Why Children Bite, And How To Stop Them
Many parents wonder why children bite. Biting is a common habit that can occur for different reasons in children aged between 1 and 3.
Babies and toddlers use their mouth to explore, learn and relate to the world around them. The mouth is one of the first parts of the body to develop full sensitivity.
What’s more, when teething, babies need to soothe their gums. Without the self-control of adults, babies may bite and chew just about anything.
At the same time, children aged 1 to 3 also use this behavior as they begin to socialize. But why do children bite people? Normally, this is a way to get attention, or to get hold of a toy.
They may also bite when they are nervous or frustrated, for example, in the event of a radical change in their life. This habit will normally go away when children begin nursery or daycare, and begin to develop communication skills.
Of course, there may be more serious reasons for biting, too, such as underlying emotional problems. This means we should pay close attention to the child in order to determine the reason for their behavior.
Below, we’ll talk about some of the main reasons why children bite.
5 reasons why children bite
According to studies by the American National Association for the Education of Young Children, there are 5 main reasons why young children bite.
Babies and toddlers use all their senses to learn about the world around them. This means they may bite the hand of another child. If this happens, it should be enough to simply tell your child not to do it again.
One reason why children bite is to get the attention of adults and their peers. In this case, it is very important to explain that this is wrong and hurts others.
Tell them, firmly, not to do it again. Teach your children that they should express themselves using words, and without harming others.
If your child is beginning to get to know other children in unfamiliar surroundings, they may try to bite others.
Often, the child will see biting as a form of self defence against other kids. In this case, reassure them that they are safe and that nobody is trying to hurt then.
Children have a strong need for autonomy and control. When they notice the effect of biting on those around them, they may begin to feel stronger and more powerful.
To correct this attitude, we should make sure to teach good behavior, such as sharing toys, saying thank you and being kind to others. Teach your child that they can get respect from their peers without resorting to violence.
Another reason why children bite is the presence of an underlying emotional problem or a major change in the child’s life. This may occur, for example, when a new baby brother or sister arrives.
Other common reasons include moving homes and starting to meet other children at nursery or daycare. Biting is a way for the child to get attention and to express their feelings about the situation.
What to do about this behavior
Telling a child not to do something doesn’t mean they will understand what is right and wrong. As they grow up, children copy patterns of behavior from those around them.
For this reason, it is important for parents to provide a good example. Show them that there are other ways to relate to others.
Use language to solve problems, take turns, ask to borrow toys, give hugs, be kind and respect others – all of these actions and attitudes can be learned by example.
When your child behaves well, praise them so they understand that what they are doing is good. For example, make sure to congratulate your child when they play peacefully with a friend.
Children should learn never to respond to violence with more violence. Just because someone else bites you, that doesn’t mean that you should bite back.
How to stop children from biting
The first thing to do is observe your child and find out why they are biting. This is a behavior that may not go away overnight, so patience and understanding are key to long-term results.
What can we do to stop children from biting?
- Think about when and why your child bites.
- Don’t let your child out of your sight when they are around other kids. Your presence will reassure them.
- If they do bite someone, stay calm. Explain to your child that what they did was wrong. Tell them never to bite other children. Food is the only thing that should go in their mouth!
- Ask other parents to share the strategies they use with their children. They may be able to help.
- Don’t shout at your child, or punish them. Try to understand them.
Remember that, as children learn and grow, they may pick up certain habits that we must help them to correct. The most important thing is to understand the reasons for their behavior.
Support your children at all times. If you are still feeling lost, why not ask other parents for tips? They may have their own methods that would not have occurred to you.
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
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- Tremblay, R. E. (2003). Los orígenes de la violencia de los jóvenes. http://e-spacio.uned.es/fez/view/bibliuned:AccionPsicologica2003-numero1-0006
- Peñafiel-Balmaseda, J. (2013). Mordedores en pañales. Análisis de las causas y propuesta educativa (Bachelor’s thesis). https://reunir.unir.net/handle/123456789/1621