Dear Father Hood: pinching, biting, scratching – is my kid a psycho?


So far this morning my child has gouged my ear, chomped my shoulder and investigated the inner reaches of my eye socket. And right now I can hear my wife going ‘Ow, you do not bite. Ow, you do not bite. Argh. Bubster! You do not bite.’

He does bite. He bites, he chews, he scratches, he pokes, he slaps, he nips, he even occasionally lands a hefty headbutt or punch. And a lot of the time he laughs uncontrollably while doing it. But does this mean he’s a psycho? Heck, no. It just means he’s an active little boy who is still trying to work out how to control his motor functions.

So, moving forward, what can we do to protect our beautiful faces? Wearing a balaclava, mask or crash helmet is an option. Although given the fury my little one invests into pulling off his hats this could merely aggravate the issue. Thus I am going to bin this suggestion in favour of putting forward the concepts of repetitive law enforcement and distraction.

If you’re happy to go through some short-term pain to make a long-term gain, then repetitive law enforcement is the plan for you. Hold your baby close, wait for him or her to scratch your face, chew your hand or insert two digits up your nose and then use ‘no’ or ‘stop’ to rebuke them while placing the offending hand back down by their side. Initially, this will be met with contempt, but, if you stick to the script, minds greater than mine insist that the message will eventually get through.

If you don’t care about the long-term and just want the pain to stop pronto, go with distraction. This isn’t big, clever or complex. It simply involves getting the apple of your eye to cease his or her assault by pointing out a toy, turning the light on and off, opening a cupboard, wandering over to the window or, most effectively of all, saying ‘Where’s Mummy?’ Why is the last of these so effective? Simple. It stops your baby in their tracks and makes them want to go to mummy. And the second they go to mummy they’re a) no longer able to hurt you and b) her problem.



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