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Oct 31 2011

No Fighting! No Biting! A How-To Guide For Discipline

By at 10:18 am

father disciplining childThe biggest challenge most parents of young children face is how to effectively discipline in a way that stops bad behavior, encourages good behavior, and creates a conscience.

When I was a kid, my mother slapped me on my hand, arm, or tush. And I was a good kid! The worst thing I ever did was “be fresh” (aka talking back) or fighting with my younger sister. I distinctly remember putting a book in my underpants–I might have been good, but not too smart. My mother removed the book before potching (Yiddish, slapping) me.

My husband, by his own account, was pretty mischievous–he shot his sister’s canary to death with a water gun, tried to flush his friend’s snowsuit down the toilet so she wouldn’t leave the play date, got stuck on top of the garage, and frequently heard, “Wait ’til your father gets home!” His dad then took him into the den and slapped him with a belt! It is impossible for me to imagine my lovely and loving father-in-law doing that, but he did. So did a lot of dads in those days. (In my case, my father never hit any of us. He never even raised his voice to me.)

Long ago, our friends spent Shabbos with us. We each had two small kids at the time. Their young son (probably about 2 years old) was angry at his older sister and hit her. His father, a psychologist it should be noted, took the little boy across his lap and spanked him several times, all the while saying, “We do not hit!” This is a true story.

As a parent, I was absolutely philosophically opposed to any kind of corporal punishment. But I did slip up and recall giving a potch when daughter #2 broke a bottle of nail polish all over the bathroom after being warned repeatedly, and a slap on son #2’s tush when he broke an expensive doll after being similarly warned, and a big yell and zets (Yiddish, more than a potch) on son #1’s tush when he ran into the street–I was very pregnant and didn’t get to him fast enough to prevent his sprint. I think I must have hit daughter #1 at least once, but neither of us recall when. I regret these times when I was so out of control that I physically hurt my child. It was wrong in my scheme of things. Their provocative behavior was never repeated–partially, I think, because of the shock of my reaction. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 29 2011

Ask Bubbe: A Baby with a Biting Problem

By at 1:53 pm

Dear Bubbie,

My wonderful, adorable grandson is 16 months old. He was just in for a 12 day visit from LA. He has started biting his mom and dad when he puts his head on their shoulder or leg–not always but often. It seems to be a sign of affection for him as he smiles broadly when he does it. He is still getting some side and back teeth, so I thought it might be teething. He doesn’t seem to do it with anyone else. They say “no!” firmly and put him down for a minute, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.

His mom had been away for one week and then two weeks later, he came east and has been alternating between bubbie’s house, savta’s house, and an aunt’s house–his parents have been with him the whole trip back east, except for a wedding one evening.

Any suggestions.


Bubbie Sue

Hi Susan,

The first thing I note is all the change which has been taking place in the last few weeks; this will certainly destabilize a small child and could well lead to all sorts of stress-related behaviors.

Babies and toddlers bite for many reasons–curiosity, teething discomfort, frustration, power-seeking, and stress. Certainly a 16-month-old is in the throes of teething. The molars and those tricky canines (eye-teeth) can cause him pain and make him likely to want to chomp onto something for relief; but this sort of ‘smiling bite’ sounds more like a psychological rather than physiological reason. Read the rest of this entry →


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