Getting bit by your toddler or having your toddler bite another child can be very alarming. For the most part, biting behavior in toddlers is a fairly common phase. There are several different reasons toddlers may bite. They become frustrated easily because they haven’t learned to speak, therefore their communication is limited. In this case, biting is a frustration-release for them. Sometimes, they bite simply because they are teething. Other times, they bite to gain attention from you. Typically, biting begins around the age of 16 months and usually stops by the age of 3 when verbal communication is learned.
If you have a biting toddler, it is very important to teach that biting behavior is not acceptable behavior. First of all, stay calm and don’t overreact. Spanking or yelling at your toddler most likely won’t be of any help to the situation. Never bite your child back. Look your child in the eye and firmly say, “No biting! That hurts!” Make it clear that it is never alright to bite because it hurts. Toddlers are old enough to understand pain, even though they are just learning to talk.
If your toddler is biting playmates, supervise him closely around other children. This way, you can distract his attention if another child may want the same toy or interrupt any other behavior that may lead to biting. Try and keep group play to shorter periods. If he bites another child, remove him from the situation immediately and calmly but firmly tell him not to bite, that it hurts.
If you feel your toddler is biting due to teething, provide gel-filled teething rings, teething biscuits, frozen waffles or cold wash clothes for sore gums. Applying pressure to sore gums by biting something (whether it be a parent’s shoulder or a teether), helps relieve teething discomfort.
Praise your toddler when he controls himself and refrains from biting. Reward his positive behavior and remember to give him plenty of positive attention for this behavior. If you only give attention to negative behavior such as biting, toddlers quickly learn that biting is a great way to gain instant attention from you.