No Biting Please
The other day a friend of mine and I were playing with a lovely and energetic 2 year old.
At one point he was climbing all over my friend and having a great time. Suddenly he bit the guy right on the chest… Ouch!
My friend said “no biting please” in a very calm and gentle tone.
Biting is AWESOME!
Of course knowing what I know I realized that was not going to stop him from biting, but was actually going to make him want to do it more!
So immediately jumped in and said, in typical Vivek fashion…
“Biting is AWESOME!”
They both stopped for a moment and just looked at me.
Validate the Impulse – Redirect the Behaviour
I grabbed a pillow from the couch and bit it, shaking my head and growling like a dog.
The kid started laughing immediately and I gave him the pillow to bite as well. He copied me growling and shaking his head.
Then I joined him and the two of us had the same pillow and were biting the corners like dogs fighting over a piece of meat!
It was quite dramatic and hilarious.
Offer a Suggestion Once Connection is Established
At some point I said to him that biting things is awesome, it feels good. Biting people isn’t so great because it could hurt them. But there are so many things we can bite and it’s so much fun.
After a minute of this he went back to climbing on my friend.
I could see the urge to bite suddenly come upon him and he paused… He looked at me.. he grabbed a pillow and brought it to me to bite which I did so vigorously of course!
Then he grabbed it and started biting it as well.
This happened four more times over the next five or six minutes.
A 2 year old Learns Self-Regulation
Every time he went to bite my friend he remembered how much energy I gave him for his biting and how much fun we were having doing it.
I Was Myself quite amazed at how quickly and how well he took to this.
Even though I teach it, it still seems so wonderful to me how effective it is when we go with our children’s direction and what a difference it makes.
It can be challenging, but if you can try “going with” your kids impulses and directions rather than correcting them, especially in the most difficult moments, with the most difficult behaviors, you might find that things can shift in unexpected ways.
A New Way of Relating
The hard part about this is of course it goes against so much of what we’ve learned and experienced over our lifetime. We are taught that if we don’t maintain control our children will control us.
So many of our systems are built this way, the education system, our legal system, our correctional system… it’s not surprised that the family system is also modeled this way.
If we can however change our way of thinking from one of control and competition to a mindset of cooperation, collaboration and connection then we can teach our kids whole new way of relating.
This has multiple benefits of increasing the trust our kids feel with us, increasing their ability to think for themselves and also creates a much deeper and closer relationship with them.