Kids & Company Blog

What to do if your Child is Biting…

Some people think that the children that bite are "bad children", this is not true. They are almost always just children that are trying to communicate and to get the attention of their friends and family members.

As a parent with a toddler in child care, you may find that yourself on one end or the other. Your child may be the biter or the bitee. This all might come as a bit of a surprise because most children don't bite their parents! They are used to getting attention and having their "cues" met..

According to recent figures, almost 10% of toddlers bite at some stage of their development for a variety of reasons. Some toddlers bite because of teething discomfort, some are experimenting with their world, some are frustrated and do not have the ability to express their emotions, while others are seeking attention. Caregivers and parents may experience frustration when trying to deter biting, but it’s important to try many methods in order to get to the root of the problem. Here are some tips for parents:

1) Attend to teething pain: If your toddler is teething, biting may be a way to relieve mouth pain. Freeze carrots, teething rings, and anything else that a child may chew on to alleviate their discomfort.

2) Saying no: Clearly and firmly, let your child know that biting is not acceptable. Try saying, “Please don’t bite, it hurts, and you don’t want to hurt your friends.” Firmly telling your child “No” is a starting point for any negative behaviour.

3) Positive reinforcement: Try rewarding your child for every day he or she doesn’t bite. Keep a calendar or give them a star each day they come home without incident.

4) Validate the toddler’s feelings: It’s important to acknowledge your child’s frustration and teach them alternative methods to vent. If a child is stealing their toys teach them to use their words to express their unhappiness, or to find other new toys to play with. It’s important to tell your child biting is not an appropriate expression of frustration.

Most importantly, help them find their words, and teach them simple sign language. They need to feel that you are understanding what they want and need. Sometimes just a cuddle will distract.

Interestingly, my first biter arrived with child number 7. He is now 16 and very academic . At the time, we didn't know why he was taking big bites out of his sibling! Now we know that he had lots going on is his mind ,and was trying to share it all with them!