Guide to Biting Behaviours for Young Children
Biting is a typical behaviour often seen in infants, toddlers, and 2 year old. As children mature, gain self-control, and develop problem -solving skills, they usually outgrow this behaviour. While not uncommon, biting can be an upsetting and potentially harmful behaviour. While not uncommon, biting can be an upsetting and potentially harmful behaviour. It’s best to discourage it from the very first episode. This article will help you to understand the reasons young children bite and give you some ideas and strategies for responding appropriately
Why children bite
Kids bite for several reasons – and most of them aren’t intentionally malicious.
- They’re in pain. When babies bite, typically it’s because they’re teething. They’re just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums. They’re exploring their world. very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths. Kids this age aren’t yet able to prevent themselves from biting the object of their interest.
- They’re looking for a reaction. Part of exploring is curiosity. Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke. They’ll bite down on a friend or sibling to hear the surprised exclamation, not realising how painful the experience is for that person.
- They’re craving attention. In older kids, biting is just one of the several bad behaviours used to get attention. When a child feels ignored, discipline is at least one way of getting noticed – even if the attention is negative rather than positive.
- They’re frustrated. Biting, like hitting, is a way for some children to assert themselves when they’re still too young to express feelings effectively through words. To your child, biting is a way to get back a favourite toy, tell you that he or she is unhappy, or let another child know that he or she wants to be left alone
How to stop biting
Practice prevention so that your child will be less likely to bite in the first place.
If your baby is teething, make sure to always have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so he or she will be less likely to sink teeth into someone’s arm.
Avoid situations in which your child can get irritable enough to bite. Make sure that all your child’s needs – including eating and nap time – are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if he or she gets cranky from being hungry.
As soon as your child is old enough, encourage the use of words (I’m angry with you’ or ‘that’s my toy’) instead of biting. Other ways to express frustration or anger include hugging a stuffed animal or a quiet place. Sometimes, shortening activities or giving your child a break can help prevent the rising frustration that can lead to biting and other bad behaviours.
Give your child enough of your time throughout the day (for example, by reading or playing together), 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 altercations appears to be brewing.
Even with your best prevention efforts, biting incidents might still occur. When your child bites, firmly let your child know that this behaviour is not acceptable by saying ‘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.
You might have heard from other parents that if your child bites you, bite your child back. This isn’t good advice. Children learn by imitation. If you bite your child. the child is going to get the impression that this behaviour is acceptable and he or she will be more likely to do it again. The same goes for hitting a child for biting.
If you are unable to get your child to stop biting, the behaviour could begin to have an impact on school and relationship. You or another adult might have to closely supervise interactions between your child and other kids. When biting becomes a habit or continues past age 4-5, it might stem from a more serious emotional problem. Talk to your child’s health care provider, or enlist the help of a child psychologist or therapist.