My 16 month old has been biting me and not anyone else since he was about 10 months old, and recently he’s added in scratching too!! I think it’s partly due to teething however I’m not sure about the scratching. I try to firmly say no, and it hurts etc but he laughs and seems to think it’s a game. Anyone else been through this? Please tell me what helped!

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  • It is often frustration as they don’t have the words to express their big feelings properly. Great job stating it hurts. You could add feeling words to what you think is happening for him. Something like it looks like you are frustrated you can’t do…… or whatever is happening.

  • One of my twins was scratching and biting. But it’s always a phase.

  • If my son hits or scratches me. I tell him no, I will not let you hit me, that hurts. And I walk away or put him down.
    I also say that he needs to touch gently and show him what that looks like by gently touching his face. Now when I say gentle touching he rubs my check gently.
    Sometimes they forget though, and have no impulse control so don’t take it personally and just keep reminding him to use gentle hands.

  • I’d try a gentle but firm no, in a deeper voice, then walk away from him/her. Try teaching some gentle interactions when you are together like holding hands or stroking his cheek.

  • Yep, the “any reaction is a reaction” phase. The laughing is just a natural reaction to stimulus, he doesn’t really understand that it hurts, or even really what hurt is. He just knows he is getting a reaction from you.

    The only thing that we found worked was removing bub from us for a few moments so they at least had an association that doing the ouchie thing would mean they didn’t get to spend time with us (if ouch, please don’t hurt me, and that hurts :( didnt work) or we would simply redirect.

    I did find with our most recent toddler that she does get far worse when she is tired and sometimes uses it as a communication tool to try and show she is at her limits. Hang in there, it wont be forever x

  • I did not experience this with my child but it sounds like a tough situation. I wonder if there is a book or some short video clips you could use to show your son that this is not the right behaviour. Good luck Mumma.

  • Ahh we went through this phase with one of my boys too, it was very challenging. First thing my GP suggested was to stay calm – toddlers pick up on our emotions, so reacting with anger or frustration might reinforce the behaviour. Next is consistency, use a firm but calm tone saying “no” and provide a brief explanation that biting and scratching hurt. This helps them understand that this behaviour is not acceptable. Try to redirect the attention – they are showing signs of wanting to bite or scratch, redirect their attention to an activity or toy. Encourage words to communicate their needs rather and provide positive reinforcement when they do this.

    Good luck! If it continues, I’d speak to your GP and see if they feel seeking advice from a paediatrician is necessary, however I think this is a fairly normal phase.

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