One of the most common problems that parents and child care workers run into with toddlers is the dreaded biting phase. Not every toddler goes through this biting problem, but a large majority do at one time or another. For some, the phase consists of one bite and done. For other toddlers the biting becomes a regular thing that never seems to end.
Why is there so much difference between children? The truth is, it is in the response of the adult that was present that the answer is found most of the time. This means that the cure for a biting toddler is really not allowing it to be a habit in the first place. For those that are facing a toddler that already has the habit, these tips will also help you. Here are some tips to help you deal with that biting toddler in your home or child care center:
The first thing that you need to know is that a biting toddler is not trying to be evil or vindictive. They are looking for an outlet for stress of some kind, or they are reaching out for attention. The biting toddler is trying to tell you something. The key here is to not overreact. The vast majority of parents will freak out the first time a toddler bites. This is a huge mistake as it scares the person that got bitten, and the child that did the biting.
Stay calm and let the biting toddler know that the behavior is not acceptable. Immediately give them an alternative solution to the urge. Give them something that they can carry around such as a teething ring, or other safe item to chew on. Tell them when they feel like biting, they are to bite the item instead. Do not make a huge deal of it, or you will reinforce the behavior without meaning to.
Also, let the biting toddler know that you relate and understand their feelings of frustration. This is very important because it lets them know that what they are feeling is normal. It gives them the urge to please rather than the urge to get attention through biting.
The biggest mistakes we make with biting toddlers is what we actually do when they bite. Do not ever bite them back or have them bite themselves. Not only is this ignorant and dangerous, but it just fully enforces the fact that biting is a viable alternative. Never do this.
Never scream and blow up about this behavior either. This gives the attention they are craving, though maybe not in the way that they intended. When a child is starving for attention, they do not care how they get it.
Do not spend more than a moment or two on explaining why it is wrong. Give a brief explanation and move on. The longer you spend on it, the longer the child has the attention they were craving. It is much better to move on to some other activity, and to give them positive attention in it’s place.
Biting toddlers will quickly eliminate biting as an option when they see that it is not getting the desired results. The more you harp on the issue, the more likely they will do it again. Acknowledge the bite, replace the biting behavior with a better option, and then praise the child when they use the new option. This will stop biting toddlers in their tracks, and leave that biting toddler phase in the dust.