Tips for Biting
- Toddlers and preschoolers are more prone to biting when they're teething, hungry, tired, cranky, frustrated, angry, or bored. Watch for signs that a child may be uncomfortable or distressed, and try to help before biting even begins.
- Sometimes, toddlers bite out of simple curiousity ? to see how something tastes or feels in their mouth. This is a normal part of development. They may even bite to express affection. If this happens, you can gently but firmly say: "Ouch! Biting hurts! Please don't bite."
- Never bit your child back. This will hurt and frighten your child, and send the confusing message that biting is "okay" in some situations.
- Biting may occur when young children play or disagree. If it happens, first help the child who has been bitten. Offer hugs comforting words, and any First Aid that may be needed. Next, you can focus your attention on the biter. Don't yell or scold. Calmly, briefly, and without anger, tell the child: "Teeth are not for biting. You hurt people when you bite." Give the child a brief timeout ? about one or two minutes ? to calm down. Then redirect him or her to another activity.
- Young children may also bite to get attention. Use the above tips if biting occurs, but also consider ways to give a biter positive attention at other times. You might point out when he or she is behaving well by using positive words, such as: "I like the way you're sharing your toys," or "Giving hugs feels good, doesn't it?"
Elizabeth Verdick is the author of Teeth Are Not for Biting. Click here to read our review of her book.