The last thing a parent wants to hear when they pick up their child from childcare is that they have bit one of their friends. It is hard to imagine that your sweet little one has bit another child and left a mark. Often parents say that they can’t believe this because they don’t do it at home or in other playgroups. In this article, we’ll provide you with some reasons why children bite and a few tips for curbing the behavior.

  1. Pre-verbal Stage: A toddler bites as a way to communicate with his/her peers; out of frustration and anger the first thing they think to do is bite.
  2. Space: Toddlers need space. They don’t like when other friends are to close and as a way to let them know they often bite for this reason.
  3. Toys: Fighting over toys is common in childcare centers, and in the toddler and two year old rooms these arguments can escalate to a biting situation.
  4. Changes at home: Examples of changes can be anything from moving houses, adjusting to a new brother or sister, or a divorce.

While there are many reasons why children bite, there are many things that parents and child caregivers can do to help redirect them and teach them that biting is not okay. Parents should schedule a time to talk to their child’s caregiver and learn more about what triggers their child to bite. Learning why their child bites helps parents redirect them at home and teach their child that biting hurts and it is not okay. Here are some tips parents can use at home:

  1. Explain to your child that biting is not okay and is not acceptable. If your child is still very young, do your best to convey the message although realize the concept may be hard for them to grasp.
  2. Tell your child that you understand that they are upset and that it is okay to be upset or mad but it is not okay to bite another friend.
  3. Use something to redirect your child from biting for example a washcloth or a teething ring.
  4. Give your child lots of praise and positive attention.
  5. Read books about biting with your child about biting and how it hurts. An example is Our Teeth Are Not for Biting.

As frustrating as it may be for a parent to learn that their child is biting, they must remember to stay calm and use the tips listed above. Remember biting is just a phase; it will pass and it usually takes about two weeks to stop as long as everyone involved — parents, and child caregivers — are dedicated to work together to stop biting as fast as it starts.