Ideas anyone?

What do you do when a 3-year old starts biting herself? Hard? On purpose? And randomly?

Bean, in a perfectly good mood, has started biting herself on the hand, fingers, and arm. To the point that she cries out in pain and has me kiss the boo-boo. And then when the pain dissipates, she does it again.

Any ideas? I don’t know if she’s doing it for attention (though my reaction has moved from “Oh no! Are you okay, honey?” to “well then, don’t do it again!”) or if there’s something else going on. I just don’t get it. So please, fellow bloggers, share your wisdom.


4 thoughts on “Ideas anyone?

  1. Self-biting can be a sign of discipline that’s too harsh. It can be other things too, but given your recent post on discipline the timing is curious. I would suggest keeping a log of the biting behavior. What time was it? What happened in the 30 minutes prior to the biting? What was her emotional state? Was she tired/hungry/angry/bored? If you can discern a pattern, then you can find a solution. I’ve used logging for other behavior issues (nightmares, biting others, tantrums) and a good log can be a wonderful tool. Sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest for the trees.

    Good luck.


  2. I can relate…my son (now almost 5) went through a stage at 3 years old of biting his shirt sleeve. He’s textbook Sensory Seeking (meaning he’s always been one to “mouth” things out of exuberance because he’s just wired that way) I think the biting is a stage, but giving your daughter crunchy or sour foods to eat (my son loves raw vegetables, apples, lemons, and sour candy) will probably help. Many teachers and occupational therapists believe that this type of sensory input is necessary everyday to control sensory seeking behavior. If you see other behaviors (bumping, crashing, spinning more than other kids) in addition to the biting, I recommend the book The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz. I read the book right around the time of the sleeve biting and since he’s moved on to other behaviors that were just a little “weird”, it’s nice to know what he needs for a successful day. He’s a wonderful kid and I try to stay positive, but I do know what it’s like to deal with this sort of thing.


  3. What do you do about nail-biting? I think the same thing is going on in her head, it’s just moved over a bit. My oldest will chew her nails past the quick and cry, and still not quit chewing.

    It’s mindless, mostly so the regular bite deterrents– nasty nail polish, maybe lemon juice (would hot sauce burn on the skin?) are a place to start. The idea is to have a sensory reminder to stop. This will be uncomfortable.

    I think biters may have some kind of oral fixation, so maybe having carrot/apple cucumber chunks around will help her off herself.

    My oldest also likes chewing on one of the baby’s pacifiers sometimes (once or twice a week, after a nap especially), and as they haven’t broken yet, and I always check them afterwards, I think this is fine.

    I remember “biting” myself when I was young. The appeal was having something solid in my mouth and the odd smoothness of skin. (sorry if that’s TMI.)

    I don’t remember if I made myself cry.

    I was a nail-biter too, more so than skin, like my oldest daughter, and I eventually outgrew it (around 5-7?). That’s all I’m hanging on now, beyound the deterents.


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