Toddler biting: how to stop children from biting

Toddler biting: how to stop children from biting

Ouch! Biting is a common behavior among toddlers and preschoolers, who often have strong feelings and limited language ability. Get some tips on dealing with biting.

Biting is very common among children ages 18 months to three years. Most biting reflects not only a toddler's feelings, but also her limited expressive language. A five-year-old may say, "Leave that alone. It's mine!" but a younger child may defend her turf with her teeth.

Why children bite

Biting is an emotional topic for parents. It seems so primitive and unmannered, and lots of parents think it indicates a disturbed child. Nothing gets a kid kicked out of daycare or off the birthday party list quicker than being identified as a biter. Sometimes children will bite when they're excited or even happy. At this age children usually act without thinking of the consequences. In fact, when one child bites another, the one who bit is often as surprised and upset as the one who was bitten.

Helping a child who bites

Don't wait even a few minutes to talk to your child when she bites another. Toddlers have short attention spans, so they need clear and immediate feedback. Avoid vague statements like "Now, be nice to your sister," because a toddler may not see the link between that and her biting.

 

Try this: "No! We can bite apples or sandwiches, but we never bite people!"

Biting back will not work. It only teaches her that biting is acceptable behavior. She won't understand her parent's aggression and is likely just to be scared without learning anything.

Adapted from Toddlers and Preschoolers by Lawrence Kutner, Ph.D. (Avon, 1994).

Leave a comment *Mandatory text
I confirm I have written the entirety of the content and agree to the community guidelines and terms and conditions
  • Show comments

Biting

7/22/2015

My son used to bite me extremely hard (13-17 months). I was to the point my arms and legs were spotted with bruises. Saying, "No, biting hurts mommy!" was not working, so I started with a very short time-out every time he bit me at about 16 months. He's on the cusp of 18 months and the biting has gotten much better. I'm no longer afraid of his hugs including a big bite, but man it is a difficult thing to deal with.

Biting problem

7/22/2015

My son is 11 months and has had a biting and hair pulling problem and I've had the roughest time trying to break him of it.

Potty Training Tips: Step by Step Potty Training

Nervous about starting potty training? We've all been there. And having a handy step-by-step guide really makes the process much less daunting. Get the details on step-by-step training.

Read more

Traveling With Two or More Children

Time to hit the road (or board a plane) with your little ones? Whether it's trains, planes, or automobiles, traveling with more than one child takes some planning, patience, and ingenuity. Here are some

Read more

Housework with Toddlers

Since our kids like to imitate us, why not show them ways to help around the house? Some easy chores kids can do (with parental supervision) include dusting, watering plants and sorting laundry. Get more ideas.

Read more