My younger sister was a biter.

There’s only a few things I remember about her toddler years — the fact that she liked to run around the yard without a shirt and usually had at least five headbands on at once. She loved to clomp around in our mothers’ shoes, and her favorite toy was a plastic telephone that she always put on her ear upside down while jabbering away. Nobody understood what it was that she was saying, but that didn’t seem to matter.

But the thing that I remember most is her biting. Perhaps it was because she had problems talking — speech therapy would come later — that she felt an urge to bite whenever someone wasn’t doing as she wished. That someone often happened to be me. At age 6 or 7, I knew better than to sit next to her in the backseat of the car, or avoid getting too close. Hair pulling was also a habit of hers.

As a parent, I’ve been lucky that none of my three children were biters — or so I thought.

My oldest daughter, in her toddler years, was too busy to stay still long. She climbed on everything and ran as though her legs only moved at one speed, but no biting.

My son, who came two years after his sister, was and is a sensitive soul. He was sometimes the subject of bites from other kids at his preschool, but no biting.

Our third child, our 2-year-old caboose, our princess-obsessed girly girl, is social and independent. Although, at times, she can be active like her sister or sensitive like her brother, that’s where the similarities end. Lately, we’ve discovered, we have a biter on our hands.

I was hoping perhaps it was a rare event, or perhaps just a very bad day, when I picked her up from preschool last month only to discover that she had pulled someone’s hair five different times and also bit a kid, all in the same day. Our pretty little princess was obviously having a rebellious streak.

We talked that evening about biting and how we “don’t bite our friends.” We talked about feelings and how we don’t like it when our friends hurt us, so we shouldn’t hurt them. We hoped it sunk in.

But then my husband picked up our youngest from preschool last week. It was “Hat Day” and a little boy tried to “steal” her princess hat, one of her most prized possessions. The biter struck again.

The very same day, I randomly met another mom at church whom I recognized from our preschool. When I introduced myself as “Eliza’s mom,” the other mom lit up.

“Oh, we love Eliza,” the other mom said. “We sing about her at bedtime every night.”

At first I was a little confused and not really sure how to respond. But then the mom explained that she sings her girls a “goodnight” song each night and ends it with “good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite” which her toddler replies with something similar to “like Eliza!”

I found out, at that point, that her daughter had been another victim of my toddler’s chomping, which turned into her family’s a nightly ritual/reminder that we “don’t bite our friends.” Thank goodness it was something that the other mother and I could laugh over together.

Biting can be an annoying, and sometime serious habit. But at age 2, it’s also something normal.

Let’s just hope it’s short-lived.
— Lydia Seabol Avant writes The Mom Stop for The Tuscaloosa News in Alabama. Reach her at