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Biting: Ways to Stop it

January 08, 2018

Biting: Ways to Stop it

Growing teeth often find their way into trouble. Toddlers often bite with little regard for the consequences of their actions. Bites hurt and should be corrected, before serious harm is done to bodies and to relationships.

Aggressive biting is most common between the ages of 18-months and 2½ years when the child doesn’t have the verbal language to communicate his needs. Instead, he communicates through actions. Biting usually stops as the child’s verbal skills develops.

Parent’s role:

  1. Understand why toddlers bite: What are simply socially- incorrect gestures in infants can, if unchecked, become aggressive behaviors in children. That’s why you want to purge these from baby’s repertoire before they become part of the growing child. Children become aggressive in order to release pent-up anger, to control a situation, to show power, or to protect their turf in a toy squabble. Some children even resort to obnoxious behavior in a desperate attempt to break through to distant parents.Most aggressive toddler behaviors will lessen once the child is old enough to communicate by words instead of actions.

 

    1. Don’t bite back. “But the child needs to learn that biting hurts,” you may reason. Yes, but there’s no way your child will decide that she shouldn’t bite if you bite. Try this alternative tooth-for-tooth method: Take your child aside and ask her to let you show her how teeth feel on skin. Press your child’s forearm against her upper teeth as if she were biting herself, not in an angry revengeful way, but as a parent making a point, “See, biting hurts!” Give this lesson immediately after he bites you or someone else. You want your child to learn to be sensitive to how others feel – an early lesson in empathy.

 

    1. Mellow a mean streak. Watch the toddler who habitually bangs toys, bashes dolls, kicks cats, and pounds on walls. While some of this acting out is normal, it can be a red flag for tension and anger. The child is at risk for treating humans this way. Besides delving into the roots of the problem, encourage more gentle play: “Hug the bear,” “Pet the kitty,” “Love the doll.”

 

  1. Supervise. It’s neither fair nor safe to allow aggressive toddlers to play with potential victims in close quarters without a teacher on watch. If the child is aggressive, share your concern with the parents or other teachers in the playgroup, and seek their help in tempering the child’s aggressive behavior. Don’t hesitate to tell them about the problem. You can bet they have also struggled through an aggressive stage with their own children. Your candidness shows your concern for the other children. Otherwise, aggression, especially biting, may destroy relationship with parents, with staff. The parents of a biter are embarrassed, while the parents of the bitee are angry that their child has been hurt. The biter’s parents get blamed for the child’s misbehavior (“bad parents of a bad kid”).

Teacher’s role:

    1. Consider the source. What triggers aggressive behaviors? Keep a journal (at least mental notes) identifying the correlation between how a child acts and the circumstances prompting the action. For example: “Kate bit Suzie during play group. Suzie had Kate’s favorite ball. It was almost nap time. Lots of kids in a small place. Suzie is very bossy.”

 

    1. Child bites child. You notice one child bites another to get a toy. Show and tell, an alternative way to get the toy. “We don’t bite other people. If you want the toy, wait until your friend is finished with it or ask Teacher and I’ll set the share timer. When I want something from you I don’t bite you, I ask you nicely.” If the child doesn’t cooperate, ask the victim to say, “I’m not playing with you anymore until you say you’re sorry and stop biting.” Two-year-olds may not be able to say all these words, but they’ll understand them; so you say the words for them and follow through with the consequence. Also, impress upon the biter: “How would you feel if Tommy bit you.”

 

  1. Timeout the aggressor. “Biting hurts, and it’s wrong to hurt. You are going to sit by me.” Usually by two years of age the child can make the connection between being aggressive and the consequences. Encourage your child to say “I’m sorry.” If he’s not angry anymore, he might want to give a kiss or hug.Grabbing is a common aggressive behavior in toddlers and young preschoolers. (Watch that you don’t unintentionally model this by snatching things from little hands) Calmly explain why he can’t have the item he grabbed and ask him to hand it back to the other child or give it to you. You may have to offer a replacement for what he has to give up. If your child is about to damage something valuable, or is likely to hurt himself with an object, use a firm and polite tone and show by your body language you expect him to give it up immediately.

 

    1. Reward. Children over three respond well to rewards, such as a no-biting chart: “Every day you are nice to your friends, put a happy face on the chart. When you have three happy faces we’ll have surprise activity”

 

    1. Program self-control. Some impulsive children bite before they think. For children over three, help them control these impulses by suggesting substitute behaviors that the child clicks into at the first thought of biting: “As soon as you feel like biting, grab a pillow and bite on it or go run around the yard.” You can model impulse control for your child. For example, next time you feel like biting, let your child see you think your way out of it.

 

  1. Supervise. Teachers and day-care providers also need to be vigilant in supervising the aggressive child, lest this attitude infect the whole group. In a group setting children learn what is socially-acceptable behavior. If they see and feel that aggressive behavior is tolerated — especially if the biter is in the spotlight (“Watch out, he’s a biter”) — they pick up on this label and may try making it part of their repertoire. While the aggressor’s behavior requires immediate attention, be careful not to give the other children the idea that this is the way to get attention. Be sure to find opportunities to praise the other children for their good behavior.

 

don’t shame, blame, or punish a child who bites

A child can’t help that his feelings are packed in so tightly that biting occurs. He has tried to cry, and tried to tantrum, but has not yet gotten the support he needs to release feelings of fear or frustration. You can help, whether you’re a parent, a caregiver, a grandparent, or a friend. Every child will move away from biting, as soon as the release of his pent-up feelings allows him to relax and feel safe. Children who bite are good children in need of a good cry, in the arms of a caring adult.

Growing teeth often find their way into trouble. Toddlers often bite with little regard for the consequences of their actions. Bites hurt and should be corrected, before serious harm is done to bodies and to relationships.

Aggressive biting is most common between the ages of 18-months and 2½ years when the child doesn’t have the verbal language to communicate his needs. Instead, he communicates through actions. Biting usually stops as the child’s verbal skills develops.

DO’s for the centre:

Teacher should have an eye on every child during all the sessions in the class or in the outdoors.

Look for the situation when the child gets triggered to bite the other child.

Train the attendants/maids to observe and ways to prevent this kind of behavior in the child.

Send a note to the parents on a monthly basis, to inform the centre and teachers if their child is going through the teething phase

Refer to the attached mailer for the understanding on the reasons for child biting and how to manage it effectively.

Dear Parents,

Greetings from the kidzee family!!!

With respect to “What is right for your child” we urge you to go through the article thoughtfully.

If you come across any situation where you observe that your child is going through the teething phase, kindly inform the centre immediately.

This will enable to prevent your child from biting the other children, which may also lead to your child being hurt.

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