Playfulness is very common among children. It is a big part of their exploratory stage, and usually includes running around, squealing in high pitched voices when they’re excited, or sometimes even biting. As an early childhood educator, I have looked into ways on how this can be corrected in the best way possible.
How do you stop your child from biting? There are certain steps to carefully consider. As adults, we already know that biting is a wrong thing to do. However, since we are dealing with children, they may not be aware of it yet. Hence, it will require great patience and understanding.
As mentioned earlier, biting is a common behavior among children, particularly in their early childhood days. Ideally, it should stop between the ages of 3 to 4. As I unravel the causes and steps in the course of this article, hopefully you will be put in a better position to handle such situations in the future.
Reasons Why Biting Occurs
Before we can go to prevention, it is very important to understand what are the things causing the biting behavior in the first place. As such, I have consolidated below some of the most common reasons:
This is very common for young children who are developing their teeth. To ease the irritating sensation occurring in the gums, they feel the need to bite on something (e.g. a teether).
Exploration is a very vital stage in the lives of children. Apparently, biting also plays a part in this. When your child gets a hold of a new toy, there is a high tendency for them to bite it. Similarly, since curiosity plays an active role in here, it is highly likely that they may also wonder how the people around them will react if they sink their teeth into their skin. Hence, the biting occurs.
Children may still be at the stage where they are developing their communication skills. If they are still unable to express themselves using words, they are likely to resort to biting to get the attention of the person they are reaching out to, may it be parents, teachers or classmates.
Useful Steps To Prevent Your Child From Biting
Remain Calm and Firm When Correcting
Although the biting behavior may seem alarming, it is important to note that lashing out harshly or overreacting will not be as effective since your child may not be aware that biting is wrong. Remaining calm and firm is believed to be the most effective method, followed by being consistent in implementing a “no biting” rule.
Likewise, it is also advisable to keep the lecturing short and simple so as to not confuse your child. Some sample statements you may use are: “Biting hurts, so it is not okay.” or “Please use your words next time.”
Use Positive Wording Alternatives
Having your child practice using their words in expressing themselves may be a big help in eliminating the biting behavior. It is said that the more the child can express themselves in words, the lesser they will result to biting. To do this, you can also commend them by saying, “I like it when you use your words. Very good!”
It is also highly advisable to avoid labelling a child as a biter should they be the one initiating the said behavior. As a parent, teacher or carer, it is important to carefully choose your wordings. Note that positive words and reinforcements are said to be more effective.
Prepare Fun Alternative Activities
Preparing relaxing, calming, but fun activities for your children can help divert their attention from biting. When you feel that they had been doing too much active play, you may prepare some coloring or tracing activities for them. Yoga for kids, stretching and breathing exercises may also be helpful alternatives.
Prepare Crunchy and Healthy Snack Options
Whether your child is teething or not, providing crunchy snacks like carrot sticks or healthy biscuits may help soothe the urge to bite other people. Likewise, having a snack they can bite into may help improve their mood, especially since they are highly likely to bite when they are irritated or cranky.
Allot a Well-Balanced Schedule of Activities
Too much of active play or studying may make the child restless. It goes the same when they’re only given too little time as well. As such, they will do everything they can to get attention such as biting, especially when they still cannot express their feelings well. To prevent this from happening, preparing a well-balanced list of activities for your little ones can help distribute her attention and energy evenly. For instance, after 20-30 minutes of practicing reading, you can try to let them play with their favorite toys for the next 30 minutes or so.
General Advice on Biting Prevention Among Children
Correcting a wrong behavior may take some time, especially when they are still unaware of the consequences of their actions. As such, it is important to see things from the child’s perspective too, so as you correct them; whether you’re a parent, teacher or carer, it is very crucial to consider that the goal here is to make sure your child gets it at his or her level of understanding.
While biting is a common behavior among children, early prevention is always better. Understanding the causes and keeping the suggested steps in mind are just some of the ways to help improve your situation. Remember that these steps are even more effective when accompanied by a healthy relationship and communication with your child.
My son is already 5 years old and can already speak his words. However, he can’t seem to stop biting. What should I do? While biting is very common in kids, it should stop between 3 to 4 years old. If excessive biting occurs, it is recommended to check with a child behavior specialist.
Someone once told me to bite my daughter back to correct her behavior. Is that effective? It is important to remember that children learn through imitation. As such, biting back your daughter will give her the impression that biting is okay; hence making it ineffective to correct her behavior.