Teeth, so important yet so vicious.
The yelp of a young breastfeeding Mum feeling the spike of the first tooth. That hailed the end of breastfeeding for me. But that was by no means the end of the ‘weapon of choice’
The desire to yelp is strong but I learnt from my gnawing daughter that any reaction (beyond a firm reprimand) will only bring a repeat nip. Any facial reaction or squeal rapidly leads to teeth being used against any nearby person, adult or better still another child. At a recent pub lunch our eldest was excited to play with his younger brothers in the play area but he bought up short when an unknown child sunk his teeth into his arm. Such an unfocussed fuss was made by the (out of control) Nan that her charge merely lunged forward to repeat the assault.
No teeth attacks by nursery please
‘Tooth sinking’ must be stemmed before nursery, nanny ( one of the non capitalised types) or playground playmates start complaining. Firmness and consistency, the answer to so many behaviour management issues, help.
But no amount of firmness seemed to have any effect on my daughter when she was an attacker. I admit to reaching a dead end and getting fed up with the unprovoked attacks. I took her arm and firmly but in a very controlled manner gently put my teeth on her arm. She looked absolutely astonished. She then cried and we cuddled, I explained ‘ that is what it feels like, and you do it much harder, it is NOT a nice thing to do so please do not do it again, to anyone’. She did not ever do it again.
Talking not gnashing
Fast forward a generation and Elliot is starting a similar attack style but digging his nails into my arm or those of his younger brother. Kevin cried out and looked deeply saddened. The attacking Elliot looked happy with his success.I took his arm, pushed up his sleeve and got my nails lined up. He looked shocked.
“What are you doing Nanny?”
“ I am going to do to you what you have just done to your brother”…
“No Nan no”
“ why not ?”
“ because it hurts Nan” …
“So you know it hurts and you still do it to your brother, that is not a nice thing to do. When he gets older he will remember the ‘not nice ‘ things you have done to him. Please do not do it again”
"We must all face the choice between what is right and what is easy"
I did not put my nails into his arm and he did not do it again. Calm, consistent caring communication worked. He had to have a certain level of language and understanding to work with me.
- Don’t let the bite just pass
- Help the offender understand why it is wrong to knowingly injury someone else
- Make clear it is not funny, clever or powerful.
- If all that fails the ‘thinking step’ can be a good fallback