What to do when your toddler bites

Your sweet, adorable toddler bit another child today. It’s the message we all hate to receive. How, you wonder, could my child be so mean?
He has learned by chance that his teeth are quite powerful. When he is exasperated by his inability to get his own way, a good bite will at least get a reaction.
Biting is pretty typical behavior among the toddler set so don’t panic, he’s not a criminal in the making. However he needs to learn that biting is not a way to handle frustration or anger.
If the problem is at his childcare or preschool work with the staff to help him learn that biting is never acceptable.
Frustration is a common concern with toddlers. They want to be able to do everything for themselves and can’t. They want to talk about what’s bothering them but often do not have the language. So, they chomp on something and that all too often is another kid’s arm.
Teach them better ways to handle their feelings safely. Let them know that when they are upset they can punch a pillow or run around the room or jump up and down. They need an outlet, so give it to them.
Reduce their frustration as much as possible. Make their lives simple and predictable so they feel they have some control over their environment.
If he does bite, put your hand on his mouth and tell him firmly that biting hurts and is not okay. Remove him from the other kids. Take him away with you and hold him until he calms down. If there are other kids you need to watch, just take him across the room and keep him with you. Tell him he cannot play with others if he hurts them. Once he is calm, remind him that he can play with the kids as long as he isn’t hurting them.
When he does bite, pay more attention to the victim than to him. When you remove him, be clear with him and tell him that biting is never okay. Be matter of fact and don’t give your biter any extra attention. But with the victim be solicitous and ensure that if the skin is broken that you take care of the problem. Often biters get so much attention that they continue doing it as a way to stay in the spotlight.
Make it boring.
What about if he bites you? Just like with other children, the first bite may well be an accident. But, wow your reaction is so interesting he can hardly wait to try it again.
Don’t be cute when he bites. Don’t say in a pleading tone: “ Now sweetie that’s not nice, I know you don’t want to hurt Mommy. Now say your sorry.” That makes it sound like a game. Instead be serious and clear. In a firm and loud voice say, “Ow! That hurts! No biting!”
A lecture isn’t called for. He needs to know that biting is never acceptable and you will not allow it. Once you have told him that he is not to bite, turn away from him for a few minutes so he learns that when he bites, you will not give him attention. Quite the opposite, you will not want to be with him when he hurts you.
Don’t get involved in play biting. Kids can’t tell the difference between the play nibbling and the real thing. They learn how to behave by watching and imitating adults. Which leads to the question of biting them back “so they know how it feels”.
That not only doesn’t work, it backfires. They see you bite and learn that biting is okay so they continue.
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