Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Biting in the Toddler Years

Biting is a very common toddler behavior. Understanding why the young child bites is the first step in preventing biting as well as teaching the child alternatives to biting. The most common reasons and solutions for biting are:

The Experimental Biter is exploring their world and may place many items in their mouths (including other’s arms or fingers) to learn more about them. Teach the child that some thing can be bitten, like toys and food, and some things cannot be bitten, like people and animals.

The Teething Biter feels a lot of discomfort and a natural response is to apply pressure to their gums by biting on things. Provide this child with many toys he or she can bite down on.

The Social Biter bites when they are trying to interact with another child. They may not yet have developed the social skills to indicate, “I want to play with you.” Watch young children very closely to assist them in positive interactions with their friends.

The Frustrated Biter lacks the social and emotional skills to cope with their feelings in an acceptable way. Young children are often confronted with situations that are frustrating, like when a friend takes their toy or when daddy is unable to respond to their needs as quickly as they would like. Notice when a child is struggling with frustration and be ready to intervene. Provide words for the child to help him learn how to express his feelings, like “No, don’t push me.”

The Threatened Biter feels a sense of danger and may respond by biting as a self-defense. For some children biting is a way to try to gain a sense of control, especially when they are feeling overwhelmed with their environment. Provide your toddler with nurturing support to help him understand that he and his possessions are safe.

The Imitative Biter is just doing when he or she has learned. It’s not unusual for a child to observe a friend bite, then try it out for herself. Offer the child many examples of loving kind behavior. Never bit e a child to demonstrate how it feels to be bitten.

The Attention-Seeking Biter, like all children, love attention from adults. When parents give lots of attention for negative behavior, such as biting, children learn that biting is a good way to get attention. Provide lots of positive attention every day and minimize the negative attention to behavior such as biting.

The Power Biter is trying to satisfy his strong needs for independent and control. Provide many opportunities for your toddler to make simple choices throughout the day. It is also important to reinforce all the toddler’s attempts at positive social behavior each day.

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