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Solutions for Toddlers that Bite

by SarahD on December 31, 2010


How to Stop Your Toddler from Biting

Most parents will at some point have to contend with odd or unsettling behavior from their children.  Some kids put foreign objects in their nose and ears while others eat dirt or paste (glue).  Many children have trouble learning to share, most suffer separation anxiety, all must be toilet trained, and it’s not uncommon for small children to be shy.  All of these situations will require patience and understanding on your part if they are to be treated without causing undue stress to your child.  But one behavioral problem that some parents may have to face with little preparation is the occurrence of biting.  Most people are ill-prepared to deal with biting and their first instinct will be to immediately punish a child who acts out in this way.  But kids are not animals.  If a dog or a horse bites, you can train it out of them by nipping them back to show dominance.  Kids require a more delicate touch, to put it mildly.  So if you find that your child has started biting, here are a few steps you should take to discourage this violent behavior.

The first course of action with any type of unwanted behavior is to get to the root of the problem.  You need to know why your child is biting.  Are they being harassed by other children (in other words, are they acting in self-defense)?  Are they experimenting with setting the pecking order (all kids do this in different ways)?  Or is it an issue at home that is upsetting them to the point of acting out?  When you know what is causing a certain behavior, it will be much easier to find a solution to the problem.  By first removing the stimuli, you can easily train children to stop acting out.  Of course, you may not be able to get to the root of the problem, or you may find that it has something to do with the personality of your child rather than some sort of external source.  In this case, you will simply have to treat the symptom.

Teaching children not to bite is fairly similar to removing any other type of problem behavior.  You need to take decisive action.  Be firm and consistent.  Make a plan for how to deal with their negative actions that doesn’t reinforce their behavior in any way (giving them undue attention, whether positive or negative).  The more you react, the more they are likely to continue the behavior as a means of getting attention, so remain calm and neutral.  Don’t laugh it off or explode with anger.  Simply tell them that biting is not allowed and put them into a time out.  Do this every time they bite and eventually they will learn that it’s wrong and that they will be punished.

If the behavior persists, you may want to try explaining how others feel when they are bitten and ask how your child would like it if someone else did it to them.  Sometimes an appeal to sympathy is a good way to help children see the consequences of their actions (at least when they’re a bit older).  Whatever course of action you take, the important thing is to stay consistent.  If you’re all over the map, sending kids mixed signals, you will only do more harm than good and you’ll likely encourage persistent biting.

Sarah Danielson writes for Ask Deb, where you can find Golden Corral Coupons, Red Lobster coupons and tons of other great deals on your favorite eating and shopping establishments.

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