In the most endearing ways, toddlers hug you, shrieking with joy, and snuggle up to you when they’re tired. Children can do some less-than-adorable things, as anyone who has had the pleasure of parenting can attest to personal experience, like biting.
Even while toddlers are prone to biting, that’s no comfort if yours does. In the end, no parent wants their child to be viewed as a danger to the rest of their friends at play. Biters may be expelled from daycare centers, a situation that no working parent wants to face at all.
A lot of people think that biting is just a phase that they’ll have to go through, but that’s not always the truth. To discover why your child bites, you might try a number of different ways. You can help stop this type of conduct by following these steps, which are detailed below.
Why Do Toddlers Bite
Early infancy is a time when children are prone to biting. There are many reasons why babies and toddlers bite, including teething and exploring new toys and objects with their mouths. In order to test their newfound understanding of cause and effect, they may bite a human being.
The act of biting can also be used as a means for toddlers to obtain attention or express their emotions. Toddlers are unable to express their feelings of frustration, rage, and fear because they lack the linguistic skills to do so. They may bite as a method of saying, “Pay attention!” or “I dislike that!” if they are unable to find the words they need quickly or express how they feel.
Boys are somewhat more likely to bite than girls, and it’s most common between the ages of one and two—biting decreases when a person’s linguistic skills develop.
What Can We Do to Prevent the Bite?
When a child bites, it’s critical to address the problem as soon as it occurs. Try these steps the next time your child bites:
- Step 1: Maintain a level head. Do not be afraid to say to your youngster, “no biting!” or even, “biting hurts!” Keep it simple and straightforward enough that even a toddler can follow along. Biting is wrong, but don’t go into detail until your youngster is old enough to grasp it. Keeping your cool will expedite the resolution of the problem.
- Step 2: Provide emotional support to the victim. In particular, pay attention to the youngster who has been attacked. Clean the area with soap and water if there is an injury. Consider getting medical attention if the wound is deep or bleeds.
- Step 3: Try to make the biter feel better. Sometimes, toddlers are unaware that biting is painful. When a youngster is angry because they have wounded someone, it’s okay to offer comfort. Being allowed to soothe their companion after a bite could teach older toddlers something. However, if the biter is utilizing the action to obtain attention, you don’t want to promote this behavior by providing comfort and attention to them.
- Step 4: Present various options. Recommend non-biting communication methods such as saying “no,” “stop,” and “that’s mine” when the situation has calmed down.
- Step 5: Redirect. Kids this age respond well to distraction. When a child’s energy and mood are out of control, or they are bored, transfer their focus to something more constructive, such as dancing, coloring, or playing a game.
Most kids don’t comprehend that biting hurts; thus, it’s not necessary to enforce any punishment. To educate a child that biting is acceptable, don’t beat or bite them back.
Using timeouts may be an option if you’ve already tried the previous methods without success. A dedicated timeout space, such as a kitchen chair or the bottom step, can be used for older toddlers to settle down for a few minutes.
About one minute per year old is a fair timeout rule of thumb. There is no incremental benefit to longer timeouts. Even if your child gets up (and refuses to come back) before you signal that the timeout is over, they might still derail your good intentions!
Setting the Stage for an ‘Ecosystem Without Bite’
Establishing a zero-tolerance policy in your home, daycare, and other areas where your child spends time is essential regardless of whether or not your child has developed.
You can help your child get back on track with these tips:
- Consistency is key. Maintain a zero-tolerance policy toward biting.
- Make use of positive feedback. Be sure to praise your youngster when they act properly instead of rewarding bad behavior with attention. Instead of rewarding biting, say something like, “I appreciate how you utilized your words,” or “I like how you’re playing softly,” to reinforce more constructive behaviors.
- Be prepared. Knowing what to expect in a new or high-energy scenario may help toddlers feel more at ease and less likely to bite. Explain to your child in advance what will happen if they are bitten while in daycare. If a larger, more chaotic setting seems too much for your youngster, you might want to consider a smaller one instead.
- Try to think about other options. As your child’s language skills improve, you can assist him, or her find better methods to convey negative feelings. One way to help kids who are frustrated or upset is by instructing them to “use their words. An expert in the field, such as a doctor, counselor, or behavioral specialist, can help you teach your child how to handle their emotions in a healthy way.
Is There a Time to See a Doctor?
At 3 or 4 years old, children should cease biting their peers. You should consult your child’s doctor if it persists beyond this age, is excessive, or is accompanied by other unpleasant behaviors. By working together, you can uncover its root causes and devise strategies for combating them.