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Child biting: what to do?

Biting is common among young children. This is often a source of concern for parents and relatives. After all, no one wants their child to be seen as the threat of the playgroup.

Worse still, a child who bites may be expelled from day-care centers. It’s a challenge to face as a parent. What can you do about it? How can you eradicate biting behavior in your child?

Be calm and firm

Address your child by saying firmly

  • “we don’t bite!” or ;
  • “It hurts to bite!

Keep it simple and easy for a toddler to understand. Make it clear that biting is bad, but avoid long explanations until your child is old enough to understand. By remaining as calm as possible, you’ll be able to resolve the situation more quickly.

Comfort the victim

Focusyour attention on the person who has been bitten, especially if it’s another child. If there is a wound, clean the area with soap and water. Seek medical attention if the bite is deep or bleeding.

Comfort the biter if necessary

A child who bites often doesn’t realize it hurts. There’s no harm in comforting a child who’s upset about hurting someone. Older children can learn by being allowed to comfort their friend after a bite.

If the biter is using this behavior to get attention, don’t reinforce it by giving comfort and attention.

Offer alternatives

When things have calmed down, suggest alternatives to biting, such as using the words “no”, “stop” and “that’s mine”. These words will enable him to communicate with others.

Réconfortez la personne qui a mordu si nécessaire

Redirecting attention

Distraction works wonders with young children. If emotions and energy levels are high, or if boredom is setting in, help redirect the little one’s attention to a more positive activity. Activities include :

Avoid disciplinary sanctions

Disciplinary measures are generally unnecessary, as most children don’t realize that biting hurts. Never hit or bite a child who bites, as this teaches the child that this behavior is acceptable.

In most cases, biting is the result of an excess of emotion, and is almost never intended to cause harm.

Telling your child “don’t bite

Teach your child the expression “don’t bite”. To do this, your child will need to repeat it several times. That’s how he’ll learn the meaning of this phrase by repeating it frequently.

To teach your child not to bite, stand at eye level and look directly into his eyes. Then wait for him to look at you, and say “don’t bite” while using a grimacing facial expression. Try to adopt a calm tone without shouting.

Move away

To get him to stop biting, the first thing parents do is sit the child down on the floor and walk away. This teaches them that biting is not rewarded by :

  • play ;
  • cuddling or
  • interaction with others.

After telling your child not to bite, have him sit on the floor and walk away. You don’t have to go far.

When you come back to him a little later, remind him not to bite and sit down next to him. Some people suggest saying “I love you” or offering kisses and hugs at this point.

However, remember that you’re dealing with a serious biting problem and your child has no idea that this isn’t play. The whole process of saying “no biting”, walking away and then coming back is not a matter of minutes.

Examine the cause

Toddlers often have a reason for biting. Treating the underlying cause can easily eliminate the bite if used in conjunction with the previous steps.

Créez un environnement sans morsures

Create a bite-free environment

Whether you feel you’ve made progress with your child’s biting habit or it’s still a work in progress, it’s important to create a zero-tolerance culture at home, daycare and beyond.

Other tips

Here are a few ways to get your little one back on track:

Be consistent

Reinforce the “no biting” rule at all times.

Use positive reinforcement

Rather than rewarding negative actions with attention, make a point of praising your child when he behaves well. You can use phrases like “I like the way you use your words” or “I like the way you play nice” to reinforce positive alternatives to biting.

Plan ahead

Toddlers may be more comfortable and less likely to bite if they know what to expect in new or high-energy situations. If biting occurs at daycare, let your child know what to expect before leaving.

If a larger, more chaotic environment seems overwhelming, consider placing your child in a smaller one

Find alternatives

As language skills develop, you can help your child find better ways of expressing negative emotions. For example, ask children to use words when they’re frustrated or upset. This can help them calm down.

If you need help, a doctor, counselor or behavioral specialist can discuss ways to teach your child to manage strong emotions and express feelings in healthy ways.

Quand faut-il appeler le médecin

When should I call the doctor?

Biting is common in babies and young children, but should stop around the age of 3 or 4. If it goes beyond this age, if it’s excessive, if it seems to be getting worse instead of better, and if it’s accompanied by other disruptive behaviors, talk to your child’s doctor. Together, you can find out what’s causing it and what you can do about it.

The bite may have several causes. If your child is bored, teething, attention-seeking, frustrated, tired or curious he is capable of biting.

To avoid this

When teething

Try to manage the child’s pain as best you can with chew toys and over-the-counter Tylenol, if necessary.

In case of boredom

Try to make things a little more exciting at home. Dance parties are always fun.

In case of frustration

Try to understand what your child is trying to do or say and repeat it.

In case of lack of affection

Try to offer your little one more quality time.

When tired

Start putting sleep in order by reading good sleep information.

Lack of language skills

Use baby sign language and try again to repeat what you think your son is trying to say.

In case of curiosity

Sometimes children are just feeling their way around. Show them that being curious is good, but biting is bad.

What do you know about a child who bites?

Have you had this problem with your child before? Have you succeeded in making him forget this bad habit? Tell us in a comment!

If you have any questions about the behavior of a child who bites, don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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