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Many children go through a stage, as they develop, where they take to biting objects, but worse, they start biting you and other children. This can be caused by a number of different factors:-
- It may be because they are teething and are literally trying to relieve some of the pain. Instead of biting a teether, they bite the nearest thing... which could be a parent or sibling or friend. This is common around age one.
- Slightly older children many just be experimenting and don't realise how much they can hurt others. This is common around 18 months.
- For children over 2, if they bite while playing with other children, this is more serious. It can cause more aggressive behaviour within the group, it can hurt and it can lead to real problems with their popularity with other peers.
What can you do?
- Make rules: make sure children know about sharing and taking turns. If they know this they are less likely to get annoyed if things don't go their own way.
- Supervise: Make sure you supervise carefully during playtimes and keep an eye on any problems that are brewing.
- Make an example out of the good children: praise good behaviour when it happens rather than just tell them off when they do wrong.
- Intervene and isolate: if they do bite, remove them from the situation and give them time away from the group.
- Provide alternatives: explain they can do other things when they are annoyed or disappointed. Try suggesting that if they get annoyed they should walk away or ask for help. Explain why this is better for them and all their friends.
- Focus on the victim: rather than give all your attention to the child who bites, focus instead on the child who was bitten.
- Don't ignore it - it won't just go away.
- Do try and give your child the vocabulary to explain when or how they feel. This may help them to communicate a problem rather than lashing out.
- Keep calm and deal with the issue gently. If you are really concerned seek medical help.