dr martens gibson Top Tips on Stopping Your Child Biting
Experts suggest that up to a quarter of all children will bite others at some stage. Many parents say that it’s one of the worst things your child could do in public. So how do we put a stop to biting?
Angus was a gentle toddler loving and easy going. But he had a nasty habit; he was a biter not of friends or family, but he bit children he didn know. couldn believe it was happening, says his mum, was just awful. For a good year I avoided everything except being on my own or with close friends. I couldn face coffee mornings, parks, soft play areas. I just withdrew into myself. your child bites, it worse than a full blown tantrum in a supermarket. Other parents are appalled; the victim nurses a throbbing red mark and you wish you could just sink into the ground. It about the most antisocial, public thing your child can do.
Many parents of biters complain they receive an unfair dose of disapproval often their children have been heavily provoked. worst thing about it is that other parents complain so much, says one mum whose seven year old son recently bit his classmate. children have equally antisocial habits taunting and teasing but the biter is the one who gets the blame. all kids bite, but anecdotally experts say up to a quarter of all children will do so at some stage mostly between the ages of two and three. It is a phase that does pass by four, most children have grown out of it. Some try the odd nip and move on, others grow into serial biters. And it a serious problem not least because it hurts so much and can get your child kicked out of nursery. But it doesn mean your child is a monster many biters are otherwise gentle and sociable.
Why do they bite?
Understanding why a child bites is key to beating the problem. Not all children bite out of anger or to hurt another child in fact young toddlers can really understand how much pain they causing. must ask yourself what the child is achieving by biting, says Lyn Fry, educational psychologist.
Look at who they bite, when they bite and in what situations. And a tailor made response will be more effective than a solution.
Expressing emotion: Oddly enough, young toddlers can bite as a way of showing love. have really intense feelings but don know how to show them, says Dirk Flower, chartered psychologist. can be a way of expressing their feelings. Mothers often don understand why it just them who get bitten. Toddlers are learning how their body works they put things in their mouths, and sometimes nip. It impulsive and they don mean to hurt. Often, a baby chomps on someone when they teething. Sometimes toddlers nip when they over excited.
Defending: Young children learn to bite as a defence, especially if they can talk. David was an emotional boy who didn learn to speak until after he turned three and until then would bite other children whenever he grew anxious or felt threatened. Sometimes changes or upsets at home can bring on this type of biting. children are trying to establish a safety zone, explains Mr Flower. you bite, your victim moves away it a great defence. Some children know biting is a way of getting other children or their parents to do what they want. They don always do this consciously. It may happen when a group of children are jostling to be leader. Sometimes the youngest child in the family bites to gain power. And as any child who ever tried it has learnt, biting is a fantastic way of getting attention and so what if it negative?
Frustrated or irritated: Your child wants a toy back. Or they want a biscuit or adult attention, or can cope with a situation. They may not understand turn taking and sharing. Or things may have changed at home or the child feels under stress. Your child doesn necessarily mean to cause harm, but just can find the words to express themself.
How to stop it
In all instances, react swiftly, and keep your cool. Don ever ever bite back or hit retaliation could be dangerous. just teaching them violence causes violence, says Mallory Henson. But don dodge the issue children need to know immediately that what they have done is wrong.
Intervene: Open your eyes look at how intense, how frequent bites are and what the triggers are. One of the best ways is to act before your child has a chance to sink their teeth into anyone. are slow to do this but it one of the best ways, says Lyn Fry. your child away from the person they about to bite. Or don put them into large groups if that where it happens. Plan in advance for their behaviour. Children often clench their teeth before they bite an unmistakable sign. Take the child somewhere quiet to calm down. If a teething child is trying out his or her teeth, find toys to chew and chomp on.
Teach them it wrong: When your child bites,
use simple but firm words. Try, biting, that wrong or a firm If you in a group, remove them from the situation. Explain that it hurts others and why you don like them doing it.
Teach them to express themselves: When things have calmed down, try to help your child find a less painful way to express their feelings. This works well with children who are biting to try to show their affection, says Mr Flower. your child expressing love, teach them to hug rather than bite whenever they feel strong emotions. Likewise, if your child bites out of defence, show them how to tell somebody they don want him or her too close to make the sign (a hand held up) or even gently to push the other child shoulder which won hurt but gives a clear message. Or teach them to come and find you instead if they angry.
Reduce the effectiveness: When children bite to gain attention, dealing with it is trickier. After the first big talking to, don try to continue to reason or explain. Give a firm your body between victim and biter and turn your back on the biter, says Mr Flower.
Give the victim sympathy and the biter a clear message this is an unproductive way of getting attention.
If time out is one of your methods, now the time to use it. If the bite was over a toy or treat, remove it for a short while. If a child tries to control his or her mum by biting, try physically putting a part of their body in the way as they go to bite an arm or a leg, which will stop them in their tracks.
Praise them for good behaviour: Catch your child behaving well not biting siblings, playing well in groups, not biting to get his or her way and be generous with praise. Be specific boy becomes like water off a ducks back to them, says Ms Fry. Instead try: well you playing or you kind and gentle to your little brother? nothing works
can help feeling the people who give out advice haven actually struggled with a child who bites, says one mum of a biter. There are a number of reasons methods may not work there may be omething getting in the way of your child learning perhaps anxiety. Some children learn at different speeds and won pick up on things straight away you might just need to be more persistent.
Stick with it: Keeping to a plan of action is more difficult than it seems. need attention, energy, consistency and support, says family therapist David Spellman. methods aren rocket science, but need planning and determination. Make sure all your family and carers are on the same page young children find it hard when they receive mixed messages. Involve nursery and carers in putting a plan together.
Give clear commands and be positive: Young children can understand negatives, so avoid Try keep our mouths to ourselves instead. Try not to raise your voice and speak in a firm voice. Don overdo explanations: first bite may be impulsive, but a child soon learns they get an enormous amount of attention, says Ms Fry. of the biggest mistakes is to give the warning all over again. If they continue to bite, don go into why it wrong, just say biting, that wrong to ask for help: Don rush to a therapist; seek help or advice first from friends and other parents, or teachers and nurseries and health visitors, who can also point you in the right direction if you want to take it further.
Reward Chart: As used on Supernanny, the Reward Chart is a useful way to reinforce good behaviour on the spot,
and the Star Chart can be a great tool for things like potty training.