Toddlers do the cutest of things. They give you surprise hugs, shriek with delight and cuddle up to you when they are tired. However, as any parent of a toddler knows, they can also do some less-than-adorable behaviors, such as kick, scream, or even bite.
Although biting is normal in children this age, it is of no consolation if your toddler does bite. After all, no one wants their child to be known as the playground bully. Worse, children who are tagged “biters” may be rejected from childcare centers, which is a task no working parent ever wants to confront.
You could believe that biting is just another phase through which you will have to go through, but this is not always the case. There are a few options for getting to the bottom of this.
Biting is a common occurrence in childhood. Young children bite for a variety of reasons, ranging from teething to testing what kind of reaction they will get. Many youngsters between the ages of one and three have a biting period that they eventually grow out of.
Why does your child bite?
Children bite for a variety of reasons, the majority of which are not malicious.
- They bite when they are in excruciating pain. Teething is the most common reason for newborns biting. They are only doing it to ease the discomfort of their swollen, sore gums.
- When they are getting to know their surroundings. Children (the small ones) explore with their tongues, much as they do with their hands. Almost everything that newborns and toddlers pick up ends up in their mouths. At this age, children are unable to stop themselves from biting the object of their liking.
- When they are thriving for attention. Biting is one of several negative behaviors adopted by older children to gain attention. Discipline is at least one way for a youngster who feels ignored to be acknowledged, even if the focus is unpleasant rather than positive.
- They tend to bite when they are waiting for a response. Curiosity is an important aspect of exploration. Toddlers play around with their behaviors to see what kind of reaction they will get. To hear the astonished exclamation, they will bite down on a friend or sibling, without realizing how terrible the experience is for that individual.
- They also do it when they are irritated. When a youngster is too young to communicate sentiments successfully through words, biting, like punching, is a means for them to establish themselves. Biting is a means for your child to reclaim a beloved toy, express dissatisfaction with you, or notify another youngster that they want to be left alone.
What can you do to put an end to the biting?
When it comes to biting, it is critical to address the problem as soon as possible. Try these steps the next time your child bites:
Step 1: Maintain a calm and assertive demeanor. “No biting!” or “biting hurts!” should be your child’s response. Keep it simple and easy to understand for a toddler. Make it obvious that biting is unacceptable but refrain from giving long explanations until your youngster is old enough to comprehend them. Maintaining as much calm as possible will aid in the faster resolution of the crisis.
Step 2: Assist the victim in his or her recovery. Pay extra attention to the individual who has been bitten, particularly if it is a child. If an injury occurs, clean the affected area with soap and water. If the bite is severe or bleeding, get medical attention.
Step 3: If necessary, console the biter. Toddlers frequently may not know that biting hurts. It is acceptable to console a child who is sad over injuring someone. Allowing older toddlers to console their friends after a mouthful may teach them something. However, if the biter is doing it to obtain attention, you do not want to encourage it by providing comfort and attention.
Step 4: Provide options. When things have cooled down, try using words like “no,” “stop,” and “that’s mine” instead of biting to communicate with others.
Step 5: Redirect is the fifth step. With youngsters this age, distraction does wonder. Help shift a child’s focus to a more pleasant activity, such as dancing to music, coloring, or playing a game, if emotions and energy levels are high or boredom has set in.
Most children are unaware that biting hurts them, therefore discipline is rarely necessary. Never punch or bite a biting youngster, as this teaches the child that biting is acceptable behavior. If the issue persists after you have done the instructions above, timeouts may help. For a minute or two, older children can be escorted to a designated timeout spot, it can be a kitchen chair or the bottom step, to settle down. Timeouts should be roughly 1 minute per year of age as a general guideline. Longer timeouts are not beneficial. They can also sabotage your efforts if your youngster gets up (and refuses to return) before the timeout is up.
Biting occurrences can happen despite your best efforts to prevent them. When your child bites, make it clear that this is not acceptable behavior by responding. Tell them you are not going to bite them if they do something, or if you feel some way. Explain that biting the other person is hurtful. Then take your youngster out of the environment and give him or her time to relax.
If your child bites you, you may have heard from other parents that you should bite back. This is not a decent piece of advice. It is only going to worsen the situation. If you bite your child, the child will believe that such behavior is okay, and they will be more likely to repeat it. The same is true when a child is smacked for biting.
If you cannot get your child to quit biting, it could start to affect his or her schoolwork and relationships. You or another adult may need to keep a close eye on your child’s interactions with other children. If biting becomes a habit or continues past the age of four or five, it could be a sign of a more significant emotional condition. Consult your child’s doctor or seek the advice of a child psychologist or therapist.
Here are some suggestions for getting your child back on track:
Consistency is key. At all times, reinforce the “No biting” rule. Positive reinforcement should be used. Make it a point to congratulate your child when he or she acts properly, rather than rewarding negative behavior with attention. To promote good alternatives to biting, use phrases like “I like how you utilized your words” or “I enjoy how you’re playing softly.”
Make preparations ahead of time. If toddlers know what to expect in unfamiliar or high-energy situations, they may be more relaxed and less likely to bite. Tell your child what to expect if biting occurs at childcare before you leave. If a larger, more chaotic situation is too much for your child, consider placing him or her in a smaller setting.
Look for alternatives. As your child’s language skills improve, you can assist him or her in better expressing unpleasant emotions. When children are agitated or upset, for example, telling them to “use their words” can help them relax. A doctor, counselor, or behavioral specialist can explain ways to teach your child to handle powerful emotions and express feelings in a healthy way if you need assistance.
If you have been bitten, the first thing you should do is wash the area with soap and water. Skin can be broken by even the tiniest of teeth. Call your child’s doctor if the bite really is bleeding and the cut is deep. Antibiotics or even a tetanus shot, or both, may be required if the bite requires medical attention.
When you should consult a doctor?
Biting is typical in infants and toddlers, but it should stop at the age of three or four. Talk to your child’s doctor if it persists past this age, is excessive, appears to be growing worse rather than better, and occurs in conjunction with other distressing behaviors. You can find out what is causing it and how to deal with it if you work together.
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