How Do I Deal With Fighting And Biting Children?

I have a son that is 4 and a daughter that is 3. They are going through a phase where they fight daily over almost everything – crayons, books, toys. My son is usually pretty physically self-restrained but my daughter pretty quickly resorts to biting him. Any suggestions?

Worried Dad

Dear Worried Dad:

If there is any creature on earth a bigger asshole than a four-year-old, it’s a three-year-old. Good gravy, three- and four-year-olds are terrible people.

My sorrow for you at your misfortune — having two kids at such unspeakable ages in your house at the same time — knows no bounds. Dear god, man. The thought is horrifying.

What do I advise you to do? Duck and cover. Uselessly punish the daughter with time-outs or whatever parents do to make ourselves feel like we’re having some effect on our children’s psyches whenever she bites. (It will have no effect on her whatsoever, but it will make her brother feel that you are at least trying.) Don’t bite her yourself, no matter how much you want to.

Save your teeth for the smug parents of older children who do not remember this time in their parenting lives because they all have PTSD from it and are blocking it out, when they say: “Just wait until they’re teenagers; it’s much worse.” You bite them hard. You bite the living shit out of those people.

Other than that, just try to keep them as separate as possible and wear earplugs. With noise canceling headphones.

I am being ridiculous, I guess, but honestly I feel like there is nothing you can do with kids of these ages except survive it, and make sure they do.

Parenting very young children is so, so hard. And we have so little genuine, honest information. I cannot tell you the number of my friends and family with kids who bite and they’re astounded by this. It takes all of us by surprise. Why? Because no one told us! No one told us that children are bity little biters who bite, and that this does not make them psychopaths — this makes them three.

Not all kids bite, obviously — your son doesn’t. But your daughter does. And she is going to be okay when she turns five, I am willing to bet.

Parents put so much pressure on ourselves, in addition to the pressure from society at large. Your kid bites. Oh no! You think. I’m not parenting hard enough, or gentle enough, or fast enough, or slow enough, or round enough, or pointy enough.

You are pointy enough. You are round enough. You are doing fine. (You didn’t bite her, right?) You’re doing fine, and she will be okay, and your son can use any scars to make her feel horribly guilty someday. Or at least embarrass her in front of her friends.

Hang in there! It is going to get better.

(And by ‘better,’ I mean she will eventually stop biting him. This ‘phase’ of which you speak where they fight over everything? Yeah it’s not a phase it will never end sorry.)

Thank GOD kids show us the world in ways we never thought possible and they are so cute it hurts and they rip our hearts out and show us sides of it we could never reach ourselves and make us so proud we could crap and take our breath away and shine their brilliance on our dull, grownup faces and turn us into entirely different people or else we’d all just be fucked.

This letter first appeared in on August 6, 2015.

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