Reacting to Biting Behavior
There’s no doubt about it that biting behavior can be alarming. Even seasoned professionals can be frightened and confused by witnessing biting behavior even though an estimated 1 in 10 toddlers will bite. Instead of overreacting or freezing from uncertainty, it is important to act quickly and calmly when biting occurs.
Some steps to take when reacting to biting behavior:
Talk to the child and tell them “it’s ok to be mad, but we do not bite. Biting hurts other people. Instead, let’s talk about our feelings.” Obviously, younger children will not yet have the words to express themselves, but helping them develop these words as tools can eventually help in preventing biting behavior.
Optional Resources for Further Study
- What do to when toddlers bite, Hand in Hand
- Responding to Your Child’s Bite, The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, Vanderbilt University
- A dose of special time in the morning, Hand in Hand
- Toddlers and Biting: Finding the Right Response, Feb 22, 2016, Zero to Three
- Biting questions: When a toddler bites, how do you handle the biter, the victim — and both sets of parents?, By Bridget Murray Law, February 2011, Vol 42, No. 2, American Psychological Association