Prayer & Positive Reinforcement

for Eliminating Biting

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

Copyright © 2004

I have tried every thing to stop my 2 year old to stop biting.  I have bit back, popped him, used Time Out, and everything.  He is biting at day care, where I work, but I canít do anything to him there, but send him home; which means I have to go home with him.  Please tell me what to do.

At Witís-End


Dear Witís-End,

Pray to God like the solution is all up to Him.  Ask Him to help you with your problems each morning and thank Him each night. 

Then work at the problem like it is all up to you.  Since negative reinforcement is not working and you cannot use it at work, try positive reinforcement.  Try M&M reinforcement.  If He doesnít like M&Mís use something equally small and discrete which is his favorite.

Most children like candy and will work like crazy to get them.  Tell him that every ten minutes that he doesnít bite he will get an M&M.  To administer this treat, just go over and whisper in his ear:  that he is such a good boy and you are very proud of him.  While you do this slip the M&M in his mouth.  No one is the wiser.  The whole sequence takes less than 5 seconds. 

Tell him if he bites he doesnít get any more M&Mís the rest of the day, because Mommy has to take him home.  That means mommy canít work to get money to buy M&Mís.  So there is no M&Mís for him.

This may take a few times, for him to catch on.  After he has not bitten for significant period of time, start to taper off the M&Mís to every fifteen minutes for a while.  Over time change the increment to every twenty minutes.  You may want to give him two M&Mís to sweeten the deal for waiting so long. Then later go to a half hour. 

Over time, taper the event to an intermittent schedule.  In this way he doesnít know when he will be reinforced for not biting, so he will keep trying to please you to get the reward.  Intermittent positive reinforcement is the best form or reinforcement as the behavior to get the reward never extinguishes. 

Good luck and God bless!

Annette Nay, Ph.D.

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