Tips to help you and your child survive the biting phase
Picture this: You’re sitting at the kitchen table, catching up with some friends, while your kids play together across the room. Everything is going smoothly when suddenly someone shrieks in pain and you find out your little one bit another child. As a parent, your instinct may be to recoil in shame and embarrassment, but the truth is, toddler biting is actually quite common. At Apple Montessori Schools, our staff is well-versed in all types of “acting out” behaviors that children often display, and we have learned through our years of experience what works and what doesn’t. Let’s start by looking into the “why” of toddler biting before we delve into the ways you can successfully prevent or modify the behavior.
As children develop, they are encountering so much new stimuli and feeling new emotions that they may have trouble interpreting and expressing properly. Whether they are feeling angry, excited, frustrated, tired, or misunderstood, they can start biting as a direct response to these emotions. Another aspect of the behavior has to do with exploring the body and testing it out. For a toddler, suddenly having teeth can feel confusing and intriguing, so they will bite people as a means of satisfying their curiosity and determining what their teeth are capable of. If toddlers are biting others frequently, it may also be linked to Sensory Processing Disorder. People with this condition require constant oral stimulation and they feel instant gratification when their needs are met.
While it may seem like toddler biting is a difficult habit to tackle, it turns out that there are tons of proven-effective solutions that you can experiment with. You can try any of the following to see what your child responds to best:
- These days, there are some great resources for children with biting issues. Take a trip to your local library and pick up a fun and colorful picture book that you can read and enjoy together like “Teeth Are Not for Biting” by Elizabeth Verdick.
- Consider including your child in the process while tending to an injury. Have him help out by washing the bite, numbing it with ice, and show him what it looks like so he can get a better idea of why it hurts.
- Offer your child something he can safely bite like a teething ring, “chewy” necklace, or a soft toy that he can bite on when he feels the urge to do it to another person.
- Suggest how your child might handle a situation that is triggering the need to bite. For example: Marcus, you can tell Ana: “You are a little too close to me. I don’t like it when you touch my hair.”
- If you think your child is suddenly biting other children because he craves attention, try carving out more dedicated time to spend time with him to help keep him from acting out from feelings of neglect.
- Take precautions by visiting your dentist for a check-up. It’s possible that your child is biting because of an oral health issue that is causing pain or discomfort.
When trying out these tips and tricks on your child, remember that it may take a little while before you can completely do away with this behavior. Make sure to have patience and try not to show your frustration if it takes some time for things to click into place since children are incredibly perceptive and they can pick up on your anxiety. If you would like to learn more about preventing toddler biting, we would love to hear from you.
To learn more about Apple Montessori Schools, simply fill out this contact form and we will reach out to answer all your questions and tell you more about our enriching learning programs as well. You can also contact our corporate office or find a location near you to schedule a tour with. We look forward to hearing from you!