Having your child bitten or your child being the ‘biter’ can be very distressing as a parent and also as the caregiver. At times it is unavoidable especially for children in the toddlers age group. NCAC supports this saying that ‘ Biting is very common in Toddlers and vertically unavoidable in childcare settings. It is important to know that biting is a common behaviour’ . However, not all children go through this stage in the toddler years.
There are many reasons why children under the age of three bite. It could be purely frustration! They may not have the language skills to effectively communicate what they want or they may not want to share their favourite toy. It is typical that children of this age are quite egocentric and not aware of other children’s feelings or behaviour of others. They may not intentionally want to hurt another child and at times will be trying to give someone a kiss and bite! At times toddlers are also quite implusive and may bite a child who is in their way or they really want the toy the other child has.
Although as adults and early childhood workers we know that biting is not acceptable. We know it is common in young children but if this is a behaviour of your child that is ongoing and not disappearing then consulting the professionals in the children’s service/ or elsewhere, is the best idea. It is not easy as a parent to have this happen to your child or your child biting. If your child is over three, there may be other reasons the child is biting. There may be many underlying issues why an older child is still biting and professional advice should be sought.
In services we see toddlers biting a lot. There may be a few children displaying these traits in a younger room. Staff at my service at diligent in supervision and will document triggers if the issue is ongoing. Staffs try and ensure they are watching the children at all times but sometimes children are very quick and it happens.
We are qualified and learn through experience how to handle all types of behaviour issues. We may use a tone of voice to redirect the child, praise the child when he/she displays positive behaviour and redirect the child to another activity to distract him is displaying inappropriate behaviour. A child is never meant to feel ashamed, embarrassed or humiliated in front of others as this can be damaging to the child’s self esteem. Children do need to learn that biting is not acceptable and will usually grow out of it. Biting a child back is definitely NOT the answer. It only confuses the child; if an adult can bite, well why can’t I?
I would encourage families not to panic too much and to discuss openly with service. They will implement strategies to deal with the issues.
Until next time, Danielle
Reference: National Childcare Accreditation Council