Child care providers often wonder how to deal with children who bite one another. At Care Courses, we understand that biting can be a challenging subject in all different child care settings. We offer Biting Hurts, a training course that covers the reasons why young children bite, strategies to prevent biting, appropriate ways to intervene in biting incidents, and how to talk to parents about biting.
In this blog we will focus on how caregivers and teachers can respond to biting when it occurs.
When a child is bitten:
- Give attention and comfort first to the child who has been bitten. Model empathy for the victim and avoid rewarding the biter with immediate adult attention. Biters ages two and older can assist in comforting the victim.
- Never indicate – by words, body, language, or other actions – that you think the biting is funny or a game.
- Calmly remove the biter. Emotional responses reinforce biting behavior.
- Never bite a child back (or have another child do so) either as a punishment or to show how it feels.
- State simply, firmly, and calmly, “No! Biting hurts,” and avoid lectures.
- Never emotionally abandon the biter by withholding love or comfort. Causing a child to feel rejected or scorned does nothing to teach appropriate behavior. Express disapproval of biting, not the child.
- Never respond to the biter with physical or verbal aggression. Model respectful, appropriate language and behavior at all times. Never behave toward children in ways that are not appropriate for them to imitate.
- Help children learn expressive communications skills. Model appropriate ways to interact with others, negotiate disagreements, and resolve conflict.
- Use specific positive language to teach children what they should do: “Touch gently. It hurts when you bite.” Rather than “Don’t bite.”
- Assure biters that you have confidence they will learn appropriate behaviors!
Finally, make sure you notify the parents of both the biter and the victim and tell them what you are doing to stay on top of it.
By following these steps you can help alleviate or shorten the biting “crisis.” However, sometimes nothing works and children either grow out of it or must leave the program. Suspension or termination from the program (while an awful consequence) is possible, so suggest parents make contingency plans if necessary.
Our Care Course, Biting Hurts, covers the reasons and methods for helping children who bite. We touched on some helpful methods for responding to biting in this blog. Want to learn more? Find this course on our website!
Please let us know how we can be of additional assistance! Call us: 1-800-685-7610, Monday through Friday, 9-5 ET, or email us days, evenings and weekends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!