Why toddlers bite, and how to stop your child's teeth from causing trouble at home and at nursery!
It's common in toddlers at nursery, starting from around the age of 1, but non-nursery-goers can be biters too. As far as places go, it can happen at home or out and about.
"Biting is normally a demonstration of a strong emotion - usually frustration, insecurity or jealousy," says Camilla McGill co-founder of The Parent Practice.
"But a lot of parents don't realise a toddler might lash out in situations where he feels overwhelmed and uncertain too - in both new and familiar settings - as it helps him to feel in control.
If she's at nursery other toddler chums are usually the main target, but she might also go for family members and friends.
Thankfully, there are lots of ways to stop them biting, so if one doesn't work for you, keep trying until you find the solution.
"Find her an alternative to get her teeth into," says Camilla. "A hanky she keeps in her pocket is a good option. You'll need to practise this with her at home to get her to remember to do it and she might need prompting at first. Get the nursery on board, too. Staff can remind her to use her hanky before a play situation happens where she might bite."
"Offer a variety of activities that involve her senses. Anything physical - sand, water, soft dough and outdoor games - is a great idea as your child gets the chance to explore while really enjoying herself at the same time. The idea is to reduce frustration and the chance that she might bite," says Camilla.
"Biting can happen if your child feels overwhelmed, so it's important to limit her choice - offering her no more than two things at once to choose from is enough," says Camilla.
Toddlers sometimes bite if they feel things are too much for them, so it's a good idea to look out for indicators of this. "If you spot any signs, give her space in a separate room for a few minutes," says Camilla. And the same rule applies if she's already bitten. Look for nurseries that have well-organised spaces with toys that children can get to easily as this also reduces frustration.
"Toddlers find it hard to grasp the concept of sharing before the age of three, so in the meantime it might be a good idea to provide more than one of the same toy as this will limit the chance of frustration and subsequent biting," says Camilla.
Toddlers are programmed to get attention in any way, positive or negative, so biting seems like a reasonable way to get it.
A little 'well done' goes a long way. "If you or the nursery can catch her at a time when she normally bites but she doesn't, give her lots of praise and don't forget that her biting is never driven by a calculated desire to hurt someone else," says Camilla.
If your child's a biter, don't feel embarrassed - talk openly about your toddler's problem as you'll be given a lot more respect than if you try to hide or deny it. If you show people that you're taking steps to fix it, no reasonable person will judge you.
A good and experienced nursery will realise that some challenging behaviour, such as toddler tantrums, is completely normal as it's part of a toddler's social development. But biting isn't socially acceptable, so if you have a toddler who won't stop biting, you may be called in to talk about why she's doing it so you can both work out how to help her stop. This is normally enough to get to the root of the problem but in very extreme cases you might be asked to take her out of nursery for a few days.
What should you do if your child's the victim of biting?
Does your child have any other unsociable habits? Find out how to put a stop to them...
Oh I tried all of those when we were at the height of biting season!!!!! Thankfully it has just stopped,altho I was bitten last night,but Jc is teething.
He probably realises I'd excuse him,maybe he just wanted to take a chunk out of me?!!!! Ratbag!!!
Lola bites alot! When she gets excited or angry, so pretty much all the time! lol!
At the moment we move her away and say NO that hurts, its not nice. Now shes stopped rushing back to do it, so we are getting there!
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