Biting is one of the most frustrating behaviors facing child care providers. Unfortunately, there’s not a simple solution to stop all biting. The two keys to preventing future biting are to observe carefully and to plan for prevention.
Observing Biting Behaviors
If a child begins biting others, observe that child carefully. When and under what circumstances does biting occur? Who is the child biting? How does the biter react when the child they have bitten becomes upset? Is biting worse at certain times of the day? Answering these questions may help you think about how to prevent the biting. For a list of common reasons behind biting, see Why Do Some Children in Child Care Bite Others?
Discouraging Future Biting
Here are some simple ways to discourage biting in toddlers.
Keep the daily routine predictable. Predictable routines help children feel more comfortable in child care and reduce the stress and frustration that sometimes leads to biting.
Provide close supervision. Pay attention to the situations when biting is most likely to occur and be sure adults are close to the biter. Watch carefully for problems and intervene quickly. It may help to have a specific adult assigned to shadow the biter closely. If a biter is most likely to bite a specific child, separate those children to reduce the chances of an incident.
Reduce the frustrations of sharing toys. Toddlers have difficulty sharing or waiting for a turn with a toy. Make sure there are plenty of interesting activities available. Make extras of popular toys available whenever possible.
Be patient and consistent. When biting does occur, tell the biter firmly that it hurts and is not allowed. Teach the child a more appropriate way to handle the problem that precipitated the biting. Encourage the child to make amends to the person bitten. Provide cooling-off time when needed. Finally, guide the biter toward more appropriate behavior with gentle, loving discipline.
Teacher Video on Biting
The following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care video gives a toddler teacher's perspective on handling biting in child care:
For More Information
To learn more about handling biting and other behavior challenges in child care, take a look at the following eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care articles: