Biting is common for many toddlers. Sometimes they bite because it feels good on their teething gums and sometimes it's because they enjoy the strong reaction they get from adults. Most biting occurs between the ages of 13 months and 30 months and should stop around age three.
How to help your child stop biting
- Give children enough toys. Provide enough toys and activities to curb fighting between children over the toys.
- Have more than one “favorite” toy. Keep more than one of the most popular toys on hand so that very young children will not have to wait long to play with it.
- Watch out for predictors. Be on the look out for frustrating situations when child might lose control. If necessary, decrease the number of children your child plays near or shorten the playtime.
- Use timeouts. Tell your child that biting is unacceptable and take him to a designated timeout area for a minute or two. Remember longer timeouts are not effective for toddlers.
- Teach alternatives to biting. Teach your child to say "no" if another child is doing something he does not like. Also try offering your toddler a teething ring if he looks like he might bite another child.
- Keep your child in sight. Stay very close to your child and if he bites, immediately remove him from the situation. When he is playing well with others, compliment him to help him realize that you value this kind of behavior. This will also help build his self-esteem.
- Be consistent. Explain that biting hurts others and is not allowed. Consistently remove the child when he bites. This will help him learn that he must stop biting if he wants to play with others.
- Never hit your child. It's important not to spank, hit, or slap your child when he bites. Toddlers are unlikely to make the connection between their behavior and physical punishment and therefore this is not an effective discipline technique. Also, this will teach your toddler that violence is an appropriate response to anger or frustration, which is exactly the habit you are trying to break!
This information was compiled by Sunindia Bhalla, and reviewed by the Program Staff of The Children’s Trust.
Behavior & Discipline