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How to stop my child from biting others
Biting (for Parents) - Nemours KidsHealth
Reviewed by: Shana L. Boyle, PhD
Psychology (Behavioral Health) at Nemours Children's Health
en español Hábito de morder
Toddlers do the most adorable things: Give unexpected hugs, squeal with laughter, and cuddle up to you when they're tired.
But as any parent of a toddler will tell you, they also do some not-so-adorable things, like kick, scream ... or bite.
Biting is quite common in kids this age, but it can still be rather frustrating and difficult to manage at times. There are ways to get to the bottom of your toddler's biting habit. Here's how to help curb this type of behavior.
Why Do Toddlers Bite?
Biting is very common in early childhood. Babies and toddlers bite for a variety of reasons, such as teething or exploring a new toy or object with their mouth. As they begin to understand cause-and-effect, they also might bite a person to see if they can get a reaction.
Biting also can be a way for toddlers to get attention or express how they feel. Frustration, anger, and fear are strong emotions and toddlers lack the language skills to communicate how they are feeling. Instead, they may bite as a way of saying, "Pay attention to me!" or "I don't like that!" Toddlers may also learn that biting can be used as a tool for accessing a desired item.
Biting is slightly more common in boys and tends to happen most often between the first and second birthday. As language improves, biting tends to lessen.
What Can Help Kids Stop Biting?
Parents should have a zero-tolerance rule for biting — at home, daycare, and elsewhere. If it does happen, be sure to deal with it right away.
The next time your child bites, try these steps:
Step 1: Be calm and firm. Address your child with a firm "no biting!" or "biting hurts!" Keep it simple and easy for a toddler to understand. Make it clear that biting is wrong, but avoid lengthy explanations until your child is old enough to understand. Remaining as calm as possible will help resolve the situation more quickly.
Step 2:Comfort the victim. Direct your attention to the person who has been bitten, especially if it's another child. If there is an injury, clean the area with soap and water. Get medical care if the bite is deep or bleeding.
Step 3:Comfort the biter, if need be. Often, toddlers don't realize that biting hurts. It's OK to comfort a child who feels upset about hurting someone. An older toddler might learn from being allowed to comfort or apologize to a friend after a bite. But if the biter is using the behavior to get attention, you don't want to reinforce this behavior by giving comfort and attention.
Step 4: Offer alternatives. When things have calmed down, suggest alternatives to biting, like using the words "no," "stop," and "that's mine" when wanting to communicate with others. For example, show your child how to approach a peer, put out their hand, and then say “please” to ask for an item.
Step 5: Redirect. Distraction works wonders with kids this age. If emotions and energy levels are running high or if boredom has set in, help redirect a little one's attention to a more positive activity, like dancing to music, coloring, or playing a game.
Discipline usually is not necessary, as most kids don't realize biting hurts. Never hit or bite a child who has bitten, as this teaches the child that this behavior is OK.
If you try these steps and the behavior doesn't stop, time-outs may help. Older toddlers can go to a designated time-out area — a kitchen chair or bottom stair — to calm down. As a general rule, about 1 minute per year of age is a good guide for time-outs. You might need to supervise your toddler during a time-out, but be careful to not give them any attention. Your child should be calm and quiet before leaving the time-out area.
To keep your little one on the right track:
Be consistent. Reinforce the "No biting" rule at all times.
Use positive reinforcement. Rather than reward negative actions with attention, make it a point to praise your child when they behave well. You can say something like, "I like how you used your words" or "I like how you're playing gently" to reinforce positive alternatives to biting.
Plan ahead. Toddlers might be more comfortable and not feel the urge to bite if they know what to expect in new or high-energy situations. If biting happens at childcare, you might consider putting your child in a calmer, smaller setting.
Find alternatives. As language skills develop, you can help your child find better ways to express difficult emotions. For example, asking kids to "use their words" when they're frustrated or upset can help calm them. If you need help, a doctor, counselor, or behavioral specialist can discuss ways to teach your child to manage strong emotions and express feelings in a healthy way.
When Should I Call the Doctor?
Biting is common in babies and toddlers, but it should stop when kids are about 3 or 4 years old. If it goes beyond this age, is excessive, seems to be getting worse rather than better, and happens with other upsetting behaviors, talk to your child's doctor. Together you can find its causes and ways to deal with it.
Reviewed by: Shana L. Boyle, PhD
Date reviewed: June 2022
Toddler Biting: Finding the Right Response
Trying your best to understand the underlying cause of a toddler’s biting will help you develop an effective response. Children bite in order to cope with a challenge or fulfill a need.
Toddler biting is a very common behavior, which means there are a lot of concerned parents out there. You are not alone. The good news is that there is a lot that parents and caregivers can do to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate biting.
To set the stage for effectively addressing this challenge, avoid calling or thinking of your child as a “biter” and ask others not to use this term. Labeling children can actually lead to them taking on the identity assigned to them, which can intensify biting behavior rather than eliminate it.
Shaming and harsh punishment do not reduce biting.
Children bite in order to cope with a challenge or fulfill a need. For example, your child may be biting to express a strong feeling (like frustration), communicate a need for personal space (maybe another child is standing too close) or to satisfy a need for oral stimulation. Trying your best to understand the underlying cause of the biting will help you develop an effective response. This makes it more likely that you will be successful in eliminating the behavior.
Why do toddlers bite?
There are many reasons why toddlers might bite. Some are listed below. If you think one of these reasons might by why your child is biting, read specific strategies on how to respond later in the article. Toddlers might bite if they:
Lack language skills necessary for expressing important needs or strong feelings like anger, frustration, joy, etc. Biting is a substitute for the messages he can’t yet express in words like: I am so mad at you,You are standing too close to me, I am really excited, or I want to play with you.
Are overwhelmed by the sounds, light or activity level in this setting
Are experimenting to see what will happen
Need more active playtime
Have an need for oral stimulation
What Can I Do to Prevent Biting?
Questions to Consider
As you watch your child at play, you can begin to anticipate when a bite might occur. The following questions can guide you in identifying the kinds of situations often lead to biting:
What happened right before the bite?
Who was your child playing with?
Who was bit? Is it always the same child, or different children each time?
What was your child doing?
Where was your child?
Who was caring for your child?
Strategies to Prevent Toddler Biting
If you see signs that your child might be on the verge of biting, you can:
1. Distract your child with a toy or book. Suggest looking out the window or take a walk to another room or outside. The goal is to reduce the tension and shift your child’s attention.
When parents shift their focus and energy to the child who was bitten, they clearly communicate that biting does not result in more attention. (Credit: Szefei / Shutterstock.com)
2. Suggest how your child might handle the situation that is triggering the need to bite. For example: Marcus, you can tell Ana: “You are a little too close to me. I don’t like it when you touch my hair.” If you think your child might be biting due to a need for oral stimulation, offer your child something he can safely bite and chew—a cracker, some carrot sticks, or a teether.
3. Suggest ways to share. Take out a kitchen timer to give children a visual reminder of how long they can each play with a particular toy. In a group caregiving setting, you will want to make sure that the classroom has more than one of the most popular toys. Sharing is one of the most common triggers for biting.
4. Reading books about biting can also help. As you read, ask your child how the different characters might be feeling. If you have an older toddler, you can ask him to “read” the book to you, by telling you what is happening based on the pictures. Some titles to recommend include:
Teeth Are Not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick
No Biting by Karen Katz
No Biting, Louise by Margie Palatini
What Do I Do When My Toddler Bites?
First, keep your own feelings in check. When a toddler bites, you might feel frustrated, infuriated, annoyed, embarrassed, and/or worried. All of these feelings are normal, but responding when you are in an intense emotional state is usually not a good idea. So calm yourself before you respond—count to 10, take a deep breath, or do whatever works for you.
Identifying the kinds of situations that often lead to biting will help you find the best way to prevent biting. (Credit: Issarapong Srirungpanich / Shutterstock.com
In a firm, matter-of-fact voice (but not angry or yelling), say: No biting. Biting hurts. Comment on how the other child is feeling: Look, Madison is crying. She is crying because you bit her. Biting hurts. Keep it short, simple and clear.
Next, shift your attention to the child who was bitten. Often when a child bites, adults pay a lot of attention to him or her. This is usually negative attention, but it is still very reinforcing and can actually cause the biting behavior to continue, rather than stop. When parents shift their focus and energy to the child who was bitten, they clearly communicate that biting does not result in more attention. Showing concern and sympathy for the child who was bitten also teaches empathy.
Remember, learning a new behavior takes time.
If your child is verbal and able to talk about his experiences, go back and talk with him about the different strategies he can use next time, instead of biting: If Tyler grabs your cuddly and won’t let it go, you can say: “Tyler, that is my cuddly. Give it to me.” If he won’t give it back, you can come get me and I will help you. Or: When you want to play, you can say: “Will you play with me?” Then your friend knows you are ready to play.
Help the children move on. Ask: What would you like to play now? It might help to offer activities, like play-dough, drawing, or playing in sand or water, that allow them to release energy in constructive ways and can help them relax. The toddler who bit and the child who was hurt should not be made to play with one another, unless they want to.
Remember, learning a new behavior takes time. Your toddler may bite again, so continue watching playtime closely. It also helps to use the same words (No biting. Biting hurts.) as consistently as possible to emphasize the message.
Strategies to Respond Based on Your Child’s Development
1. Support Communication and Language Skills
If you think biting is a substitute for not having the language skills to express himself you can:
Put into words what you guess your child might be thinking:Tanya, do you want to have a turn on the tricycle? You can ask Henry, “Can I have a turn now?”
Help your child express his feelings in appropriate ways. If your child is really angry, you can say: Max, you are so mad! You are really, really angry. Then suggest a way to deal with these feelings: Making angry lion faces and growling, ripping up newspapers, punching the couch cushions, banging a drum, jumping up and down—whatever is acceptable to you.
Reinforce your child when he uses words to share his feelings:You asked me for a turn blowing bubbles instead of grabbing them. Great job. Here you go.
Give your child age-appropriate choices, for example, about what to wear or who to play with. Having choices gives children a sense of control and can reduce biting.
Consider a speech-language assessment if you think your child’s verbal skills might be delayed.
2. Help Your Child Cope With Feeling Overwhelmed
If your child is easily overwhelmed by lights, sound, and activity, you can:
Keep television and radio off or on low volumes.
Avoid big crowds and high-activity settings like the mall or the playground on a sunny Saturday morning.
Schedule activities with a lot of sensory input (like clothes-shopping or trips to dentist or doctor) for your child’s “best” times of day, when he is fed and well-rested.
Talk with your child’s other caregivers about his difficulty managing a lot of sensory input. Brainstorm ways to reduce the stimulation in his other caregiving settings.
Give your child a firm “bear” hug when you sense she is feeling stressed and out of control and perhaps about to bite. This can help children feel “held together” which can be very soothing.
Create a “cozy corner” in your house with pillows, books and other quiet toys like stuffed animals, or use a playtent as a safe place to take a break. Explain that this is a place your child can go if he wants to be alone or feels out of control and needs to cool down. Ensure that your child’s other caregiving settings have a “cozy corner” as well.
3. Explain the Effects of Their Actions
If your child is experimenting to see what will happen when he bites, you can:
Provide immediate, firm, unemotional (as best you can) feedback (No biting. Biting hurts.). Shift attention away from your child to the child who was bit.
Help your child understand about cause-and-effect:You bit Macy and now she is crying. When you bite, it hurts your friends. Biting is never okay.
4. Provide Opportunities for Active Play
If your child needs more active play, you can:
Set aside time each day to be active. Take a walk after breakfast. Turn music on while you are cooking dinner and have your child dance with you.
Talk with your child’s other caregivers to ensure that active play is a part of everyday. Toddlers who bite should not be punished by losing “recess” time. This may make the problem worse.
Build activity into your child’s everyday routines—for example, doing 10 jumping jacks before lunch or stretching before bed.
5. Address Sleep Challenges
If your child is over-tired, you can:
Try incrementally moving her bedtime 30 to 60 minutes earlier over a few weeks.
Set up a schedule of naps or, if she won’t nap, “quiet times” when she is in her crib or bed with a book and soft music playing.
Avoid play-dates or other potentially stressful activities on days when she is very tired.
Tell your child’s other caregivers when she has not slept well or is tired so they can shadow her, in order to reduce the possibility of a biting incident.
6. Support Healthy Teething
If your child is teething, you can:
Offer him a teether or cold washcloth to bite.
Talk to your child’s caregivers to make sure they understand he is teething and to identify appropriate teethers in the classroom.
7. Provide Oral Stimulation
If your child has a need for oral stimulation:
Offer her crunchy (healthy) snacks at regular intervals across the day. Research has found that this intervention can actually reduce biting incidents.
When to Seek Help
While biting is very common behavior, it usually stops by age 3 to 3 ½. If your toddler continues to bite, or the number of bites increases instead of decreases over time, it is probably a good idea to request an assessment from a child development specialist.
This professional can help you identify the reason for the biting and develop a strategy for addressing the behavior. Remember, there is no quick fix. Over time, and with assistance, your child will stop biting and use more appropriate ways to express her needs.
What absolutely WILL NOT work to stop biting?
Shaming or harsh punishment do not reduce toddler biting, but they do increase your child’s fear and worry—which can actually increase biting incidents. Aggressive responses like these also do not teach your child the social skills he or she needs to cope with the situations that trigger biting.
Biting your child back, which some might suggest, is not a useful response. There is no research to show this behavior reduces biting. However, it does teach your child that it’s okay to bite people when you are upset! Keep in mind that human bites can be dangerous, and biting constitutes child abuse. This is not an appropriate response to toddler biting.
Why does a child bite? – "Internet office of a healthy child"
Ufimtseva Olesya Borisovna
Social teacher of the consultative and health department of the City Center for Medical Prevention
To understand why the baby began to bite, it is necessary to assess the situation in which this happened, and also take into account the age of the child. The reasons why a 10-month-old baby bites will be radically different from the reasons why a two- to four-year-old child starts biting. And the ways to deal with this behavior will also be different.
Consider the reasons why young children bite.
Baby biting at 5-8 months
Most likely, the reason for this is the discomfort and pain associated with teething. The child becomes capricious, whiny, he is ready to bite and gnaw everything that comes to hand. When a child bites, he thereby tries to reduce the load on the gums, or get rid of the unpleasant sensations that occur in the mouth during teething. If a small child bites because his gums are swollen and red, keep teething toys handy at all times. But up to a year and a half, the problem with painful teething can persist in any case, so this period can simply be waited out without taking special measures.
Baby biting at 1 year old
If the child’s teeth no longer bother, but a one-year-old child bites during a game or just like that, this may indicate overwork, a one-year-old child needs to bite when he is angry or tired. Children, due to their age, still do not have enough language skills to express the surging feelings and emotions in words, for example, such feelings as: irritation, fear, helplessness. An overabundance of emotions that the baby cannot cope with becomes the reason why a one-year-old child bites. If your baby, in a joyful or angry outburst, can bite a parent or playmate painfully, this should not be ignored. In order to wean a child from biting at this age, show your dissatisfaction, tell the child a firm “no”, interrupt the game, show that you are offended and do not intend to continue the game. If a child bites other children, take him out of the game and explain that this will happen every time he bites.
Another way to wean a one-year-old child from biting is to offer him interesting and at the same time soothing activities that require creative work (sculpting, constructor, playing with sand and water, drawing with pencils and crayons, etc.), and also often offer to chew on solid food, for example, drying, carrot or apple.
Child bites at 2 years old
At the age of 2 years, children may bite an adult or other children because of a desire to control the actions of another person, or because of a feeling of irritation that has arisen. Two-year-olds also find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Due to the lack of language skills, biting children express their feelings, give vent to accumulated emotions.
In order to wean a 2-year-old child from biting, he needs to be made clear that such behavior is unacceptable. If your child has bitten a friend, come up with him in order to feel sorry for the victim and ask for forgiveness: the baby must know what to do to correct the situation.
Child bites at 3-4 years old
If a child 3 years of age or older bites, pay close attention to their peer relationships. Maybe the child has problems in communication, and he has to defend himself in this way.
If the child does not defend himself, but attacks, he may have problems with self-control. In this case, in order to determine how to wean a child from biting, it is necessary to consult with a specialist (neurologist and psychologist).
Dear parents! Try to understand the reason why a small child bites. On the one hand, biting for a child is a replacement for the verbal way of expressing negative emotions. With undeveloped speech at a certain age, it is difficult to explain why you are angry or offended, that you don’t like it, that you want this baby to return your toy. On the other hand, biting is a manifestation of aggression as a way to declare something that is not noticed. But what the child reacts to like that - parents need to find out. Watch your baby carefully: when, where and what, what behavior of others he starts to bite. After all, bites are the baby's reaction to the trouble in the relationship in which the child is currently located. The source can be both in the family and in kindergarten. And the more affection and care you show to the child, the more likely it is that he will not bite. Psychological comfort in the family, a healthy daily routine, sufficient sleep and long walks will also contribute to reducing the child's aggressiveness.
The child bites, how to deal with this problem?
September 21, 2017 10:13
Each stage of a child’s growing up has its own characteristics, through which both the baby and his parents must go through
When a child bites in a year, this can be explained by teething and an attempt to explore the world around him, but when a three- or even four-year-old child “shows his teeth”, and parents increasingly often they hear from kindergarten teachers or indignant mothers of other kids the phrase: “Your child bites!” - it's an awkward situation, isn't it? What to do at such a moment? How to wean a child to bite?
If the previous habits are rather harmless and self-directed, then the habit of biting is much less harmless, since it is aimed at causing pain to others. And it is perceived most often not with understanding, but with anger, which is a consequence of the unexpectedness of this action, the presence of pain, as well as the subconscious perception of this habit of another individual as aggression. Such a habit is an act of aggression even for parents who are unhappy, angry, instead of understanding and correcting the reason for such behavior of the child. In addition, adults also develop a sense of shame and guilt towards outsiders who have been attacked in this way or simply saw this situation.
Most children under 3 years of age can bite someone at least once, but this action will be a single one if brought up well. Babies usually stop biting on their own. A biting habit can be spoken of if biting occurs periodically, and after 3 years this can become a real problem. Sometimes biting children may be given special treatment if the biting affects others, or if the biting itself is accompanied by aggressive behavior.
By the way, here it is worth mentioning the desire of a child to hit someone. The habit of hitting others is also an act of aggression and can replace biting. Psychologists say that children over 3 years old who often bite and behave aggressively may suffer from health problems or from a difficult emotional state. In this case, consultation with a therapist or child psychologist is necessary.
Causes of a habit.
1. Teeth are being cut. At 5-7 months of age, biting may be a natural response to babies having discomfort around their mouth, or when their gums itch, or there is severe teething pain. Most often, babies bite their parents and relatives, but when they see a pain reaction, most often children stop biting people.
2. Knowledge of the world. Some babies experiment with bites and learn about the world in this way. A child can bite the hand of an adult or peer in the same way as he bites a rattle or a rubber ring. In the first few bites, he may not even be aware that he is causing pain.
3. Failure to meet basic physiological needs. It is not considered an aggressive reaction if the child bit when he was angry, upset or indignant. If his main needs are the same as hunger, thirst, the desire to go to the toilet. The desire to sleep, remain unnoticed by adults, this can also provoke anger and bite. Such reactions will not be observed if the parents are attentive to the needs of the baby and will properly take care of his physiological needs.
4. Inability to adequately express one's desires. Young children resort to biting when they cannot achieve their goal in any other way due to the inability to adequately express their desires. This may not be a problem while the child is still small. But when he crossed the threshold of 3 years, this already speaks of some psychological problems. This situation can happen if the baby wants to get a toy, but he does not have enough words to be understood. Or he gets frustrated that the tower he is building keeps falling down. This kind of action can be regarded as an attempt to assert one's rights or as an experience due to the inability to do something.
Biting is usually not a planned action. It spontaneously becomes the child's reaction to what he does not like. Children bite for different reasons depending on their age.
5. Strong nervous excitement. Before the age of 1.5 years, children usually bite other people in a state of high arousal. Parents, relatives or other children most often get hit. This is not a sign of aggression, but just a nervous overexcitation that can be directed in a different direction, most often a firm “No! We don't bite!"
6. Psychological reasons. Between the ages of 1.5 and 3 years, children may bite others because of irritation or a desire to control the actions of another person. Most often, they begin to bite other children, less often - relatives and parents. The vast majority of children bite their playmates when there is an argument over toys, a pacifier, food, or an adult's lap. This is a kind of protection and even self-defense. The extreme degree of such a state is a hostile attitude towards everyone around, a desire to hurt everyone around.
There are children who use biting to bully others, such as peers. This behavior is based on the desire to show themselves stronger than other children and can cause a serious problem with the child's psychological stability. After 3 years, children may bite when they feel helpless or afraid. For example, if they lose in a fight, they will inflict a warning bite so that they do not have to experience pain. They do not yet know how to assert their rights in a more productive way.
It often happens that biting parents is a way out of a child's subconscious aggression, dissatisfaction with parents, unwillingness to obey demands. In addition, the baby can thus attract the attention of adults if their caress, positive attitude is not enough for him.
7. Neurological reasons. Neurological causes of biting in children are rare. Only a pediatric neurologist can diagnose this kind of disorder.
Physical and psychological ways to fight the habit.
Many children bite when they are teething because of pain and discomfort. In addition, they may exhibit symptoms such as gum swelling, increased sensitivity and discomfort in the area of teething, high salivation, a rash on the chin, face or abdomen, refusal to eat and drink, irritability, intermittent and restless sleep. With all these symptoms, it is not surprising that a child may begin to bite. To avoid this, special teething rings or soft toys, various certified devices will help. Before buying, be sure to make sure that such products are not dangerous and that the child can take them in his mouth. In addition, biting or chewing on a clean, moistened, and cooled cloth can help reduce teething pain. First of all, the way to deal with periodic biting is to prevent this phenomenon - parents should not allow manifestations of aggression. It is very important that each time they adequately respond to the abrupt behavior of the baby. There is no need to wait until the child starts to get angry and nervous, it is better to trace the situations in which the release of aggression occurs and stop them, relieving nervous tension. Such preventive measures will be good not only for the psyche of the baby, but also for the psyche of his parents. You can, for example, pick up a child from the playground until he has bitten nearby babies. As an educational moment, you can choose the time and take away from him a toy or food that he cannot share with any of the children. You need to make sure that the child understands that the dissatisfaction of the parents is a direct result of his bites. They should directly explain to the baby why they are unhappy, so that he clearly understands that the reason is that he bites. Next, you need to remind him that if he continues to behave this way, this will lead to undesirable consequences. If an older child bites, you can ask him why he has the urge to bite. Sometimes they can tell themselves what feelings or actions led them to the incident. In such cases, you need to have a conversation with the child, try to explain that there are more effective ways to show your thoughts, feelings and desires, as well as to cope with frustration and feelings of anger. You can talk to him about feelings, for example, have the child take the ball and kick it with his foot. He will understand that this method will help to distract them and switch their attention to something else. You can find another way to distract the child - let him play with his favorite toy until his anger subsides, dance. In addition, it is required to encourage activities that are appropriate for the child's age and skills. To avoid irritation, parents should try not to use active games that may be too difficult or competitive in nature.
Adults should praise the child for every time he has controlled himself and managed feelings of anger and frustration and overcame his desire to bite. You can even come up with a way to encourage.
If the baby still bites, each case should be worthy of a comment, a conversation, such behavior cannot be left unpunished. It is necessary to strictly tell him that biting is not good and he should never do this. It is necessary to explain to the baby that he must own his feelings in any place, wherever he is, whether there are parents nearby or not. If the reason is the inability to communicate with peers, then conversations will help, a playful form in which adults would tell and show how you can play and communicate with a child of the same age. It must be pointed out that children will not communicate with him if he shows aggressive behavior. Encouragement of the child's attempt to use verbal forms for self-expression will work well, you need to talk about how he expresses his feelings in words, and not biting. By the way, speech problems in themselves can be the cause of increased nervousness and inappropriate behavior of the child. For some reason, he simply cannot yet express what he wants in words. The reason may be a delay in speech development due to reduced tactile sensitivity of the oral cavity.
The doctor diagnoses this problem. And it is solved with the help of the development of motor skills of speech and the physical capabilities of the oral cavity. Parents should be sure to include solid foods like carrots or apples in their daily diet that need to be chewed. You can teach your baby to blow soap bubbles, inflate balloons, play the harmonica or the pipe, come up with various "monkey" exercises and games with making funny faces or showing some individual emotions on the face (this develops facial expressions, acting skills, makes it easier for parents life, since children often fix these expressions and use them in everyday life - you can tell exactly what the child feels at the moment), exercises to strengthen the muscles of the oral cavity. The main thing is to explain to him that these exercises should not be done in public, otherwise the child may develop a bad habit of making faces while sitting in class or just being on the street.
Parents should model the behavior they want to see in their children. Toddlers have a very strong element of imitation. Adults themselves need to avoid outbursts of anger and other manifestations of aggression, they need to be a good example, show the child how to calmly cope with daily irritation. If the family normally has rude ways of communicating and treating each other, physical punishment of children is used, then the probability that the child will learn such ways of behavior and will use such measures when he has negative experiences is almost 100%.
Aggressive behavior such as biting may be a response to a lack of parental attention and support, which is a major social need in young children. For example, if a child is obedient, parents rarely notice him and praise him for his good behavior. Mostly parental attention goes to him when he does something bad. And the child learns from this lesson - the worse he behaves, the more attention his parents pay to him. The fact that adults get angry or punish him means little compared to the pleasure that this attention brings. In this case, only a review of educational methods and the amount of time and attention that parents devote to him will help. The baby needs to be supported, praised, helped to fall asleep.
If the biting of parents or others was provoked by some prohibitions that hinder the child's desire for freedom, his curiosity, independence or activity, then it is also necessary to reconsider the nature of education and make it softer, more flexible, not clothe the prohibitions in categorical forms. In any case, prohibitions are most often associated with the unwillingness of parents to do something (for example, mother does not order to run because the panties will get dirty), so you just need to increase the proportion of attention and care for the child, remove some of the prohibitions and give him a little more freedom .
For educational purposes, the child should be asked to apologize to the person he has bitten. Adults should explain to him that his bites are not only harmful to the physical health of another person, but also make him emotionally ill. It is important to teach the child to empathize, the ability to understand the feelings of others.
By the way, aggressive behavior like biting, slapping, beating parents in the face may be the result of the fact that the baby grew up in an atmosphere of indulgence to any of his desires, had no refusal in his demands, and then the parents began to “educate” him.
Naturally, the established model, when a child gets everything, begins to collapse, because of which he may try to achieve his goal with aggression, screaming, biting, tantrums, scattering and “beating” toys, aggressive attacks on others.
Parents in this case must be patient and begin to slowly eradicate the form of behavior habitual for the child, because it may not be overcome immediately and not with the help of a sharp increase in the number of prohibitions. And the longer the parents indulged the child in everything, the more difficult it will be to cope with aggression. In this case, adults often choose the tactic of waiting until the baby grows up and begins to clearly understand what is required of him and explain why they require it. But more often than not, such a technique does not justify itself, the child finally establishes the model of behavior “desire-refusal-aggression-getting what you want”.
Therefore, with a child who is trying to get his way by biting, you need to act consistently and constantly adhere to your requirements. Adults should also talk and agree, together to correct the behavior of the baby. Because the difference in the requirements of adults will not lead to the desired change in behavior. For example, if the father punishes the child for biting, and the grandmother protects him and takes pity, or at home the child is forbidden to bite his relatives, and in the store the child may start biting his mother in response to refusing to buy a toy and, as a result, gets a toy, because the mother experiences embarrassment in front of others for his behavior, the child will not learn the basic requirements of adults. He will only understand that in different situations you can behave differently, use bites or aggression with impunity and begin to manipulate adults to achieve what you want. Giving in to the child's demands in such cases only means distorting his ideas about what is allowed and what is not, and is tantamount to defeat in the fight against his bad habit.
During development, the child constantly explores the boundaries of what is permitted, not only in his behavior in relation to the surrounding objective world, but also in his relations with people. That is why adults need to understand. That you need to “rally” against a bad habit and create a general negative opinion about the aggressive behavior of the child, to correct your own behavior. Therefore, the attitude in the family to biting other people should be unambiguous, the baby should understand that his negative behavior, which his parents have already condemned more than once, will always have unpleasant consequences for him, for example, adults refusing to play with him or depriving him of the opportunity to play with other children .
Often parents can't stand it and try to get their child to obey with the help of punishments. He might stop biting. But there is a possibility that there will be a “rollback” from such upbringing, for example, after a while his sleep may be disturbed, or he will begin to write in his pants. Cruel behavior and punishment can provoke a persistent neurosis in a baby. He may begin to experience persistent anger, but at the same time not be able to throw it out. Such experiences will destroy his mental health. It is also not recommended to bite your child, showing how painful and unpleasant it is, since such an example may be the reason for modeling unwanted behavior in him.
Psychologists are categorically against it if parents accept cruelty and physical punishment as the basis of education. And at the first signs of aggression in a baby, many parents, who had not taken such measures until that moment, suddenly begin to show reciprocal cruelty. It is categorically impossible to do this, since this bad habit and the way to get rid of it with the help of retaliatory aggression contradict each other. If the child showed aggression in response to the fact that he is dissatisfied with his parents, and the parents do not want the child to act in this way, and apply aggression to him, because they are dissatisfied with him, a vicious circle appears. The child learns this deep pattern of behavior and may even give up the habit of biting. But this will lead to deeper changes in the psyche, which can manifest themselves in the most unexpected way.
The material was prepared according to: Yu.V. Potapova, M.P. Shatalin Crises of childhood: obsessive childhood habits.
Read also on our website: “The child sucks his thumb, what to do about it?”, “Obsessive childhood habits”. Materials provided by the First Family Club "Abahaba" .
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