Parents may often wonder why their little one bites. But between the ages of 14 months and three years, children are prone to exploring — with their mouths.
Luckily, this behaviour usually disappears when children are better able to communicate and verbally express their needs. Parents should remember to remain calm, respond appropriately and encourage children to express themselves in a better way that doesn’t include biting into flesh. Ouch!
There are many reasons why children may begin to bite those around them. However this is a natural childhood behaviour and although painful, is rather harmless.
Teething: In the case of toddlers, they may just be teething, and biting may be a means to relieve the pain and discomfort.
Attention: They may also bite to get attention – as this is definitely a sure way of becoming the centre of attention, even if it is not the most welcomed type.
Imitation: Your child may be imitating someone from school, or a new friend who does the same.
Get own way: Children this age may also bite to get their own way. Perhaps they want to get a toy or to make someone leave, and they may view biting as the best way to achieve this.
Frustration: Although a little difficult for adults to understand, growing up can be very frustrating, especially when you can’t speak and there is no way to vent your frustration. Let’s face it, out of everyone – children are probably the most misunderstood.
Stress: Sometimes biting is the only way to release this built up stress. Not only this, but it’s also a pretty good way of expressing that stress.
Self-defence: Children like adults will self-defend if the need arises. Perhaps your child was also bitten or was intimidated in some way.
Cause and effect: Your child is very curious at this age, and she may bite just to find out what your reaction to her biting will be. At this stage, your child may not even realise that biting causes others pain.
Exploring: Children learn through their senses. Tasting, just like seeing, hearing, touching and feeling plays a very integral part to their learning. If your child’s kisses turn into aggressive nibbles, then remove her from your lap and tell her firmly, “No biting!”
If his “kisses” turn into aggressive nibbles, for instance, remove him from your lap with a firm “no biting.” He’s still too young for lengthy explanations about why biting is bad; it’s enough at this point to simply tell him that he must not bite under any circumstances
Biting after 3 years old
In most cases, biting should stop around the time your child is over 4 years old. But it may continue on later in their lives. In these cases, it is more calculated and deliberate. As mentioned previously, attention is a major reason for this. Children thrive on attention, and negative attention to a child, is better than no attention at all.
Stopping the behaviour
Identify the cause: Identify why your child is biting in the first place. Run through the possible reasons and recognize which one resonates with your child. Once you do this, you are one step closer to putting a stop to the biting.
Avoid positive reinforcement: Never laugh or offer any positive reinforcement when your child bites you, even if it isn’t sore. If you do, your child won’t realise that it is painful and may just repeat the behaviour on someone else.
Should I bite back?
According to clinical psychologists, adults should not bite their child back, as this will have a negative effect. This reaction will mostly communicate that biting is an acceptable way to work out problems. While you should definitely tell your child that biting is not okay, punishing him may actually send the biting into overdrive.