by Christiana Berry | September 21, 2016
Imagine taking your child on a play date and suddenly your child turns into a pint-size vampire and chomps on a playmate. Horrified, you rush to discipline your child, but what’s the best way to handle the situation? Now, you may be surprised that you’re perfect angel magically turned into a little vampire, but biting is a normal part of childhood development and there are several ways to help prevent it.
There are many reasons why a child bites:
-They are in pain: they may have teeth coming in and need a toy or a teething ring to bite on. You can use teething gel or tablets to help or if you want something more natural try using frozen fruit.
-They are looking for a reaction: they figure out “when I bite; my friend cries so I’ll do it again for the reaction.”
-They are frustrated: they cannot verbally tell us when they are upset or hurt, so they will bite to get our attention.
-If your child is older and still biting it could mean that it’s a sensory; in which case there are many therapies that can help. It may also mean that your child is mentally above where their friends are at and need more activities to keep them engaged.
How to prevent biting:
-Keep plenty of teething rings or toys to chew on at hand.
-You know your child best! Keep a close eye while your child is at play so that when they start to show signs of irritability you can get them engaged in something else.
-Encourage the use of words. Use phrases such as “I’m upset” or “That’s my toy” maybe have a special toy or blanket that they can play with only when they get frustrated.
-As the old wives tale goes “if your child bites you, bite your child back”. This is actually bad advice. Children learn by what their parents model for them. Modeling the behaviors you want from your child will go a long way. Stay consistent even when things get rough. You’ve got this!
-Give them lots of attention! Give lots of hugs and play with your child. You can teach them how to interact with friends through example. Then when the negative behavior shows up you can encourage them through it by redirecting, and showing them a better way to express their feelings.
Using your best prevention efforts might not get you very far at first and that’s okay. Teaching new behaviors is a very hard task to accomplish. I encourage you to stay firm and explain why “we don’t bite.” Consistency is the key.