Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Momma. I promise. I will never..."

The first words I heard this morning when I woke up were: "Momma.  I promise.  I will never bite you again."

Someone's been feeling pretty badly about an incident when we were leaving the park yesterday, and after two days and well over a dozen freely volunteered apologies, I doubt she will ever bite anyone ever again.

We'd gone through a biting phase that lasted a terrible six months from 2 to 2 1/2, but after more than a year without biting I was rather surprised when, mid tantrum about leaving the park and ending our play date, she reached over and bit my arm.  Hard (although thankfully not hard enough to break the skin this time... I do still have a scar from one of those year old bites!).  There was yelling.

After about a minute calming down in her stroller I went over and showed her the teeth marks and explained that when she got mad and bit me, it really hurt.  She went from outraged at the injustice of leaving the park to very quiet.  "I meant to bite this right here Momma." She pointed to the stroller.

I paused for a moment.  Do we begin to learn about lying now?  Sadie's a pretty honest little kid.  She's wonderful at pretending and imagining, but she doesn't usually tell outright lies to get out of trouble.  I decided to cut that tendency off immediately.

"No you didn't mean to bite the stroller Sadie.  That's a lie.  And lies make God sad.  You need to tell him you're sorry."

"I'm sorry God."  The words were tearful.  "I'm sorry Momma.  I'm sorry for biting your arm!!!!"  Tears.

I told her that it was okay and that I loved her and we headed home.  After we got home and Daddy came home from class she told him what happened (and then I repeated it because she could hardly be understood) and I thought it would probably drop... But periodically throughout the day:

"I'm sorry Momma!  I'm sorry I bit your arm."  And then I'd tell her not to worry about it.  It was over.  I love her no matter what, even if she did bite my arm again.  And that was when the new apology began with the promise that she had no biting plans in the future.

I think we may now really be past the biting phase with her.  And oh how I hope Mae doesn't go through the same thing, when she turns 2!  Now to get Sadie distracted so she stops worrying...  Sometimes accepting that we've been forgiven something is the hardest part.  Thankfully a three year old is easily distracted.


  1. Cam,

    Sadie, from your descriptions of her sounds like the classic highly sensitive child. The biting actually isn't all that unusual in kids of that type, but neither is the lingering guilt. Your gentle ways of disciplining her are the best approach that you could take.

    I have to say that I delight in the pictures of your little girls. The sheer delight that they find in life, no matter what outfit they happen to be wearing at the moment, is just so enjoyable to see. It really shows that kids don't have to have tons of stuff, or tons of structured activities to be healthy and happy.
    What they need are parents who love them, and who make sure that their needs are considered in the overall scheme of family life. I'm sure that Sadie is far happier with costumes made by Mommy than any expensive toy from the store.

    Tantrums happen even to the most well taken care of child. Transitions are really hard for some kids, emotions can be really close to the surface especially when kids are tired, hungry, etc. This too shall pass. Hopefully, you'll escape the biting with Mae. Neither of my two were bad biters (first worse than the second), but my observation is that certain situations were far more apt to bring it on.

  2. Our younger daughter was a biter from around a year to 2-2 1/2. Early on, I think it was due to early teething (had to finally wean at 14 mos.) but as she got older, I think it was a way to vent frustration. She was a very difficult, active child (this is the one who didn't sleep through the night until the age of 6.) We discovered many years later that she was off-the-charts ADHD, though she covered it well in school. It certainly answered a lot of questions!

    She has always been extremely sensitive, and would worry or have bad dreams about things that disturbed her (we had visited the World Trade Center a few weeks prior to 9/11 and the faces of the people there haunted her for a very long time.)

    She is now, and has been for about 20 years, the kindest, gentlest young woman I know. Your Sadie is a sweetie, and even real sweethearts have the occasional lapse. I have a feeling her frustration won't manifest itelf in biting again, though.


  3. Maybe tell her thank-you when she apologizes?

    I don't think she'll ever do it again and will be very careful in the future. It looks like she's turned a corner and is growing up. Good job on catching her lie. Statistics prove in crime that if a person is caught the first time doing something wrong they will most likely never do it again.

    I'm working on my little boy and biting and it's hard work since he's only 1. That and the hitting. I long for the days when he understands that it hurts and he shouldn't do it and wants to comply.

  4. My oldest son is a head-butter mostly. When he gets frustrated if we're holding him, he uses his brain like a battering ram. Although if he's frustrated he'll simply bang his head against something. He stops when he hurts himself.

    He's learned real quick that biting is not cool. I think he's a bit like Sadie on that one. He bit me on purpose (I watched him contemplate it first) while nursing. I was still pregnant and of course hormonal so I melted into tears. His dad was home and he of course got real upset and clung to dad realizing that he had done something really wrong. I don't really cry that much.

    He hasn't bitten me since.

  5. Now you know she only bit you because you are forcing her to dress up like a nun and pray the rosary and go to Mass and ....

    ; )


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