Children bite in order to cope with a challenge or fulfill a need. Trying your best to understand the underlying cause of the biting will help you develop an effective response.
Biting is a typical behavior often seen in infants and toddlers. As children mature, gain self-control, and develop problem-solving skills, they usually outgrow this behavior.
Children might bite to relieve teething pain, explore cause and effect (“What happens when I bite”), feel strong and in control, get attention, act in self-defense, communicate needs and desires (hunger or fatigue) or express feelings of anger, confusion, and fear (“you are in my bubble”).
To help prevent biting, it is best to ensure that schedules, routines, and transitions are consistent and predictable. Provide positive guidance by offering activities and items that are ok to bite (i.e. frozen yogurt pops or juicy apples). Biting is typically a communication or power struggle issue so be sure to model how to communicate and give children choices to give them “power” over their day.
When a bite occurs, it is very important to remember to stay calm and communicate clearly. At Tiny Hearts Academy, we respond to the child who got bit first and ensure they are ok. This gives the perception that biting is not a behavior that will earn attention. Once the bitten child is ok and calm, address the biter. Let them know it is not ok to bite and hurt another person. Let them know they need to “fix” the situation and be part of the solution. Have them go with you to get an ice pack to give the person they bit.
Address the reason behind the bite (were they fighting over a toy or in each other’s personal space) by modeling what communication they should have done instead of biting. For example, “I see you really wanted the blue truck that Charlie was playing with, why don't you ask him if you can play with it when he is done." Another approach would be to ask "How about in two minutes you both can switch trucks." Be sure to follow through with what you suggest. This ensures that being patient still gets them what they want.
For more information on how to keep your parent game strong 💪 , see Parent Pointers, a series of helpful articles, tips, and ideas.
Raising a child takes a village and we’re proud to be part of the tribe!