January 3, 2013

Biter

I've had quite a few friends who have had trouble with their kids biting other kids. For whatever reason, they've just struggled with it. I never really thought this was something that Evie would struggle with. She's always been exceedingly gentle, always taking care of her toys, never throwing them, always kind and careful with her pets, never pulling tails or ears. She's always been described as content and happy. Biting never even entered onto my radar. 

Until she started biting herself. My mind was blown. This? I never expected this.  It started as a one time thing. I told her that she had to wait until I was done changing her diaper before I could give her something to drink. This was not a popular decision and she bit herself. I did the only thing I could think of and hugged her close, told her I loved her and told her not to bite herself. It happened at daycare and then it began happening all the time. Tell her no? Bite. Tell her she has to wait? Bite. Tell her to leave something (insert random item that she's not allowed to play with) alone? Bite. Pick her up to leave when she wants to stay? Bite. Here's the thing though, outside of the one time it happened at daycare, she only does this with me. Any of these other scenarios with other people and there's no biting.

So of course I freaked the freak out (with visions of mommie dearest dancing in my head) and consulted Dr. Google. The Internet mostly agreed that this is just a phase, that her ability to verbally express her emotions has not caught up to her actual emotional spectrum. That she feels safer with me than anyone else so she acts out more because she trusts me. This consensus agreed I was doing the right thing by holding her still and telling her that I loved her too much to let her hurt herself.

In darker corners though lurked words like "neglect" (emotional and physical), "needs more attention", "disorder", "anxiety", and "emotional disorder". Those words suggested consultations with child psychologists. I started freaking out even more and questioning everything I have done as a mother. Should I no longer make dinner at night in an attempt to spend every second after work with Evie? Should we switch day cares? Should I quit my job? Does she feel neglected? Dear God do I neglect my child? Am I a bad mother?

I know the answer to every single one of those questions is no. Still, it was a hard moment. I decided to keep on the first track of hugging and using soothing words. It's worked so far. A few days ago Evie bit herself close to twelve times. Yesterday and Tuesday it only happened once.

I think we are making progress, but it's still gut wrenching every time it happens. She's just such a passionate little thing.

Has anyone else had a kid who bit him/herself or others? Any advice?
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