Why is my baby biting others?
Biting is one of those behaviors the needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. Not only is biting rude, but it is dangerous. The most common reason for biting is children don’t have the social skills required to express their feelings.
Children around the age of 2-3 are the most common biters. Since their vocabulary is minimal, they often resort to biting as a way to act out their feelings, frustrations, or need for attention.
However, biting can also be a learned behavior, children mimic older children, so if other children bite that they are around, it’s not unheard of for a younger child to pick it up as well.
A few other reasons children bite is because they are teething, or they enjoy chewing on things. Chewing is a very calming activity, one that goes back to infancy, when a pacifier, breast or bottle was their best calming technique.
The great thing is, with diligence on your part, you’ll be able to correct, redirect, and cure the problem.
Correcting your child’s behavior needs to be done in a calm yet firm manner. Using this time to talk to your child about appropriate ways to express themselves, over causing physical harm to their friends.
Watch for the situation where your child may resort to biting. Is it another child on the playground that won’t play with them? Is it that they are close to nap time? Did another child take a toy they were playing with?
Step in if you notice your baby is getting antsy or frustrated. Offer them a favorite toy. The goal is to pull their attention away from the situation. Even going as far as to offer them a snack could be just what they need.
Responding immediately to a biting incident is vital. Young children have short attention spans, usually about 7 minutes for 2-year-olds, and 9 minutes for 3-year-olds. If you wait too long to react to the biting, they will not associate the behaviors.
DO NOT respond in anger. Even if they are throwing a temper tantrum, keep your cool. Help them calm down, then address how you, together, can fix the problem.
3. Keeping Your Cool
Raising your tone to match your children will not help them to understand. Staying calm, talking to them, helping them work out the problem will show them there are other ways to solve a problem. Explain to them, during the cool-down time, that biting hurts, that it’s mean. But, don’t be too vague, but don’t over-explain either.
Avoid common sayings like “Biting hurts,” “Do you want them to do it to you?” and “How do you think you made them feel?”. These common questions will only confuse your child more.
4. The Victim
Just like your child needing attention to correct the problem. Take time to console and comfort the child that was bitten. Of course, that is only if the other parents will allow you to.
During this time, the child that did the biting doesn’t get any attention, good or bad. Some kids bite to get their parent’s attention. So, if this is the case, showing your child they will lose it, as a way to help defuse future situations.
After everyone is calm, use this as a lesson, for both children. Sit them down and talk about what happened. Discuss ways they can improve and solve the problem in the future, without resorting to biting. Let them speak to each other about how they both feel.
If biting is a regular occurrence with your child. Start keeping a record, diary, or journal. Recording things like time, activities, victim, and how the situation was rectified. Look at this journal regularly to help identify patterns or particular children they target.
7. Emotion Game
If you expect that your child is biting because of emotional frustration, teaching your child to express themselves can help. Make a game out of each emotion, acting out the emotion to show your baby, then have them do the same. Soon they will understand how to express their feelings through words or facial expressions.
These websites have some great ideas about games:
8. Oral Stimulation
It may be that your child just enjoys biting. This is, in fact, not an uncommon thing. Biting and chewing are calming activities. So if your child is very stressed or nervous, biting is a way for them to relax themselves. Biting in this sense is similar to when someone bites their nails or paces.
Teach them what things are appreciated to bite. Giving them objects meant to be chewed. A few examples are pretzels, rice cakes, crunchy snacks like carrots. Teething rings and damp clothes are also perfect alternatives to their friends.
If your child is biting at daycare or with a babysitter. Talk with their caregiver to talk about how they are handling the situations. Talk to them about what’s causing it as well. What type of correction methods do they use? Help them to defuse the situation.
Your child care provider is there to provide the best care for your child. So, being on their side and helping to defuse the biting incident will, in turn, help your child.
10. Good Behavior
For children that bite for attention. Overly praising them when they are doing something right, is the best way to show them they don’t have to act out to get your attention.
In a world of instant technology, as adults, we get wrapped up in our social media, and video games. Set up a time every day where you put those down. And your child has your FULL attention. Do whatever they want to do, games, puzzles, movies, etc. Letting them be in charge for a little bit will help them to feel they have more say in their lives.
Whatever you do, DO NOT bite your child back! Or encourage them to bite their friends in revenge.
Soon you’ll have a pattern and plan in place to let your child know they can rely on you when they need help.