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Help! My child bites other children – what can I do?

If your child is a biter then you may be reassured that at least a quarter of all children will bite other children. In fact my eldest did his best to devour his pals. Happily this was a transient phase that caused me immense worry and acute embarrassment for only the few months prior to him turning 2 ¼ years old, the age at which he mastered the art of speech. Coincidence? Probably not, for while children can bite for many reasons, the inability to effectively communicate feelings such as the frustration felt at another child taking a toy away from them is, I believe, one of two key reasons for biting.

The other key reason is the inability of the biting child to deal with an emotional situation such as not being the first one down the slide or another child sits too close to them. Given the tender age of most biters, typically between 2 and 3 years old, perhaps this is understandable.

So it’s important to work out what situations cause your child to bite – and then you can work out how to stop it. Intervening by removing your child from the scene just as he/she has bared their teeth in readiness to bite will save screams and sore skin.  It will also give you opportunities to teach your child that biting is wrong and to give him/her an alternative way of expressing their displeasure. Just be aware that negative attention is better than no attention so try to avoid lengthy explanations and descriptions lest biting is perceived by your child as having its advantages…

Provided this is done consistently then over time the biting should cease and finally, remember to praise your child for their “non-biting” behaviour!