Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Teeth Are Not For Biting

I was recently at a picnic where a 2 year old little boy bit another little girl his age. Apparently the little boy was playing in a jeep and when the little girl got in he got mad and bit her numerous times both on her face and her arms. Now I saw these marks and I could not believe they came from a two year old. A few of the bites broke the skin and her face was swollen because of being bit. Do you have a toddler that bites? Has your child been on the receiving end of another child’s biting?

Munchie was never a “biter”. He was (and still is) a pretty laid back child. Now don’t get me wrong, he has had his share of floor pounding temper tantrums when we are out and he does not get his own way but he has never been a child that has been aggressive towards another child.

I have found a few tips for parents dealing with a biting toddler:

Confront your child as soon as you see them bite. Step in and express your disapproval. You should tell him/her that “Biting hurts and it is not ok to bite people”. Quickly remove your child from the situation and reinforce that biting is not ok.

After that you will want to comfort the other child in front of your child and have your child apologize or hug him/her. Showing your little one that biting cause’s pain will help them understand why biting is bad. It is also a good idea to have your child look at the other child while you say something along the lines of “Do you see him/her crying, biting hurts”.

Teaching your child another way to express how they feel is probably the best way to prevent biting. Teach them to come to you if they want a toy or to ask the other child to share.

I have heard a lot of people say “If they bite, bite them back”; from what I have read this is not the best way to discipline. This merely teaches the child that biting is ok for you to do but not ok for them. Try a time out, usually for a minute for each year of their age (a two minute time out for a two year old).

Which ever method you choose to do to help curb the biting it is extremely important to be consistent. Remember to stay calm through everything; you do not want your child to associate biting with getting attention. Some children will take which ever type of attention they can get, positive or negative.

We have the book "Teeth Are Not For Biting" by Elizabeth Verdick. It is a great board book that teaches children alternatives to biting.

Whether your child is the biter or the one being bitten please put yourself in the other parents shoes. Nobody wants their child to be labeled a "biter" so try to refrain from yelling and screaming at them in front of your children. If your child is the one doing the biting remember to be empathetic towards the other child and even the parents. Always remember to apologize for the incident.

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