Toddler biting is a fairly common toddler behaviour.
It usually arouses embarrassment in the parent of the biter and indignation in the parent
of the child on the receiving end.
When a toddler bites, he is telling you in the only way he knows right then, that
something is not right with him.
It may be that he/she is:
bored frustrated confused thirsty or hungry
Biting is not
a sign that your child is a bully, a bad child, or poorly parented.
Rather, it is your child's way of communicating that something is bothering him.
Biting is among the most agonising and embarrassing of toddler
behaviour, is usually fairly short lived and pretty typical of pre-verbal behavior
Toddler Biting - Frustration
The most common reason toddlers bite is because of
their inability to handle frustration.
Unfortunately, many parents whose toddlers don't bite, frequently make
judgements around this form of toddler behaviour, with the parents and biting
child often being isolated from social situations and playgroups.
If biting becomes a problem among your group of toddlers and parents, do
try to 'get it out there' by addressing it as a problem behaviour and
deciding on the joint action you will take together. It is
certainly helpful to both the biter and his parents, if everyone is on
the same page. This will stop the behaviour more quickly.
Get down to his level, eye-to-eye
State a very firm "NO! That's biting. We do not bite people!"
Remove him from play immediately
Be firm, clear and consistent in repetition.
Don't waste time lecturing your toddlers
Action is best
Toddler Biting - How To Cope!
Decide on the consequences your child will face for biting. This could be placing him in timeout or leaving the playground or playgroup immediately. Whatever you decide it is important to be clear,
firm and consistent in using this same consequence each time he bites if circumstances allow.
- Name It
Immediately name the behaviour so your toddler understands the term for it. Tell him "that's biting! We do not bite people!"
- Focus your attention on the child who is bitten
Do this in front of your child so he learns firstly that his action earns less attention
than the child who is bitten, and secondly mirror to your child concern
and sympathy to the hurt child.
Help your child to apologise to the child he has bitten. If the biting
has arisen over possession of a toy, or jostling in the playground,
help your child to make amends by giving the toy to the other child, or
by relinquishing his position.
- Apologise to the child's parents
Apologise to the child's parents then remove your child from the
situation and immediately apply the consequence.
- Be Vigilant
By being vigilant in your attention, you can usually
determine what your child needs to communicate.
- Teach him the words to
Speak clearly with your child about his biting and teach your child
ways to communicate to replace the biting. I feel cross, angry,
upset - It's my turn -It's mine, soon, you're next.
Never Bite Your Child Back!
Never bite your child back.
This only teaches him that
although children mustn't bite, adults can.
It is also helpful to cease
playing biting games with him, such as pretending to bite his toes
etc, while he is learning that biting is not right behaviour.
Toddlers need to witness their parents' healthy expressions of anger and then watch
skilful conflict resolution.
This is the way they learn how to do this for themselves.
Aim to play fair in front of them. Toddlers are constantly observing your reactions.
It's very important to be consistent in your approach so that your toddler does not get into a habit of biting.
Read More on Toddlers:
Aggression in Children
Aggression in children is part of their normal pattern of development.
Young children can act aggressively when things don't go their way - they lash out, bite, kick, hit and punch - all highly embarrassing to their parents!
Toddler Behavior - Anger -
Many parents are greatly surprised by their child's behavior when he/she displays anger. A little one's anger can seem so powerful and at times so personally directed, that it is hard not to react powerfully back. Parents can then be taken by surprise at the intensity behind their own emotions and experience considerable shame in the way they are confronted by their tot's aggression, tantrums and out right rage.
Temper Tantrums occur all too frequently!
Dealing with toddler temper tantrums, rage and sudden displays of anger, will be much easier for us if we disabuse ourselves of the whole idea that expressing anger is wrong.