Biting 101

There is always a reason when a child bites. As adults it is our responsibility to identify the reason so we can help them to stop biting. Some of the reasons toddlers bite include:

Developmental issues

• Teething issues

• Sensory exploration

• Learning about cause and effect

• Communication skills or lack of

Expression of feelings

• Frustration

• Anger

• Anxiety Excitement

An environment or program that is not working for the child

• An environment or program that is too stimulating or not stimulating enough

• A space that is too crowded

• A rigid schedule

• Inappropriate expectations of the children

How do we prevent biting?

• We model kindness, gentleness, and empathy.

• We supervise children well when they are playing and redirect before a problem occurs.

• We talk a lot about feelings and work to build a child’s language skills.

What happens if a child bites?

• You should attend to the injured child, comforting him/her and administer the appropriate first aid.

• Firmly tell the biter, “No biting people.” Try to get the message across in a very serious way without scaring the child.

• If you are a child care provider make sure to fill out an incident report and notify the parent of the injured child. You will also need to notify the parent of the biter.

• If biting becomes a frequent behavior of a particular child, you may need to ask the parents to help think of strategies to deal with the situation.

Adapted from:

Gretchen Kinnell for Child Care Solutions, “No Biting, Policy and Practice for Toddler Programs” Second Edition, Redleaf Press 2008.

Karen Miller, “Simple Steps: Developmental Activities for Infants, Toddlers and Two Year Olds” Gryphon House, Inc. 1999