If you have a toddler that continues to bite, we have some tips that might help you curb this need. Below we have outlined why toddlers bit, ways you can ease the biting, and finally, ways to prevent it altogether.
So let’s get started!
Why Do Toddlers Bite?
Don’t fret if your child bites at a young age. It’s typically a very common developmental issue during the early years.
There are several reasons why your toddler may have developed a biting tendency, such as teething or simply exploring new objects with their mouth. But what happens when they start biting you? This may seem a little strange and out of sorts.
If your child is trying to get attention, biting can be one of the ways that they do it. It’s a way to express their feelings of negativity, such as anger and frustration. It’s one of the only ways they can express this because they lack the language skills to get the right message across at an early age.
Biting someone is a quick and easy way for toddlers to immediately portray how they feel about something. But don’s worry. Biting tends to taper off as language improves.
As a Parent, How Should We React When Our Toddler Bites?
Just like children, parents can exhibit different reactions to a toddler's bad biting habits. Although there is no right or wrong way to react, there are some guidelines you should follow if you have a toddler that bites.
Never let your toddler see you react to a bite. Don’t yell, but communicate to your child that biting is not acceptable. Make sure it’s simple words that your child can understand, such as “don’t bite” or “no biting”!
Your primary concern is to let your toddler know that biting is not acceptable and that it is not a correct behavior to express feelings in this way. Don’t try and explain why to your toddler in a lengthy chat. This will overwhelm them, and they won’t get the picture.
If your child has bitten another child, you want to immediately comfort the toddler who has been bitten. If there are any bite marks, wash and clean the area before moving to the next step.
It may surprise you, but the toddlers who bite don’t understand that biting can hurt. You may find yourself comforting the child who did the biting. Sometimes, they can feel upset at what they did because they knew it was wrong but didn’t know how to control their emotions.
Just make sure you don’t comfort a biting child trying to gain your attention. This will only reinforce the behavior and make things worse.
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Teach Them Other Ways to Express Themselves
After your child’s outburst, it’s time to suggest alternatives to biting. You can help them learn how to adequately express themselves by teaching them techniques such as saying “no,” “I don’t want to,” or “stop.”
It takes slightly more encouragement and reassurance that by speaking their voice, they can get the same message across as biting.
Be a Role Model
Be a role model to your toddler. You can easily do this by showing them ways to express themselves adequately. If they do something undesirably, you can calmly respond with “please don’t do that” or “that’s not how to play nice.”
Your child should understand how words play a more significant part in expressing feelings than physical actions as they develop further.
Timeouts have become the modern way to discipline young children when exhibiting unwanted behaviors. Make sure you are consistent with this type of discipline because your goal is to teach your child that there are consequences that come with biting.
The Three Ps of Biting Prevention
Biting can be a problem if not correctly handled. For example, your child can get in trouble at daycare and be sent home. It can take some time, but there are several ways you can try to prevent biting.
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When talking about patterned behaviors, you look for specific times or events that may trigger biting behavior. If you can identify those, you might have a better chance of getting in front of it before the biting behavior starts.
If you sense your child starts biting when he gets angry, try to calm them before they get to that specific level of emotion.
Providing Alternatives to Biting
Your toddler should hopefully grow out of this biting stage as they begin to express their emotions through words. You can encourage them to use their words by gently giving examples of how you use your own words in specific situations.
Talk to them and show them that using words is the “big kid” way of expressing emotions.
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Positive reinforcement is the best way to get your child on the right track. Reward them for using their words instead of biting. Tell them that you like the way they are speaking or playing calmly and quietly.
As they grow, they will begin to understand they can express more emotions than they might have thought with the power of words rather than a bite.
If and When to See a Doctor
Hopefully, your child will stop exhibiting biting behavior by the time they are 3 or 3 ½. If not, it may be necessary to consult with a physician or child behavior specialist on how to help curb this negative behavior.
A child counselor can help find ways to curb this behavior and get your toddler back on the right track.
We hope this blog post gave you better insight into what to do if your toddler won’t stop biting. Don’t get too frustrated. It happens to the best parents all of the time, and knowing what to do is half of the battle.
Visit our website today for more great tips on toddler development and learn about our 123 Baby Box for busy moms!