Biting is a normal part of a toddler's development. During teething, biting relieves itchy or painful gums, and toddlers grow accustomed to putting things in their mouths. They are also beginning to understand the importance of language. Frustration at not being able to express themselves, or conflict with other children in a daycare setting may cause toddlers to bite. Biting can be stopped if you act promptly and decisively.
Stop the toddler from biting with a firm "No!" Tend to the bite victim by comforting the child, cleaning any wounds with soap and running water, and applying a cold compress if necessary.
Ascertain the reason for the toddler's biting. Usually a conflict over toys or personal space is to blame. Separate the biter from the other children. Explain to the child that you understand his reasons for biting but that biting is never okay. If the child is able to speak, explain what he should have said instead of biting. For example: "You should have said 'No! That's my toy.' " When dealing with older children, ask them what response would have been more appropriate.
Give the child alternatives to biting. Explain that she should express her anger or frustration and that, if the other child does not respond, she should call you so that you can help.
Distract the biter by diverting her attention to another area. If she is hungry or tired, take care of these needs first. Give her a new toy, or direct her to a different corner of the room. If possible, repeat offenders should be shadowed by a teacher to prevent biting before it happens. If the biter always bites the same child, keep them separated.
Reassure the biter that he is important to you and that you care what he is feeling. This will help to alleviate the frustration that leads to biting. Prevent future incidents by ensuring that the daycare facility has enough room for the children to play comfortably. Ensure that each child has a number of toys to choose from.
Tips & Warnings
- Always inform the parents of both the biter and the bite victim. Assure them that you have taken care of the situation. Work with parents of repeat offenders to ensure that the "no biting" rule is enforced at home.
- It is your responsibility to ensure the safety of all the children at your daycare facility. Should the aggressive behavior of one child be endangering the others, it is imperative that you work to resolve the issue or, as a last resort, ask that child to leave the daycare.
- Photo Credit Dynamic Graphics Group/Dynamic Graphics Group/Getty Images