My child bites — is it normal? What should I do?
Biting is a common misbehavior among children under 3 years. Biting is a problem, if it’s often repeated, continues after 3 years, or is accompanied with aggressive behavior.
If the teeth are coming through the gums, the child can bite relatives in response to this unpleasant feeling in the mouth. Kids can also bite to cope with the strong feelings — for example, helplessness, fear, anger — when they lack language skills to express their emotions with the help of words.
Usually a firm «no» discourages child’s desire to bite. If a child bites often, it’s a good idea to visit a dentist.
Why do children bite? Reasons for biting.
Children bite for a variety of reasons depending on their age.
At the age of 5−7 months, children tend to bite others when they feel discomfort around the mouth, or when they have severe pain caused by teething. Most often, children bite their parents and relatives. Children at this age lose the habit of biting, when they see, hear and understand negative reaction of the person they bite.
At the age of 8−14 months, children tend to bite others when they are very excited. They often bite relatives or other children. A firm «no» will usually stop the habit of biting in such children.
At the age of 15−36 months, children can bite others because of irritation or desire to control the actions of other people. Usually they bite other children. Less often, they bite relatives. Children at this age lose the habit of biting as soon as they understand that such behavior is unacceptable.
At the age of 3 years, children usually bite when they feel helpless or scared, when they lose in a fight, or when they think that they may be hurt. If your child is 3 years old and he / she regularly bites, it is necessary to consult a doctor. The child may have problems with self-expression or self-control.
Biting is a sign of aggressive behavior, as well as fighting, throwing things, and pushing. If the child bites only during games and stops after your reproof, you should not worry. However, if the child bites somebody every day, you need to pay attention to some possible psychological reasons. Toddlers are not always able to express all their feelings through words, and therefore express them through biting. Most experts think, biting is normal, as this is the way of expressing negative feelings. If the child does it often, it means that he has too many negative emotions, and something needs to be done.
Psychological reasons for biting.
- Lack of love and attention.
Learn to understand the needs of your child. Instead of focusing on biting, first try to find the cause of it. The child doesn’t bite without any reason. It’s not that your child wants to get toys, candy or attention, it’s the internal motivation to bite that really matters. In a situation of biting try to guess, what your child feels: is he jealous or angry or, perhaps, he needs help, love, care or independence. Give your child, what he needs, and he will not bite. Often children need attention, participation, love, and understanding. All these things will make the toddler happier and more confident.
Sometimes there are very unexpected reasons for biting. One of those reasons is an allergic reaction. Did you know about it?
- Allergic reaction to products.
It’s surprising, but the child may become more aggressive after eating wheat, dairy, soy, sugar, some food additives and other allergens. If your child often bites or becomes aggressive, it is recommended to take a test for allergies.
- Physical violence in the family.
Sometimes the child bites because in his family physical forms of violence are a usual thing. The child just imitates what he sees. The best advice here is to take care of yourself and your child. Don’t push and hit him, don’t beat him, don’t do anything based on your physical superiority. Be a good example for your child and he will treat others with care and attention.
- Too many don’ts.
The child may bite because he feels too limited. If you always ask your child to be quieter, to meet your expectations, to be politer etc., it may lead to anger and helplessness. Biting in such a situation is a way of expressing the child’s anger.
Before saying don’t to your child, think if this action really should be banned, and if Yes, then say don’t politely and in private. If possible, don’t forbid your child to do things, which are allowed to other children on the playground. For example, if two children are playing on the playground and one of them begins to tumble, it is not necessary to prohibit your child to do the same. Yes, you will have to wash the clothes, but your child won’t have the idea, that he is worse than others — because this is the way children think. It is always better first to think and then to forbid, because sometimes our prohibitions may be too contrived and devoid of logic.
The reasons for biting are clear, now let’s talk about what to do if your child bites, how to react to biting.
How to prevent the situation when a child bites?
Many parents, who love their children, often confuse their softness and lack of leadership with love and respect. You can prevent biting if you take the initiative in the relationship with your child and treat the child with respect. The initiative means showing the child what is right and what is wrong. Don’t be afraid to contradict your child if it is reasonable. Respect your child. You should not act «physically», convincing your baby, just talk to him and explain. The child will stop biting, when he learns from your example to express thoughts by words, not «physically».
The next thing is to avoid stress and make your child’s life calmer. Too much excitement, traveling and various excessive activities violate the natural sense of belonging in children. During the first years of life, the child builds internal communications with parents. Spend more time with your baby, go to familiar places, listen to soothing music and concentrate on pleasant quiet activities.
Step-by-step instruction: what to do when a child bites
If your child bites, you must do the following:
- You mustn’t bite other people.
- Stop biting .
- You’ve hurt me.
- It is painful for me.
Speak confidently and calmly. While talking to the child, see him eye to eye, don’t look down on him.
Tell your child:
If you do not like something or you’re angry, don’t bite, it’s better to say: I am angry, I don’t like it, don’t want it, I won’t do this.
Practise saying this phrase with your child, let him know that anger can be expressed with words.
Follow these 5 rules and your child will stop biting:
- Show him an example of kindness and composure. Be kind to others.
- Never solve family problems in the presence of your child. This can generate aggression in the child.
- Get creative with your child: drawing, modeling, construction… Listen to soothing music during the games.
- Stick to the schedule for the day. Let the child get used to some daily routine. He will stop worrying about what’s next?
- There should be place and time for baby’s active games.