Toddler biting is one of those especially puzzling child-rearing issues. The toddler years are crucial for the development of language, motor and social skills. As children begin to interact more actively with the world around them, they have the opportunity to sharpen all of these skills, but they may also demonstrate some challenging toddler behavior problems. A very common one is — cue the Jaws theme song — biting.
Toddler biting is a problematic behavior because it can inflict damage very quickly, even though the child who bites is more than likely not intending to hurt another child. Most day care centers and schools have firm policies in place to deter repeat biting. Parents should be alert, but not overly worried, as those first bites are inevitable and don’t yet signal a problem. “Biting and hitting are totally normal behaviors for a toddler,” says pediatrician Michel Cohen. “If you give these events minimal attention and enforce boundaries properly, you won’t see more than a few exploratory bites.”
If your toddler decides to persist, make sure not to refer to him as a “biter.” Labeling a child will only perpetuate the behavior. Instead, here are some toddler biting solutions for repeat offenders.
It is helpful to put yourself in your child’s shoes and try to guess what causes her to bite. Is she trying to communicate something but unable to? Is she finding it difficult to accomplish a task and getting frustrated? Observe the environment in which the biting tends to occur and the time of day. Perhaps the child is overwhelmed by the surroundings or too tired to engage in social contact.