Biting and Behaviour
Biting is a fairly common behaviour among toddlers but as a parent it’s only natural to feel concerned, after all, you don’t really want your child to be known as the one who bites. The good news is that there are a number of things you can do to reduce and eliminate this behaviour.
Biting behaviour isn’t pleasant but luckily it’s fairly easy to combat with the right solutions.
Understanding why your toddler bites
Before you can tackle the biting behaviour issue, you first need to gain an understanding of why your child might be biting. Some children bite in order to cope with a challenge or fulfil a particular need. For example, they may bite when they are feeling frustrated about something or to communicate that they need more space (perhaps away from another child).
Trying to understand the cause of their biting will help you to find an effective solution.
Identifying the situations that lead to biting
It will also be good if you can learn to identify the type of situations that usually lead your child to biting. This will enable you to anticipate their behaviour, so you can ensure you are ready with a solution (something we will move onto in a minute).
Ask yourself, when does your child usually bite? What happens before they bite? Who are they usually with? Whose care are they in?
You may find that your child only demonstrates this sort of behaviour in certain environments or when they are around certain people. This will help you to establish their triggers.
If your child is biting for oral stimulation, give them some fruit to chew on.
Solutions for biting behaviour
Distractions – If you feel like your child may be biting as a result of frustration or even excitement, you may want to try distracting them with a toy or book. The idea is to reduce some of the tension they feel and shift your child’s attention to something else, so they do not get carried away
Talking – It is important that your toddler understands that biting is not an acceptable behaviour and that there are other ways they can deal with the situation they are in. For example, if a child bites because they don’t like another child touching their hair, ask them to politely tell the other child ‘Please don’t touch my hair, I don’t like it.’
If however your child is biting for oral stimulation, try and find something safe for them to bite on, such as a teether or even a healthy snack like carrot sticks.
Teach them to share – Often biting behaviour occurs as a result of children having to share toys with each other. In order to stop this from happening, you need to teach your little one the importance of sharing. A great way to do this is to give them a set time that they can play with a particular toy and then ask them to give the toy to someone else. Tell them that they’ve done something good. In time, they will get into the habit and even enjoy sharing with others.
Dealing with biting behaviour
Parents tend to feel really embarrassed, angry and upset when their child bites but it’s important to try and keep your own feelings in check. Take a deep breath and in a firm (but not angry) voice, tell your child ‘no biting.’
Explain that biting hurts and make them aware of how they have affected the other child and why they are now crying. Keep it short and to the point to make it clear to your child.
It’s also good to turn your attention to the child who was bitten. Showing concern and sympathy for the other child will teach your child to feel empathy. It will also show them that their biting behaviour is not rewarded with more attention, encouraging them to stop.
Whilst biting behaviour is definitely something that parents would prefer not to have to deal with, providing you go about it the right way, it’s easier than you think. Just remember to keep calm and combat the behaviour with effective solutions and your child will be playing nicely in no time.
Written by Carly Garrett