Biting: Why it happens and what should you do about it | Expert advice

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Embarrassed to take them to soft play, children’s groups, parks, in case it happens again?

A toddler biting is actually extremely common, yet as a parent you can feel like you’re alone.

Babies experiment with their mouths. It’s one way they learn about the world around them and when they bite they are looking to see what happens; a dummy, toy, boob!? What reaction can or do they get?

But before the age of 4 their emotional development is immature and often they do not know the best way of expressing themselves. They are still learning.  If something upsets them or angers them it can be stored up. Particularly if we have used the good old distraction technique!

The distraction technique

Have you been told to use the distraction technique when your child hits terrible twos? I am sure these tantrums start way before 2 years and last until… Well my son is 3.5 years and I am still waiting for him to stop?!

How many of us see another child coming in for the swoop to take our child’s toy? We glare at the other child as to say, “don’t do it!” Yet we end up distracting our child by offering them something else? Or see our child’s nostrils start to flare because we’ve said “no” to them having a 10th biscuit and so we distract in order for them not to scream the cafe down!  All of these emotions are then stored up as they have not had a chance to express their feelings.

Anytime but now

Eventually it can get too much and the emotion just then over flows. You cannot predict when or where. What you can guarantee, though, is it’s going to be in front of as many people as possible! It’s not the child’s fault and it’s not meant to hurt but it can result in them biting.

Ground, swallow me up right now!

But what do you do!?

Dr Lin Day, parenting expert, advises you to put your arm around them and keep calm. This then makes them feel safe and secure, followed by asking,

“Why did you do that?”

If they wriggle or laugh it is just a release of emotion which then follows with a cry. Even though it is horrid to see our little one cry, it releases all the tension and frustration which has built up.

Being open about it and talking to other parents helps everyone to see that it happens. Often.

All too often, others will label the child as, ‘The Biter.’ They develop the attitude of, “you need to keep an eye on that one.” Whilst you can understand the roots of this mentality, it’s entirely unhelpful and will not only isolate the child further, but the parents too!

Is your child a biter? Let us know your thoughts and experiences below.


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