How Can You Stop a Child From Biting?

baby biting cord

Let's face it; a biting child is simply not fun to be around. And while a young biting child may not be exhibiting abnormal behavior, it's still not acceptable to other kids and certainly to other parents. Having said that, a biting child is a common concern in pre-school, mom's day out programs and provider settings, especially in the toddler years.

Reasons Kids Bite

  • Teething pain. When babies bite, many times it is because they are teething and biting relieves the pain.
  • Exploring the world. Babies and toddler use their mouths to explore the world. Most things they pick up end up in the mouth.
  • Seeking a reaction. Toddlers are experimenting with what causes reactions by peers and adults. If they bite a friend and hear a scream, they may be intrigued by that reaction, unaware that their biting is painful to another child.
  • Craving attention. Biting can be an attention seeking behavior in some toddlers and older kids. When a child feels ignored, they may bite to get attention. Once a child receives attention, they may continue the behavior, even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
  • Feeling frustrated. Biting and hitting are ways for children to assert themselves. If a child is feeling frustrated or out of control and cannot appropriately state their feelings, they may act out by biting.

So, what can a parent do to discourage the bad behavior of a biting child?

How to Stop Biting

  • Encourage the use of words. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging a stuffed animal or punching a pillow. Sometimes, shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviors.
  • Give your child enough attention. Give your child enough of your time throughout the day so he or she doesn't bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling.

If your child is prone to biting, keep an eye on any playmates and step in when an altercation appears to be brewing.

  • Consistent consequences. If you see your child bite, Administer an appropriate consequence such as removal of the toy or a time-out.
  • Give positive attention to bitten toddler. Show the child who did the biting that biting does not get him or her attention.
  • Never bite your child back. Resist the temptation to bite a biting child back as a way to "show them" their wrongs. Use a positive approach instead. You don't want your toddler telling his teacher that he bites because that's what his parents do!

Even with your best prevention efforts, biting incidents might still occur. When your child bites, firmly explain to your child that the behavior is not acceptable by saying, "No. We don't bite!" Explain that biting hurts the other person. Then remove your child from the situation and give the child time to calm down.

Update by Jill Ceder

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