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No Biting! 5 Fixes for Toddler Biting

No Biting! 5 Fixes for Toddler Biting

Yikes! When your sweet-faced toddler starts chomping on your arm (or her brother’s) it’s natural to feel alarmed. After all, while biting is a normal developmental phase, it’s not exactly desirable behavior. Here are 5 helpful strategies for putting an end to toddler biting.

1. Identify the Reason for Biting

Since toddlers bite for several distinct reasons (including curiosity, frustration, teething, and to get attention), identifying the cause can help you tailor a more effective response. As Kate C. advised: “Look at WHY he’s biting. Is he frustrated and can't communicate (most common reason kids bite)? Is he exploring sensations and trying to see what it feels like to bite? Is he teething?”

2. Give Consistent Verbal Cues and Consequences

Many Circle of Moms members recommend immediately responding to biting behavior with a consistent verbal response, and then giving consequences. As Lauri Ann P. advises: “Say loudly ‘no biting’ and remove her from the situation. Send her to a time out chair or to a step. You need to be very consistent and very firm. She needs to know Mommy is upset with her.”

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3. Model Alternatives

When children bite out of frustration, many Circle of Moms members advise teaching alternate behaviors. Maggie E. explains: “Biting is often a reaction to emotion that the child cannot fully understand and cannot channel in a positive manner...at 18 months, the child is trying to communicate in the only way she thinks she can. Tell her ‘I can see you are really ___ (angry, frustrated, upset, etc.) but it’s not okay to bite your friends. If you need to bite something, you can bite this (and give the child a rubbery toy or teether or necklace.)” Carrie G. also recommends teaching simple verbal communication for frustrating situations: “Model language they can use: ‘NO! Stop! Mine! etc.’ Other phrases that should be modeled: ‘Can I play? Can I use it?’”

4. Address Teething Pain

Often biting behavior is simply a result of teething pain. “A lot of times the child does not realize it hurts the other person because it feels good, particularly if they are teething,” explains Jenn S. “Having cool teething rings… can help the child eliminate discomfort and frustration.” (For more teething tips, see 7 Ways to Soothe a Teething Baby.)

5. Use Attention as a Reward

Many moms suggest using your toddler’s desire for attention to motivate positive behavior. “As hard as it is, try not to draw too much attention to the biting,” recommended Morgan Y. “Sometimes when kids get a reaction, they continue to do it for the attention.” Justine S. agrees: “Focus all attention on the injured child, lots of fuss and love, before dealing with the aggressor so they learn that this is not an effective way to get mum’s attention!” Additionally, mother-of-two Pamela B. emphasizes rewarding positive behavior: “Reward him when he uses words or gentle hands to solve his problems. He will want the praise and start to associate it with the behavior.”

Image Source: calliope via Flickr/Creative Commons

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