Why do some children bite?
Biting is a relatively common behavior in children ages 12 to 36 months. There are a few reasons that toddlers bite including,
- To demonstrate frustration
When your baby is teething, she may bite, but this is rarely a reoccurring problem. The problem is when your toddler is biting to seek attention or to demonstrate frustration. She is probably focusing on more than one person as her “victim” and is prone to biting other playmates.
When biting for these purposes, she is feeling an inner turmoil or conflict, be it jealousy, anger, fear, or confusion. These emotions can be overwhelming for a toddler who doesn’t know how to express them. Toddlers who don’t know how to control their emotions are usually the ones who bite to release them.
If your toddler is under 24 months old, she may not associate biting with pain. This means that when she bites, she doesn’t understand that she is hurting anyone.
What do you do when your toddler bites?
Be sure to let her know this is not an acceptable behavior. Get up close to her with her face in your hands, and sternly say “No bite!” Explain to her that you know she is frustrated, but that biting is not the way to fix it. Tell her that biting hurts people.
Immediately tend to the injured party in front of the biter, and let the biter see you take special care of the injury and the injured party. This will let the biter know that you are going to give special attention to the injured party, not the biter.
Although you my be tempted after a few bites, do not bite the biter back, as this only adds to the turmoil and the acceptance that biting is a normal behavior.
If your little biter keeps up this behavior, try observing what’s going on in their environment when they bite. If you isolate the cause of the biting, try and avoid the cue that sets up the child for biting. It could be that your child bites when she is tired or competing with another child for a toy or attention. You may have to keep her away from other children when she is unsupervised.
How do I prevent biting?
- Verbalize your child’s emotions for her when she appears angry or frustrated.
- Avoid anything that tends to set your child up for biting.
This may mean you’ll have to alter your everyday habits. Just remember, she will grow out of this stage eventually. If she is biting after age 3, seek help from your Pediatrician.