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Children and Biting

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 28 Aug 2014 | comments*Discuss
Biting bite biter children And Biting

Many children go through a biting phase, often related to teething when they are young but sometimes due to aggression when they are older. Whatever the cause, biting is not pleasant behaviour and a child who bites is likely to become one who finds him/herself alone and lonely. Thankfully, there is much that parents can do to tackle biting among their children.

Discover the Cause of Biting
There are many reasons that children may begin to bite others. Young children may be teething, particularly getting molars, which pain their gums and they find relief in gnawing on items – even others’ arms and legs! They may also simply be interested in what others taste or feel like and have decided to investigate with their mouths. Older children may be imitating a new friend who bites and they have decided to join in this new activity, and still others may have pent-up aggression that they can not verbalise so they act out through biting. Some children even bite because they realise that it brings them attention and they figure that even negative attention is better than no attention at all.

Discipline Biters Immediately
Even if children are biting as a way of getting attention they won’t appreciate an interruption to their activities in order to be disciplined. Parents who are dealing with a biter should call attention to the behaviour immediately by strongly advising children “No biting!” If the child does not stop biting others the phrase should be repeated and the child removed from the activity. At this point sending the child to the Naughty Step or Time Out is a good idea as it gives the child time to think about what (s)he has done. Before being allowed back to their activities, children should issue an apology to the bitten child, and/or their parents, and be able to explain to their own parent or carer what they did wrong and what they will or won’t do in the future.

Even if biting occurs frequently, it is best to discipline a child each time the behaviour occurs rather than save up discipline for later when the message of why (s)he is being disciplined could become confused or forgotten. Parents should also not attempt to show children what they are doing to others by biting the children themselves. Not only does this rarely teach a child not to bite but it usually reinforces the behaviour – Mummy or Daddy do it so it must be ok! (And imagine the embarrassment if your child actually tells that to a teacher or new friend.)

Apply the Golden Rule
When children bite others they often don’t realise that they are causing physical pain. Parents should explain this to children in simple language, for example by saying “It hurts Meg when you bite her” or “Billy doesn’t like it when you bite him”. Parents should also take this opportunity to explain the Golden Rule to children – that they should treat others they way they would like to be treated – and remind children that this applies to almost everything in life. Making this a family motto and reminding children of it whenever they misbehave will help them learn what is appropriate and what is not.

Children may begin to bite others for all sorts of reasons. Parents who are living with a biter should remember to discipline their child immediately when they bite others and use the opportunity to remind the child of the Golden Rule. Most children grow out of a biting phase on their own, but asking a GP’s opinion is advised if parents become concerned about this behaviour.

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Hi, my daughter bite me today in public when we were out doing a nice activity with her and her friends and her mam, this is not the first time, she bite me due to me removing her from a situation were she was screaming for her friends toy, I took her out side and asked her to sit down until she had calmed down she kept getting back up and I kept sitting her back down this ended in her biting me very hard leaving a nasty mark I was rather embarrassed and upset as there was lots of people around had this happend at home she would of had a stern telling off and sent away out of my sight and normaly she comes cuddles me and apologies and we talk through why it is naughty. but in public this is much harder to do and I struggle very much to the point I could burst into tears as I feel frustrated that she has bite me and I am doing something nice with her, park soft play swimming the bad behaviour always seems to happen when we are in company rather when it is just me and her, she has also bite her best friend that she spends a lot of time with at nursery but never anyone else!
Jessiejane - 28-Aug-14 @ 12:26 AM
My youngest grandson has just turned 4 and he's a biter. Not always, but mostly when he gets over excited. THis older sister was the target yesterday and it was a real beauty! She is so good with him and never retaliates, and after he's been sent to his room for being naughty he apologies to his sister and cuddles her. He's a great wee lad, very bright and loving and gets plenty of love in return, but this biting is a problem especially since he's just started his second year at nursery. My daughter is on tenderhooks waiting to be called in! The woman who is in charge at the nursery is pretty strict so I don't think he gets the chance to get over excited there, but he makes up for it at home! He bit his granddad on the arm a couple of weeks ago, just out of the blue, and has bitten his elder brother on the bottom! I seem to be the only one who has escaped so far. I think it's over excitement that makes him do it - but how do you stop it?
Rella - 18-Aug-14 @ 9:00 AM
children who bite? a sure sign of bad breeding. parents are probably aggressive scum who ignore their kids. disgusting behaviour.
danicali - 24-Apr-14 @ 9:31 PM
My grandson is 4 1/2. He has started biting others, usually when play fighting, be it with other children or adults.My daughter (who is divorced) is very alarmed by this behaviour and expects the child to explain the reason for doing it.They are about to move to another house, in another town, indeed another county some 100 miles away! It's all good, because that's where we (her family) and life-long friends live and where my grandson has spent a great deal of time and where he loves to be.However, it will mean that he will be changing schools (his second at such a tender age!), moving house, and all that that entails.He's a bright little chap and I'm sure that it will be worrying him at different times.Could this be the reason for a display of some kind of "bad" behaviour and what advise could you give please?? With many thanks. Tina
tina - 7-Jan-12 @ 11:13 AM
my grandaughters 2 and keeps biting her mum x
kaz - 8-Aug-11 @ 10:45 PM
I have a 3 year old who will be 4 in October. He was potty trained at the age of 2 and a half and recently he has started licking everything, his fingers are always in his mouth or he always has a toy in his mouth. He has also bitten his younger brother twice in anger and tried to stick the fork in his hand to "make holes" he said. My sister said it could be that I potty trained him too early? What can I do about this and should I be concerned. Its embarrasing when he licks things at other peoples houses. He also cries alot when things dont go his way. Advice would be really great. K
Kat - 15-Jun-11 @ 8:04 PM
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