Tuesday, July 19, 2005

The Biting Phase

Leah recently went through a biting phase, and Kaleb's toenail was a sad casualty. Just last month she had bitten Kaleb 5 days in a row. She bit him on the cheek, the shoulder, the hand, and yes, the big toe.

We tried different forms of discipline. She'd been reasoned with, she'd been on time-out - double time, she'd been spanked, and she'd been bitten back. But obviously, none of those methods was working, at least not for Kaleb.

The truth is, Kaleb bullies Leah relentlessly, and when she's ready for him to stop, she bites him. A month ago biting was the best solution for her, so I expected her to bite Kaleb until he learned when to stop. Obviously I didn't want my daughter to be a biter, but I did want her to stand up for herself, teeth and all. And I wanted my son to learn that intimidation was unacceptable. Although Leah's teeth were pretty intimidating. It was an odd parenting dilemma. Luckily, nature stepped in.

Infection followed the big toe biting debacle, and for two weeks all I heard was, “Stop hurting my toenail,” said to anyone who so much as looked at his foot. And one day, while I held Kaleb tight and Leah looked on, Rich cleaned under Kaleb's toenail as best as he could. Kaleb screamed like we were amputating his toes, and Leah stood by quietly watching.

Last week, thankfully, the toenail fell off. Don't ask me where it is, I don't know, and the thought that Zack just might snack on it one day keeps me up at night. But aside from Kaleb's naked toe, all is well.

Leah hasn't bitten her brother since.