How To Stop A Child From Biting
Wondering how to stop a child from biting? You’re not alone.
Biting is a normal thing. After all, you need to bite in food in order to eat. Babies and kids can bite objects and toys at certain stages in their development. And some kids will explore the biting even further – by biting a person or another child.
While this might be part of their quest to get a reaction – it can also be a way to express how they feel or to seek attention from a parent.
If your child starts biting you, a family member, or other kids at school, you may be wondering what’s the best course of action.
Below, you’ll find the question from a parent who wants to know what to do when a child bites.
Then, we’ll share our answer to the question, and our recommendations to help you understand your child’s behaviors. By the end of this post, you should understand why a child bites and what you can do about it.
How To Stop A Child From Biting At School
“In recent weeks, my child has become a biter. Whenever the tides turn against him, he resorts to biting whoever “wrongs” him. This also includes daycare. I have been called a couple of times in regard to my son biting another child.
How do I stop this behavior?”
This is a phone call none of us wants to get. It’s so much harder knowing our child is hurting another child.
In younger kids, biting can be simple phase behavior, where he outgrows it as quickly as he started it. Or it can be in self-defense, or his biting could be more an act of aggression, in which he needs to be taught alternatives to handling disappointment. In any case, it will need to be made clear that biting is not acceptable behavior.
First, get as much information regarding that particular situation as you can.
Ask yourself if he’s showing biting tendencies at home with you, a sibling, or any friends.
How does he handle disappointment at home?
Armed with those answers, develop your game plan.
If you conclude it’s a phase: don’t overreact and give tons of attention to it. Be sure your child has safe items to put in his mouth if he’s breaking in new teeth.
If he’s acting out as a means of getting his way, explain how much biting hurts another person.
You could also tell him his mouth have many germs which can make someone sick.
If you conclude it’s an inability to handle disappointment, teach your child positive actions to override negative impulses.
Come up with clear and consistent language that conveys the rules and your expectations. “Standing up for yourself is okay, but biting is never an option.” Share this sentence with your child’s daycare teacher for consistency so it can be repeated to your son every time he is upset so he doesn’t turn to biting.
By finding the underlying issue behind his behavior, you will be better equipped to end it sooner.
What To Do If You Witness Your Child Biting Someone
While you may not be able to intervene at day-care or at school, if you witness your kid bite someone, you can do the following:
- Tell your child that biting is not an option. Alternatively, you can simplify the sentence with “no”, “no biting”, “no bites” or something like “biting hurts”.
- Give attention to the person who has been bitten (especially if it’s another child). The goal here is to make sure the injury is treated properly and to show the kid who bites that biting hurts.
- Once the injury has been taken care of, you can go see the biter and comfort him if he needs comfort. That said, if you have been noticing that biting is a behavior adopted to seek attention, you won’t want to give him extra attention.
- Seek alternatives or other options for the biter. For example, it’s the right time to use the sentence “Standing up for yourself is okay, but biting is never an option”. Then, explore new ways to handle disappointments with your child. Depending on his age, you may need to be creative.
- Be consistent and make sure to reward positive behaviors when alternatives are used. For example, if your child uses words to communicate his disappointment, make sure to tell him you’re proud of him for using words.
You can ask yourself the following questions if you’re still trying to figure out why your child bites.
- What happened right before my child bit someone?
- Who was bit?
- Is the same person always bitten, or is your child biting different people?
- Who was there?
- What happened after the bite?
That said, it’s also important to note that children bite for different reasons. Keep reading to learn more.
Why Children Bite
Below you’ll find the main reasons why kids bite. While some of them are normal behaviors, some may need addressing.
- Seeking cause-reaction effects
- Language difficulty or speech delay
- Way to take control
- Way to get attention
- Way to share feelings
- Revenge if someone else bites them
Knowing the reasons why a child bites will help you figure out the next steps. That said, you’ll need to be firm if you decide to implement a no-biting rule.
Final Thoughts On Child Biting Behaviors
We hope the steps above can help you stop your child from biting. Consistency is key here.
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