By Ms. Kath
Biting is a common behaviour that we often see with infants. It’s not the most pleasant of behaviours to experience but it’s important to understand why it happens and explore strategies to eliminate it. Toddlers express themselves in many ways when they’re excited, angry, over stimulated, or just overtired. Sometimes they’re overly excited and giggly and other times, they may be frustrated and will cry, shout or fuss.
Biting is also one way a child expresses themselves, especially if they’re frustrated or feeling like they’re not understood or their needs are not met. We can empathise with that as adults because we may become frustrated and respond defensively when we don’t feel our feelings or opinions are taken into account. A toddler may feel similar emotions if they lack the cognitive ability to use speech to express their emotions or if they are feeling upset or frustrated. Children may also resort to biting because they are teething or overstimulated.
Nevertheless, the key to addressing this behaviour is to be clear and consistent. Older children will most likely understand an adult’s explanation of why we don’t bite or hurt others. However, toddlers might benefit from short phrases such as ‘no biting’ or ‘biting hurts’. A child having ‘time out’ for a couple of minutes where they sit in a seat away from everyone, is a great reflecting tool for young children, and they will often understand the consequence of their negative behaviour if caregivers are consistent. It is important that the biting is addressed immediately once it happens and that you make eye contact with the child, whilst you explain what they have done wrong. Every child should acquire the confidence to communicate freely and easily with both adults and peers. EtonHouse preschool has been established to provide a happy, relaxed and safe environment that contributes to the development of the whole person.
How do you prevent biting? It is important that caregivers whether it is teachers of kindergarten who look after the child or else parents itself should understand what situation triggered the child to bite and whether this has happened before. It is also essential to examine what the child was doing before the incident and where the child was. At times, a pattern can be identified, which might help prevent the biting incident or manage the situation better. A great way to help children understand their actions or how to manage their emotions, is by suggesting to the child different ways they could have handled the situation.
What should you do when a child bites?
- Although it can be frustrating to deal with a biting incident, it is very important that you remain calm.
- In a firm and low tone of voice say ‘no biting’ or ‘biting hurts’. It might also be helpful to comment on the feelings of the child that was hurt.
- It is then important to shift your attention to the child that was bitten and to encourage the child to apologise for biting. Strategies to prevent biting
- If you see signs that your child will bite, you can try distracting them with a toy or activity to reduce the tension and shift your child’s attention.
- Teach your child to express his feelings in appropriate ways and to express their anger through words, books and art.
- Support your child to cope when feeling overwhelmed by lights, sound or activity.
- Explain the effects of their actions and how others feel in the process.
- Support healthy teething by offering a teether.
There is no quick fix to stop a child biting and children take time and their parents guidance to adapt their behaviour, therefore patience and consistency is important.
Teacher: Ms. Kath