Dealing with Biting in Young Children:

Biting is a common behavior among two- and three-year-olds. Some children bite out of frustration or to protect what they perceive as theirs. Others bite when they feel threatened, crowded, or inferior. It’s important to note that biting in young children is usually a passing phase and not a reflection of parental skills.

Here are some helpful responses:

  1. Address the behavior immediately and firmly: “Biting is not allowed.”
  2. Give attention to the bitten child, acknowledging their pain and offering to wash the area together.
  3. Guide an angry biter to a place where they can cool off.
  4. For an out-of-control biter, use a “hug hold” to help them regain composure. Embrace them firmly but gently from behind, preventing further aggression.
  5. Avoid asking questions in the heat of the moment; say, “We’ll discuss this later.”
  6. Stay in control, talk firmly without yelling when addressing biting.
  7. Stay close and intervene if a child with a history of biting becomes wound up or frustrated.
  8. Comfort the victim and involve the biter in helping to comfort them.
  9. Remember that the bitten person isn’t necessarily the cause of the biter’s anger; they may just be the closest target.
  10. Provide structure for an out-of-control biter to calm down, such as sitting quietly or cuddling.
  11. Establish consequences at a family meeting and consistently enforce them to discourage repeat biting.
  12. Understand that a biter may not provide a clear answer when asked about their actions.
  13. Teach the child that biting hurts others and gradually introduce empathy.
  14. Reinforce that biting is not an acceptable way to seek attention.
  15. Provide appropriate items for biting, like teething rings or chilled snacks.
  16. Help the child express feelings in non-aggressive ways.
  17. Understand that biting can be scary for both the biter and the victim, and support the child in overcoming this instinct.
  18. Help the child understand that biting is not a game and can cause real harm.
  19. Learn to recognize signs that the child is about to bite and intervene promptly.
  20. Consider hugging the child who bit to restore a sense of security.
  21. Respect the child’s space and stress levels as biting can be a response to excessive stimulation or anxiety.
  22. Encourage interactions between the biter and the victim, praising cooperative behavior. If a pattern of provoking each other emerges, give them some space without labeling or punishing.
  23. Allow parallel play if a biter is unwilling to play with others.
  24. Avoid excessive focus on biting behavior, as it may reinforce the unwanted behavior.
  25. If biting persists at the age of four, consider seeking professional guidance to address underlying issues.
  26. Remember that occasional biting is part of normal development and doesn’t predict future behavior problems.

By following these strategies, parents and caregivers can effectively manage biting incidents while supporting their child’s growth and development.