Preventing Biting Habits in Toddlers

10th October 2023

Exploring the motivations behind toddler biting and providing strategies to help prevent it is what we are here to discuss.

Despite their diminutive size, infants and young children can have a powerful bite, so it is important to address this issue with haste. Not only can it be painful for you, their siblings, and their friends, but it could also create more serious problems when they attend playgroups or daycare.

As infants become toddlers, they progressively gain new behaviors. While many of these are endearing, some are less agreeable. Though you may be charmed by their mispronunciations and wet smooches, biting is an unwelcome trait that some kids acquire.

Dealing with a toddler who bites can be very taxing on one's emotions, and it can be difficult to know how to respond. It is important to remember, however, that the reaction you have to the situation will either help to resolve it or make it worse.

No single method is available for preventing a toddler from biting, so a combination of approaches may be needed to manage the issue. Here are some possible solutions to attempt:


1. Maintain your composure

It is vital to stay composed, but resolute. It is essential to be unmistakably clear that biting is not allowed, but all the while, maintain your composure.

When your toddler hears you raise your voice or get angry, they may become angry as well. If you go into too much detail about why they shouldn't bite, your kid may not be paying attention or feel overwhelmed. The ideal approach is to be straightforward.

Each time a biting incident occurs, make sure to address it. Remind the child that it causes pain and isn't allowed. Utter a phrase like "no biting" or "stop biting" and move the child away from the situation in a composed manner. Repetitive correction can be beneficial in reducing this behavior.


2. Give comfort

In order to help young children recognize that their biting can be painful to those around them, if a toddler bites a friend or a brother/sister, it is important to provide comfort to the person that was bitten.

When your offspring sees you offering comfort to the person who was bitten, they will begin to understand that biting is a painful experience and does not result in a great response or much notice.

Conversely, when the toddler grasps the situation and starts to cry due to realizing that they caused harm to another person, it is important to provide comfort. Nevertheless, the primary focus should still be on the person who has been hurt, and the biter should be reminded that their actions had a negative effect on someone else.


3. Educate them on different ways to express themselves

Little ones may resort to biting when they are not able to communicate effectively (or in any way). If they feel overwhelmed, scared, or even delighted, they can express these strong feelings by biting.

If your toddler is capable, encourage them to communicate verbally instead of biting. For instance, if a playmate attempts to take away a toy, your child may bite. To prevent biting, help your toddler learn to say "no" or "stop" when things don't go as they wish.

If this tactic fails and your son or daughter persists in biting, take them away from the environment. Taking away the possibility of playing with their pals might serve as a reminder to them that they should use their words in similar situations in the future.

In order to prevent further biting incidents, it's wise to keep a close eye on the situation if you're not able to take them away. Quickly addressing the issue is the best way to defuse it.


4. Allotting Timeframes

Timeouts can be allotted in order to keep things in order and running smoothly.

If biting persists, consistency is key when implementing timeouts. This approach is likely to be successful.

Whenever your kid bites, it is suggested that they be placed in timeout as an effect. This serves to demonstrate that biting carries consequences. The duration of timeout should be equivalent to the age of the child in minutes; one minute for every year.

For a two-year-old, the duration of a timeout should last two minutes, while for a five-year-old, the timeout should last five minutes.

Timeouts should not be seen as a punishment, but rather, a way to provide relief for the child. It provides them with a moment of respite from the circumstances that led to the biting and allows them to regain their composure. Even the first time a child bites, it can be done in a relaxed fashion.


5. Be a good example

You can teach your toddler what is appropriate behavior by modeling it for them. If they take a toy or strike someone, let them know that the behavior is not acceptable in a calm manner and guide them to a better option.

Karen Katz's book "No Biting" and Elizabeth Verdick's "Calm-Down Time" are both worth considering if you're looking for ways to positively handle your frustrations.

What Should be Avoided

It is not uncommon to hear someone suggest that a parent should bite their child in order to teach them a lesson. However, there is no proof that this technique is effective.

Take into account how it could be sending mixed messages. Why is it an issue for them to bite, yet okay for you to do it? Instead, concentrate on the root of the problem to prevent more biting.

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