do this. As others have mentioned, perhaps a new baby in the house and he's jealous or feels hurt or maybe your significant other and you argue or even a friend or other family member arguing in front of him?

Definitely do not punish but rather try to get to the bottom of 'why' and see your pediatrician but don't discuss your fear and worry in front of your child. Try not to show your fear and frustration in front of your child. No matter what the cause you need to get to the bottom of it even if it means family therapy.

I am sorry to be an alarmist but I have to tell you a story about what happened to some friends of mine whose daughter hurt herself. Their oldest daughter (she was about seven) would often slap herself in the face and lie about things that need not be lied about. It kept escalating and they finally started by asking help from doctors and therapists. Had they not done that and the problems not have been documented they would be in prison now :-o

The daughter did the slap herself thing fairly often and then one day when a teacher asked her about reddish hand print bruising the little girl told the teacher her momma had hit her and then had thrown her down the basement stairs. Even though the only mark on her was a child hand size hand mark, both parents were arrested and jailed for child abuse and their toddler was taken away (when the sister/toddler was born is when the self slapping began) and the other child who was about nine was also taken away.

It took almost a year in jail waiting for the courts and the justice system to invesigate, court hearings, almost $20,000.00 in lawyer fees and a final court date before the family was finally reunited and the state never apologized:-( And the entire family was so traumatised they had to have a couple of years of thereapy :-(

Had it not been for the fact that they had tried to get help for their little girl in the first place they would still be in prison and the three children would most likely still be wards of the state or adopted out.

I apologize again about being an alarmist but when you see this kind of injustice happen to an entire family first hand you feel you have to say something 'just in case' because it can and does happen :-(

Okay, on a lighter note ;-) Just find out what's causing the problem now, nip it in the bud, document it and don't show your worries to the little one.

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December 23, 20090 found this helpful

My friends little brother used to do that. He had bite marks on his fingers and he is in 1st grade I think and the marks are still there, but he doesn't do it anymore. Have you tried putting his fingers in the no bite finger nail polish. My mom did that to break me from biting my nails. It tastes horrible! But it worked very quickly if you haven't tried that yet. Hope I've helped :)

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January 2, 20100 found this helpful

What does his pediatrician say?

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