Parenting Guild

For The Toddler That Bites

Many parents really don't know what to do about a toddler who bites. This can make a parent wonder if their child is behaving rationally and normally. Biting is a very common occurance in toddlers and is part of an ongoing developmental process. Often a child learns to bite in a playful manner or while teething. Family members may even consider this behavior amusing and cute. They encourage biting by laughing at the child and playfully biting back. Soon the child will see biting as an effective way to get attention.

At around the age of 2 when a child's communication skills are limited, biting is a way to communicate anger and frustration. Toddlers express their anger by biting rather than by verbal communication. You can see this when another child takes away a toy. The child reacts to the situation by biting because they can't express it any other way.

So how do we deal with a biting toddler? Set the ground rules early and make it very clear to the child that we do not bite people! The child might not understand why they should not bite others but needs to learn that such behavior is unacceptable. Time-Out is an effective method of dealing with a biting toddler. Stop the child with a firm NO! Then place him in a crib, playpen or chair for a determined amount of time. Do not let him out no matter how much crying and screaming he does. After a couple of these experiences he will get the message. What is critical however, is that parents are consistent in that they punish the child everytime they bite.

If your child bites don't re-tell and laugh about the incident in front of your child, no matter how funny it actually was. You hear of parents biting their child back so they know how it feels it be biten. This makes absolutely no sense if you think about it and look at this through the childs perspective. The child bites someone, is told that you don't bite people and then gets bitten by Mom or Dad. Where is the consistency here? There isn't any.

The child will learn from the Time-Out method as long as you are firm and consistant. He will learn that biting is unacceptable and that it will not go unpunished. Parents will also be a good role model by not biting their child back. With this approach your home will be a happier healthier and safer place for everyone.

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