To Stop a Toddler Biting
1. Ask lots of questions About biting
- “If Jack hits you, what do you need to do? Yes, you need to say in a big loud voice ‘No, stop it Jack– that hurt!’
- And how might you feel? Yes, you might feel angry.
- And what can you do when you feel angry? Yes, you can shout. It’s OK to shout.
- Is there anything you can do that’s better than shouting? Yes, you can tell Jack: ‘Don’t hurt me. That’s not OK’
- And if he takes the toy you’re playing with what can you say then? Yes, you can say, “No, stop, mine!” Or you could say, “I was playing with that. Please give it back!“
- Are you allowed to bite Jack? No- that’s right – biting is not OK
- What can you bite? Yes, you can bite food, and you can bite on a teething ring. And yes, you could bite teddy.
- Why can’t you bite people? That’s right because it hurts.
- Is hurting people OK? No – we keep people safe.
- If you felt upset, who could you ask for help? Yes, you can ask mummy – or Mrs Watson – that would be a good thing to do when you’re at nursery.”
2. Be vigilant and try to make sure they don’t bite again
From now on you’re going to need to be really attentive to stop them biting.
If you think your child is getting frustrated move closer and talk them through what they need to do…
“Ella’s standing next to you at the sandpit, and I notice you’ve clenched your jaw. Are you feeling like you want more space? What can you say to Ella to tell her?
Say ‘Ella I need more space, can you play on that side of the sandpit?
What will you do if Ella doesn’t move? That’s right, you can move!”
Be really alert – If your child looks like they might bite quickly move in and put your hand on their forehead to stop them– then quickly move them away from the situation.
3. Give them lots of positive attention when they don’t bite.
If they haven’t bitten anyone in the last half hour, praise them for not biting.
If they didn’t bite, when they might have in the past, praise them.
“Well done – you didn’t bite! You used your words. You remembered the rule – We keep people safe – good for you!”
- If your child has bitten another child, this behaviour is often impulsive and is rarely premeditated.
- Read books such as ‘Teeth are not for biting’ by Elizabeth Verdick,
- Have rewards (that your child really wants) for not biting.
- Notice and comment on when they did not bite, ‘well done you played nicely with the children and you did not bite’. You get to have ten minutes playing dress-up with the sparkly shoes or ten minutes football in the garden with mummy.
- Talk to your child frequently about what they will do when they are frustrated or angry. Practice it.
- Never let your child get away with biting you. Squeal loudly and let them know that you are upset. Put them into Time out and ask for a sorry, and, if they are old enough, a better way to deal with their frustration next time.
- When they bite, make sure they do not earn their rewards. Make a big show of saying ‘I really wanted to read you a second storybook but I can’t because you bit someone today’
- If they need it, give them something they can bite such as a teething toy
- When your child is playing with other children keep a very close eye on them. If they seem frustrated and you think they may bite go to them quickly. ‘You seem angry that Mary took the train. How are you going to deal with it?’ See if you can help the children sort it out, but If necessary move them to a different part of the room or distract them.
So to stop a toddler biting:
- Ask them lots of questions about biting.
- Be vigilant and try to make sure they don’t bite again.
- And give them positive attention for not biting.
If you need more than three tips on this – or you’d like to discover the secrets you need to have happy well-behaved, children – please contact me by clicking here. You can arrange a free 20-minute (no obligation) chat to find out if working with me personally (by phone, Skype or face-to-face) would help you and your family. Contact Elizabeth