As we discussed in our post on infants and biting, children bite for various reasons during different periods of development. 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 the Care 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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