Your 26-month-old: Biting strategies
Your 2-year-old now
Preschoolers bite when they’re mad or feel threatened, usually because they’re having trouble communicating their feelings. Actions speak louder than words, so … chomp!
But just because biting is understandable doesn’t mean it’s acceptable. Clearly let your child know the behavior is not allowed. Be calm but firm: “No biting. Biting hurts people.” Then direct your attention to soothing the child who was bitten. Making a big fuss over a biter only encourages him to try this attention-getter another time. Later you can empathize with the situation and repeat the rule: “You were mad because Sam took your truck. But no biting. If you get mad you need to use your words or come tell Mommy.”
Sometimes “biting epidemics” storm through a daycare group. This happens because preschoolers are keen observers and copy behaviors that seem to get grown-ups worked up. That’s another reason to handle the situation in a firm but low-key way.
Your life now
What’s a reasonable length of time to expect your preschooler to sit still? Probably a lot less than the typical religious service, speech, or ceremony. Impulsive and wiggly, your preschooler doesn’t yet have the developmental chops to behave appropriately in these situations. A good rule of thumb for normal attention span is three to five minutes per year of age.
When you must attend a formal gathering, be sure to bring along quiet diversions such as books, crayons, a favorite animal, or a brand-new interesting toy. Snacks help, too. Seat yourselves somewhere that will make it easy to beat a hasty, discreet retreat if you have to.