Recently, my friend Alison (Writing, Wishing) asked how to stop a child from biting on her Facebook page. I know this is a problem a lot of moms face so I decided to cover it here.
While my kids were never the biters, they were often the one getting bitten. As frustrating as that was, every single time I would think, “Thank God mine isn’t the one biting.” As moms, nothing makes us cringe like the thought of our child hurting someone else. Especially when it is a hard behavior to stop.
Toddlers are emotional beings, which can be fun when they get a case of the giggles, but not so much fun with they get a case of the mads or the frustrateds or the unsures. All of that emotion has to come out in some ways, and for some kids that means biting. Here are some tips to stop a child from biting.
1. Bite back. While I would never recommend starting with this step, let’s get it out of the way. It isn’t something anyone ever wants to do, and is normally something that is whispered from mother to mother because it seems so wrong. And while I agree that it is wrong, it can also be effective. For some children, once they realize they are hurting someone, they will stop.
2. Short, firm commands. Toddlers are not really on the logic train yet. Giving them long, drawn out instructions and explaining why he shouldn’t do something is never going to work. When she bites, move her away from the victim and quickly and firmly say, “Ouch. That hurts. No biting.” Then shower the victim with hugs and kisses. Give as little attention as possible to the offender.
3. Time out. Sometimes biting can be a bid for attention or a sign that the child needs some cooling off time. Experts recommend a minute per year of age. Place the child away from distractions and have them wait the designated time. Losing out on play time is never fun, and with consistency, this could be enough to stop the behavior.
4. Read books. During story time or before bed, read a book that teaches empathy such as Teeth Are Not For Biting or No Biting (affiliate links). Strange as it may seem, we are not born with empathy. This is something that children have to be taught. If you’ve ever been around a toddler then you know that they are very “me” centric. Again, consistency is the key.
5. Give them something to bite. As I mentioned before, toddlers will usually bite out of anger or frustration. They have all of these emotions bubbling inside of them and they need an outlet. Provide one. Clip a chew toy or pacifier to his shirt. Give her a rag or pillow to bite. Eventually, they will grow into their emotions and will be able to handle them better.
6. Make it distasteful. And no, I don’t mean anything as abhorrent as putting pepper sauce in your child’s mouth. BUT a little something that they don’t like might work. One mom at the daycare where my daughter went would put a little bit of vinegar on her daughter’s tongue when she would bite. It didn’t take her long to realize that biting led to something yucky.
I know, as a mom, this can be a hard and frustrating time. It would be so much easier if kids were born knowing how to share and be nice, but that isn’t the case (darn it). Remember that you are not alone and that he WILL grow out of this.
Hope this helps,
Have you got a question, problem, or situation where you’d like a little guidance or an independent opinion? Leave me a comment or send me an email. All questions will be kept anonymous unless you specify otherwise. Don’t want me to know that it’s YOU asking the question. Set up a generic email address with Yahoo or Gmail and ask away. for me?
Disclaimer: Advise This is a real life advice column that I started at the encouragement of a few friends. Read more to find out what it is all about. I am not a licensed therapist or professional advice giver. All thoughts and opinions are my own and should only be considered anecdotal. Any physical or mental harm that comes from taking my advice is on you.