Between their first and third birthdays, most toddlers engage in some form of biting. Typically, this behavior develops because it is one of the few means of communication available to a toddler. Another reason that toddlers bite is that they feel frustrated because their motor and communication skills are so limited at this time. Not all children are biters, however. Some grab, shove, pinch or punch. That can be just as bad!
It can seem funny for a young toddler to see his mommy suddenly bolt upright or for one of her playmates to begin crying. Another possible cause of biting behavior is related to teething; if they can put a teething ring in their mouth, why not someone’s ear? Sometimes the problem is something as simple as hunger.
What are the ways in which your child can learn that biting is wrong? It has to be completely understood that biting is bad behaviour and can hurt others. Help them to understand that other kids feel pain when your little one bites them. Be sure to let your toddler know that biting is not allowed, that it’s wrong, and that it makes you unhappy.
If you think that your little one is biting out of frustration, help your toddler find another way to communicate that they’re having a hard time. Although it seems a gargantuan effort for your toddler to communicate with words, this is a great time to start teaching them the right words for a situation.
For example, “You need to tell mommy or daddy that you need help and not bite us.” Or “Let mommy know what you need, but no biting. Mommy will get hurt if you bite her, and I know that you don’t want to make mommy sad.” This might induce a sense of shame for their actions, and they may think twice the next time before biting someone.
Parents should not let biting become the center of attention. This is true of all behavior that you do not want to see repeated. Let your toddler know, firmly yet gently, that biting is not permitted, that it’s wrong and that it hurts everyone, grownup or child.