How to Stop Children From Biting

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Many children will go through a biting phase at some point; in toddlers, this phase is often due to teething, while in older children, it is sometimes deliberately aggressive. You may need to take action with some positive parenting techniques.

Things You'll Need

  • Teething gel
  • Teething toys
  • Pinpoint the cause. Is your toddler getting new molars? Is your child under a lot of stress? Does he have a new playmate from whom he may be picking up this behavior? Once you determine why your child is biting, you are well on the way to solving the problem.

  • Avoid rewarding the behavior in any way. If your child bites you, don't laugh even if it doesn't hurt, and don't give him any kind of positive reinforcement that could lead to his biting anyone else.

  • React immediately, with consequences that are connected to the act of biting. If your child bites another child in a quarrel over a toy, remove the toy and don't let him play with it for a while. If he bites you because you will not give him a candy bar, make it clear that there will be no more candy bars until the biting behavior stops.

  • Remove your child from the situation. If your child bites another person at a party or playgroup, take him aside and deal with the problem promptly. Make it clear that you will leave immediately if he does not apologize, and if he bites again.

  • Restrain the possible impulse to bite back. Human bites can be dangerous, and retaliation just teaches your child that violence begets violence.

  • Insist on an apology, directly to the person your child has bitten, and (if your child has bitten a baby or toddler) to the other child's parent.

  • Talk to your child about why it is wrong to cause others pain; now may be as good a time as any to begin working on the "golden rule."

  • Help your child find more appropriate outlets for aggressive feelings and frustration, and encourage him to develop self control.

Tips & Warnings

  • If your toddler is biting due to teething pain, work on relieving the pain and offering objects that are appropriate for him to bite or chew on.
  • Have discussions with your child. Even very young children can participate in discussions about how they feel (and why), and will often come up with their own "self-disciplinary" solutions if you encourage them to take the initiative.
  • If your child becomes a chronic biter, contact your doctor; biting and other aggressive behavior can signal more serious problems.
  • Don't spank or slap your child if he bites; this is counterproductive because it reinforces the notion that aggressive behavior gets results.
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