Biting is a common and upsetting experience in early childhood development. It has a huge impact on everyone – the children, you , your family and all of our educators. Unfortunately, there is no magic cure and no one to blame. Toddlers bite for a variety of reasons as seen below, and researchers tell us that it is a normal stage of development.
Developmental factors which may cause a child to bite are:
Frustration from failure to communicate their needs and wants-This is a way for some children to assert themselves when they’re still too young to express feelings effectively through words.
Teething – When babies bite, typically it’s because they’re teething. They’re just doing it to relieve the pain of their swollen, tender gums.
Oral exploration – Very young children use their mouths to explore, just as they use their hands. Just about everything infants or toddlers pick up eventually winds up in their mouths
Looking for a reaction- Toddlers experiment to see what kind of reaction their actions will provoke, not realizing the consequences of their actions.
Limited self-regulation or self-control (because they are still gaining these skills)
How to prevent children from biting
For little children, have a cool teething ring or washcloth on hand so they will be less likely to sink their teeth into someone’s arm.
Make sure that all of your child’s needs including eating and nap time are taken care of before you go out to play. Bring along a snack to soothe your child if they get cranky from being hungry.
Teach your child other ways to express frustration or anger. Like, hugging a stuffed animal or punching a pillow, and if they old enough, help them to express their frustration verbally, eg. I am angry because he broke my toy … so that you understand what the problem is and how to fix it.
Spend some quality time with your, like playing together, reading, or taking a walk child during the day, so they don’t bite just to get attention. Extra attention is especially important when your child is going through a major life change, such as a move or welcoming a baby sibling.
Managing the situation
We know that biting frequently occurs in early childhood settings because of the age of the children and the additional demands placed on them by group care. No early childhood environment is immune and it occurs even with talented and dedicated educators and a high quality curriculum. Toddlers use biting to explore and learn, communicate with others, get control of their world and release tension. Although biting may be part of normal development, it is not regarded as acceptable behaviour. Rest assured we take every instance of biting seriously. We have strategies to deal with biting and take the following action.
- anticipate and intervene where possible by observing and analysing the play environment
- do not punish biting behaviour
- let the child know that biting is unacceptable
- comfort and give lots of attention to the bitten child
- teach alternatives to biting by talking about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ biting with the child, and
- teach other children how to protect themselves from being bitten.
When we have episodes of biting, it can be very stressful for everyone. We will do everything possible to ensure the safety of your child. If you would like more information on biting in child care, our policy and procedures, or the strategies that we use, please ask for Miss Chantelle at our centre.