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Help My Child´s a Biter!

The act of biting in children is common. Most youngsters will bite or attempt to bite another or at least once as they move through the toddler to pre school years. In most cases the child quickly learns how unacceptable such behaviour is, usually from the horrified response they receive from those around them, but the problem can linger in some children.

Understanding why your child bites can help you deal with the problem as children bite others or themselves for a variety of reasons.

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Babies naturally use their mouths to explore their world and leaving this behind can take longer for some children. Such a child may need access to teething or biting toys for longer than may seem necessary to channel this biting action into a more socially acceptable route.


A child who feels threatened by another or by an event may bite in what they see as self defence. Children who feel threatened by new situations need a warm, safe bond with care giver when they find themselves in threatening situations. If the care giver pre warns the child of routine changes, new children arriving or new situations, their fear can be relieved.

Language immaturity:

There is a strong link between not feeling heard and not being able to communicate well verbally with biting. This is especially the cause when a child finds themselves in situations when a second language is being used. Once a child has mastered basic language skills (usually by the age of 3) their need to display their feelings physically decreases and they are able to express themselves verbally to achieve the same result.


Children who crave power and authority over others may bite to display this. This attention seeking action could be challenged by allowing the child greater choices in their day or giving them small tasks of responsibility to feed their need for autonomy.

Cause and effect:

Some children bite to test the reaction they will receive. Our reaction must always be consistent, calm and unwavering to dispel their curiosity more quickly.

Effectively coping with an incident of biting:

Attend to the child who has been bitten first to reassure them of their safety and deny the biter the first moment of attention. Then deal with the biter straight after this. Children need instant discipline or your words will nit have the same effect once the moment has passed.

Stay calm and always consistent:

Explain in simple language how wrong this is, how painful this is and how we must treat others the way we wish to be treated ourselves.

Remove the child from activity for a time out period ( 1 minuet for a 1 year old, 2 minuets for a 2 year old ect) Search for in the conditions in which the biting happened and in the biter´s response for reasons listed above. Look for patterns if the biting is regular to help you cope with the problem long term. Reinforce good behaviour and tell the child you are proud of them if they refrain from biting later in the day.

Remember that research suggests biting is a temporary phase that children pass through that invariably passes as children reach school age, in the vast majority of cases.

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