For the last week I have arrived each day at nursery with the dreaded fear – what has my little monkey done today? Now don’t get me wrong the little lady is so polite and well behaved about 80% of the time but recently we have noticed more and more that she is becoming more “playful” with her nursery buddies. Biting, scratching, pushing and even sitting on her friends are regular occurrences now. Like most overly anxious first time parents I at first panicked, I googled everything under the sun I could find on toddler behaviour but as time has passed i have started to realise that at 18 months she really doesn’t know any better and isn’t trying to be “bold” on purpose!
So why do toddlers bite?
Trying your best to understand what causes a toddler to bite will help you develop an effective response. Please rest assure biting is a very common behaviour. The good news is that there is a lot that as parents we can do to reduce and prevent biting.
Reasons for potentially biting:-
- To communicate a need for personal space
- To satisfy a need for stimulation
- To communicate or express feelings like anger, frustration
- Are experimenting to see what will happen
- Need more active playtime
- Are over-tired
- Are teething
- Looking for attention
Can I Prevent Biting?
As you start to watch your child at play and round other children you will pick up cues on when they are going to bite, for example my little lady will look at you and grab hold of the child before she goes in for a nice nibble! By watching the child you can begin to anticipate when a bite might occur. The following questions can guide you identifying the kinds of situations often lead to biting and try and prevent them by distracting your child and shifting their attention for example play with a new toy, tell them a story or sing a song.
If your child bites explain in a firm but not angry voice “No biting. Biting hurts.” Comment on how the other child is feeling and reinforce that biting hurts. Your toddler may bite again, so continue watching playtime closely and ask family members or childminders to reinforce what you are doing with the same messages so the toddler is getting a clear message,
Shaming or harsh punishments at a young age do not reduce biting, they can actually increase biting incidents. Biting your child back ( an old favourite from back in the day!!) is not a useful response. There is no research to show this behaviour reduces biting. However, it does teach your child that it’s okay to bite people when you are upset!
*** Please note these are just my views and opinions based on my own personal experience. If in doubt contact your Health Visitor for more advice or guidance.