The Parent-Teacher-Child Connection: Children and biting

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Children and biting

A friend asked me recently what to do about her toddler twin boys who bite each other.  Since my girls fortunately did not exhibit that behavior, I could offer little advice from experience, so I went to the expert - Google!  Although some advice I found was totally unrealistic, here's what I found that is helpful:

Generally, children bite out of frustration.  They know what they want and when they can't get it, they bite.  And certainly teething has some influence in biting to relieve the gum irritation.  Therefore, here are some suggestions:
  • Make sure their gums have teething gel on them when they look like they are biting down hard on their toys.  Their next victim will likely be their sibling.
  • Keep the twins separated when they are tired.  Frustration escalates in the evenings.
  • Redirect the biting to something more appropriate like a teething ring or an ice pop. However, make sure your clever children don't see this as a reward for biting!
  • Offer an acceptable substitute behavior like kisses.
  • Sometimes children, especially twins, are simply looking for attention because they have had to share parental attention since they were born. Remember to reserve quality time with each child individually.
  • When they get old enough to understand reason, help them to see how biting hurts the other person. Patience will be your best friend during this learning period.
  • Above all, try to resist the temptation to reward negative behavior with positive reinforcement.  In other words, when they do something bad like biting, simply separate the children without talking, scolding, or anything else that will give them attention.  They'll learn soon enough that biting won't get the desired reaction. 
Happy Parenting!

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