1 Does this Sound Familiar? Responding to M. arc is preparing dinner and his two children Jack your Child's Bite (3 years) and Jalen (11/2 years) are playing with cars on the kitchen floor. Suddenly, Marc hears a bloodcurdling scream coming from Jack that quickly turns into sobs. Between sobs, Jack shows his dad his arm and slowly says, He bit me. Jalen has bitten Jack. Marc is frustrated. He doesn't know what to do. Jalen bites often. He bites his brother, other children on the playground, and children in his childcare class. Marc is not sure how to respond. He wonders if he should use time out as a consequence, but thinks that Jalen is just too young to understand the relationship between biting and a time out.. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early learning Vanderbilt University The Focus Exploration and learning One of the most important ways toddlers What Can You Do? Many toddlers and young children bite. learn about their world is through Children can be taught more appropriate Developmentally, most toddlers don't their senses.
2 Biting might be a way ways to express their needs and have enough words to express how to find out what an object, or person, feelings. they are feeling. They primarily rely on feels like. In other words, their biting sounds and actions to communicate what they are thinking and feeling.. might be trying to communicate, You seem interesting. I wonder Observe Biting is one of the ways toddlers what you feel and taste like? Observe your child to attempt to express their needs, desires, or understand more about why he/she feelings. While biting might be very Oral stimulation Some children bites. Identify any patterns, such as frustrating, your child is not biting bite because they enjoy and seek out what happens before your child bites. purposefully annoy you or hurt the physical sensation of biting or Notice when, where, and who your anyone. your child might be biting to chewing. child bites. Does he/she bite when say, I'm scared, People are Teething Many children crowded in a small space with other crowding me, or, I'm frustrated.
3 Experience pain when they are children, or when he/she is hungry or Naturally, parents and caregivers worry teething. Biting or chewing on sleepy? Does he/she bite when there are that biting might seriously injure something can help ease the pain of a number of children present or when another child. And they worry about teething. the noise level is high? the negative impact for the biter as Monkey see, monkey do Toddlers well, such as being avoided by other love to imitate or copy the behaviors children. The good news is that there of others. They learn so much by are many ways to reduce and to stop a practicing behaviors they observe. child's biting. For example, if Jalen sees Sara bite and sees that Sara receives quite a bit Why Do Children Bite? of attention for biting (even if it is Young children bite for many different negative attention), Jalen might want reasons. Understanding why your to try out that biting behavior to see toddler might be biting is the first step how the various adults in his life in reducing or stopping the behavior.
4 React. The following are some of the reasons Coping with uncomfortable young children bite. feelings When children are hungry, sleepy, bored, or anxious, they are Communicating frustration less able to cope with life's ups and Many young children bite out of downs (for example, a toy being frustration. They often do not know taken, not getting that second cookie other ways to express their strong after lunch) and might resort to feelings. Biting might communicate biting instead of finding other ways messages such as, I don't like that to express their needs or feelings. or I want that toy or You are in Try to prevent biting my space.. Normal but Unacceptable Once you understand why and when your child is likely to bite, you can try to Challenges in playing with While biting is a typical behavior for change situations in order to prevent it. others Some young children can young children, that doesn't mean it is The following are just a few ways you become overwhelmed when playing acceptable.
5 Biting can cause discomfort, can use your observations to this end: near or with others. They might not angry feelings, and on occasion serious know how to share, take turns, or injury. Other children may begin to If your child seems to bite when communicate their wishes or make negative comments about ( , frustrated: interests. he's mean ) or avoid playing with You can say, You are so frustrated. Cause and effect Toddlers might children who frequently bite. Social You want that toy. Teach your child bite to see the effect it has on reactions such as these can be very simple words such as mine or others. They learn quickly that it harmful to a child's relationships with no. Teach some basic sign gets a BIG reaction and has a major other children and his feelings about language or gestures for things like Sean Locke impact from both the children they himself. help or stop.. bite and the adults who witness it. The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early learning Vanderbilt University If your child seems to bite because he/she is overwhelmed If you think your child might be biting for oral stimulation: What Can You Do in the Moment by playing near or with others: Offer crunchy healthy foods When your Child Bites?
6 Join your child in play by sitting on such as crackers, rice cakes, or the floor and coaching him/her in pretzels at snack intervals 1 Quickly yet calmly remove your play. your child might need help to throughout the day. Or, provide child from the person he has bitten. understand other children's ideas. appropriate and interesting items Calmly ( without yelling or He/she might also need guidance to for your child to chew on ( , scolding), clearly, and firmly say, learn and practice how to join play, teething toys). Stop. No biting. Biting hurts.. take turns, share, communicate Show and explain the effect of the If your child is biting because bite on the other child. For with other children, and get help if he/she is teething: example, you might say, Jack is he/she needs it. For example, if Give him/her a teething ring or crying and sad because the bite another child tries to take your cloth to chew on. Chilled hurts him.. child's doll, you might say, Molly teethers can also soothe sore thinks your doll looks fun.
7 She 2 Focus most of your attention on the gums. wants to play too. Can we show child who was bitten. Understand- Molly where the other dolls are? If your child tends to bite ably, adults often react strongly to when he/she is tired: If you think your child is biting the child who bit as they try to Provide increased opportunities to see what happens when he/she correct the biting behavior. for your child to rest. Gradually bites: However, even negative attention move naps or bedtime up in 10- Clearly and calmly let your child can encourage the biting. Helping to 15-minute intervals to earlier know that biting hurts. Keep your to soothe the child who was bitten times. Ask your child's other reaction neutral, non-emotional, teaches empathy and helps the child caregivers to watch and stay short, and as uninteresting as who bit to understand the power of close when he/she seems tired. possible to avoid teaching that his actions. It might be helpful to Minimize stressful or stimulating biting has a big effect on the adult.
8 Say to the child who was bitten, activities when your child is An adult's big reaction can be very I'm so sorry this happened. I know tired. rewarding and reinforcing. biting really hurts, as a way to Encourage your child to experiment If you believe your child might model apologies and empathy. with cause and effect in other ways. be biting when he/she is Avoid trying to get your child to For example, you might want to hungry: apologize. While it is important for show him/her how to wave bye Try to offer more frequent your child to develop empathy, bye so that others will wave back, healthy snacks. Show your child trying to get your child to apologize or let your child tickle you and then what he/she can bite food. typically results in paying more give him/her a big laughing If you believe your child might attention to the biter and not the reaction. bite when he/she is bored: child who was bit. Provide novel, interesting 3 Acknowledge your child's feelings.
9 Activities and toys to explore and You might say something like, play with. Change the You are frustrated. Let's find environment as needed (when another way. Touch gently or ask you see your child becoming for the toy. You can say, Can I. bored or unfocused) by rotating have that? . toys or going outdoors or into different play spaces. 4 When your child is calm (not in the heat of the moment), teach him/her If you believe your child might other ways to express his/her needs bite when he/she is anxious: and desires. For example, you Talk about any changes he/she might say to your child, Biting might be experiencing. Help hurts. Next time, if Sienna is your child put words or signs to grabbing your toy you can say stop his/her feelings. Attempt to keep or ask a grownup for help. It confusion and uncertainty at a might be helpful to role play minimum by talking about scenarios where your child can transitions, schedules, plans, etc. practice saying stop or help.
10 The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early learning Vanderbilt University What to Do When Biting Continues Be patient. It can take time to learn a new way to cope with difficult feelings. Continue to observe and try to understand as best you can the purpose of the biting, the need it is meeting. Stay calm when it happens and focus on teaching your child alternative ways to get needs met. Continue to help put words to your child's experience: You don't like it when Jalen bites. You can say stop.' . Shadow or stay within arm's Read books distance of your child during about biting. As playtime with other children you read, ask your child how and/or at times when you believe the different characters might be your child might be more likely to feeling. If you have an older toddler, When to Seek Professional Help bite. Staying close gives your child you can ask him/her to read the If your child's biting does not decrease a sense of security and makes it book to you by telling you what is over time, you might want to consider easier to intervene before your happening based on the pictures.