Biting is a common behavior in pre-schoolers, but it can be upsetting and sometimes harmful. While most kids outgrow the behavior as they mature, find out how you can deal with a child who bites.
It can be very upsetting when you witness your child biting another child, or indeed if you find yourself on the receiving end of a chomp from your little one. Although you might find it disturbing, biting behaviour is common in pre-school children and most will have bitten someone at least once and will have themselves experienced the pain of being bitten by another. Children bite less frequently after their toddler years, when biting is related to oral exploration, but they can still give a nasty nip as they get older, particularly in situations where children are placed together, such as in playgroups.
Children bite for many reasons. Quite often it occurs as a reaction when they act out of frustration. It might be a response to the child being bitten themselves, or from them being in a situation of conflict where they feel frightened and threatened. Any changes to a child’s life, such as the arrival of a new baby into the family, or a move to a new home, can cause an emotional upheaval that can result in aggressive behaviour and biting. Children may also bite because they want attention and know that they can be assured of receiving it if they create a situation where another child cries out in pain.
First of all you should make sure that both children are safe and physically apart from each other. It is likely that the child who has been bitten will be tearful and in distress, which can be upsetting for you. Check the bitten child for their injury – it is unlikely that they will need medical attention, as child bites rarely pierce the skin and just result in pain and bruising. In the event that the bitten child’s skin is broken –perhaps with bleeding observed – you should seek medical advice, as the mouth contains a lot of bacteria that can cause an infection. If only marking is observed, the bite will still have been painful and it may be shocking for you to see the results. However, try and stay calm and not react emotively to the scenario. You should try not blame or punish too harshly, as child care experts now suspect that severe punishment may lead to anger and resentment that can cause problems with future behaviour.
You should comfort both children and try to find out what caused the biting. Showing that you are not angry will help the child to express why they did the action and allow you to get to the root of the problem.
Most children who bite do it once or twice and then stop, but if your child appears to have developed a biting habit, you need to address the situation so that they learn that
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