How to stop your toddler from biting

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How to stop your toddler from biting

Biting in toddlers is actually quite common, and quite mortifying for the parents. Your precious little baby one day becomes a toddler and BAM! he's biting other kids at the playground, during playdates or at daycare.

The sad part is that Daycares and Preschools sometimes aren't quite supportive and may sanction your child upon the first bite attempt, instead of working with you on a plan, which is quite unfortunate.

So what can you do to make your toddler stop biting?

Let's break down our plan in a few steps:

1. Identifying Triggers

2. Identifying the function of behavior

3. Teaching your child a replacement behavior

4. Reactive strategies

 how to stop toddler biting

1. Identifying when your toddler bites

The first step is to observe your little one and try to establish some patterns. Does the biting happen mostly in the afternoon, when they are tired? Is it when she's trying to avoid doing something she doesn't like? When she has to share?

2. Understanding why your toddler bites

1) Is your child trying to get your attention? someone else's, etc, 2) is he trying to get something? 3) is she protesting something? or 4.) is she avoiding something?

3. Teaching your child a replacement behavior

Once you've established for the most part when and why your child bites, we can create a plan of action. These are strategies that you can mix and match, take the ones that you think will best address your particular case:

      • Get a chewing necklaceSome kids like the sensory input from biting or bite to release frustration. So whenever your little one is getting close to biting, direct her to bit her necklace instead. You can practice by showing her how you chew the necklace instead of biting to model for her what she should do. The key is that your child practices when he/she is in a good mood. 
      • Read books at bedtime. There are quite a few great options available, all on Amazon and most likely at your local library as well. An easy one is "No Biting!" By Karen Katz.
      • Prep your child before going out. If you are going to the playground, a playdate, or daycare, talk about "no biting". Toddlers have short-term memories so check in with your little one 10-15 minutes and give them a high five (reminding them "no biting"). Give him tons of verbal and physical praise after the playdate if he makes it without biting. 
      • Visuals: add a visual to your fridge or even bring with you as a reminder that we don't to stop toddler biting
      • Increase emotional language. Try to teach your little one how to express themselves verbally, pointing out to your own feelings or others you both see. For example, if a child cries at the playground, point out "that kid is really sad". Or if you are leaving, you can mention "I am feeling tired/hungry/etc.".

4. Reactive Strategies to biting in toddlers

If your child is doing this for attention, it is important to make sure you remain as neutral as possible. Sometimes even negative attention is attention...

An appropriate consequence for a toddler who bites is removing them from the situation as fast as possible and having them sit by herself for 1 minute (as toddlers don't have a real sense of time, one minute can feel like 5 minutes or more).


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