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Toddlers Biting

Biting and nipping toddlers get a lot of negative attention as a result of them biting so it is firstly important for us to establish why are toddler has started nipping and we can then look at how to prevent them from doing so.

Why has my toddler started biting?

When your toddler nips someone, they get a number of reactions:

  • The person they bit lets out a shriek and cradles their limb which is sporting a big, throbbing red mark
  • The parents of the bitten child also let out a shriek and run over
  • The look of other disapproving parents
  • Your reaction where you go bright red and cant believe your angelic little toddler was capable of causing such commotion.

Although the attention your toddler gets is negative, it is attention. Particularly if your toddler is always bitting the same people, e.g. their brother or sister, a friend of the family etc, it is likely that your toddler wants attention and knows that nipping will get them attention (even if it’s not good attention).

Move your toddler away from temptation

If they bite because they don't want other children touching their favourite toy, arrange for your toddler to leave this toy to one side and out of the reach of others. Still encourage your toddler to share the rest of their toys, but one treasured toy wont hurt.

Toddlers biting out of love

Your toddler may bite because they love you. Toddlers don’t always realise they are hurting you when they bite. Toddlers can experience an overwhelming sense of emotion and not know how to control it, which is why they nip instead.
Try encouraging your toddler to express their love in a different way such as kisses and explain that biting hurts and you would prefer cuddles instead.

Toddler nipping to try something new

Your toddler may nip out of impulse to try something new. Babies put things in their mouth to taste and see what it feels like, toddlers haven’t grown out of that habbit yet.

Biting toddlers may feel frightened

Your toddler may not be able to express their emotions so can not tell you when they are scared, upset or frightened. Biting is a great way for your toddler to develop a ‘safe zone’ as when their victim is bitten, they move away, giving your toddler more space.

Work with your toddler on this one. Work on coping techniques such as the invisible sunglasses technique, particularly if your to isn’t much of a talker.

How to stop your toddler biting

So now we have talked a bit about why toddlers bite, lets have a look at what you can do to help stop your toddler biting.

Stay calm to prevent your child nipping others

I know it is easier said then done, but if your cild is biting because they want attention, running in all guns blazing isn’t going to help.

You will need to act swiftly and keep your cool. Dont bite back or smack your child, you are just teaching them that violence causes violence. Your child needs to know and understand why biting is wrong.

Intervene to stop your child biting

Don’t give your toddler the chance to bite. The chance are that there are signs your toddler is about to nip someone, so distract your child with a toy or take them away from the situation. Although it is not confronting the issue, it will help your toddler to calm down and feel less stressed. When you are in control of the situation, you can explain to your toddler why biting is bad.

You could also teach your toddler signs to help them to get their own space back if they feel threatened. Getting your toddler to put their hand out in a ‘stop’ sign when they want personal space will help your toddler feel in control if they can’t communicate their feelings. If that person doesn’t move away, hopefully it will give you a chance to get to your toddler before they bite.

Give your toddler positive attention to deter biting

Make sure you regularly spend one on one time with your toddler. Giving toddlers attention and quality time together will help your toddler develop and you will understand them better.

Make sure you share attention between siblings

If you have a new baby in the house, they are going to take up a lot of your time, but make sure your toddler is still given plenty of time. Have a look at how to help your toddler adjust to having a new baby in the house.

Turn your back on the biter

If your toddler is nipping for attention, get in between the biter and their victim, with your back towards the biter. This is showing your toddler they are not going to get attention from you while they are being naughty.

Use the naughty step to stop toddlers biting

Now is a great time to implement the naughty step technique. Give your toddler the chance to calm down and then you can get him to apologise to their victim.

Stick with it - your child will stop biting eventually

Your toddler is bitting for a reason and it wont stop over night. There may be more than one cause for your toddler biting. Stick with it and reward your toddler when they have done well and encourage them to continue with their positive behaviour.