As we dis­cussed in our post on infants and bit­ing, chil­dren bite for var­i­ous rea­sons dur­ing dif­fer­ent peri­ods of devel­op­ment. So, why do tod­dlers bite? For tod­dlers, bit­ing is typ­i­cal­ly an attempt to com­mu­ni­cate desires and feel­ings. Tod­dlers are impul­sive and lack self-con­trol. They expe­ri­ence intense, some­times con­flict­ing emo­tions, often mov­ing quick­ly from one mood to anoth­er. Dur­ing the tod­dler peri­od, chil­dren become more inter­est­ed in inter­act­ing with oth­er chil­dren and feel a strong need for inde­pen­dence and con­trol over their own actions. Tod­dlers seek chal­lenges, but also expe­ri­ence frus­tra­tion. Any of the pre­ced­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics may trig­ger bit­ing behav­ior in toddlers.

Knowl­edge of each child’s indi­vid­ual per­son­al­i­ty and needs is an essen­tial ele­ment of a bit­ing-pre­ven­tion strat­e­gy. A tod­dler may be espe­cial­ly affec­tion­ate and gen­er­ous with hugs and kiss­es for every­one. If these kiss­es involve more teeth than lips, how­ev­er, this child needs guid­ance to learn new and safer ways to express his or her affection.

A child who is shy may have a dif­fi­cult time join­ing oth­er children’s play. Over­whelmed by an attempt to do so, a child may instinc­tive­ly bite the child with whom he or she is try­ing to play. This tod­dler needs the guid­ance of a car­ing adult who can help him or her learn pos­i­tive social inter­ac­tion skills.

Take our 2 clock hour (0.2 CEU) Course Bit­ing Hurts! to learn more about why young chil­dren bite and how to respond effec­tive­ly. This course will help you devel­op strate­gies for pre­vent­ing and han­dling bit­ing inci­dents and com­mu­ni­cate with par­ents about biting.

What­ev­er the rea­son for young children’s bit­ing, you must remem­ber the fol­low­ing points:

  • Bit­ing is usu­al­ly a short-term phase that has no last­ing sig­nif­i­cance in terms of the child’s development.
  • Bit­ing is not an occa­sion for blame. Do not blame the child, the child’s par­ents, or yourself.
  • Bit­ing is not a sign that the child is “bad.” It is not cause for punishment.”

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