Do you have a biter?

May 24th, 2013

Thanks for your overwhelmingly positive response to the email we circulated a few days ago, KEEP KIDDIE CANINES IN CHECK. We were glad so many of you could enjoy a nervous giggle about such a serious and frustrating topic that gets our youngest children kicked out of school. Biting is a serious matter and children’s teeth (especially those canines) can be sharp and painful…

Where does biting come from and more importantly what can you do to prevent it from happening at home or at school?

Children may bite to relieve the pain of teething: one solution, find alternative items for children to use as their teething ring. Try something cold such as a spoon or a frozen washcloth.

Children use their mouths to explore and learn about their environment. Sometimes biting is part of that process. Best we can do is to understand this is a part of development and pay closer attention when there is another young child nearby and be there as a buffer to create physical distance between the children.

Biting elicits a grand emotional response. You are a child’s first toy of choice! Think about all the unique reactions and responses people provide a young child learning about their world. ‘What happens when I do that again?’… may be a way for a child who is bored, needs feedback from the environment, or is just plain curious to explore cause and effect. Provide objects, toys, and opportunities for positive interactions and feedback from the environment.

Children may bite when they are angry or frustrated and do not have the words to express what they are thinking or feeling:

Everyday, help children develop their vocabularies by describing what they see, hear, taste, touch and smell. It’s okay to hold up both sides of the conversation at the beginning. Eventually, with practice, children will have more words, fewer tears and less need to use undesirable behaviors to express themselves to get what they need.
Teach young children some sign language to assist them in expressing their needs, wants or wishes as their language continues to develop.
Provide enough like (similar) objects. Young children are not ready to share.
Pay attention and observe when a child bites (Time of day? Feeling ill? New toy? Another child who stands too close?) Be ready to step in and disrupt the pattern by diverting attention, teaching children how to provide enough space, or insuring nap time is on time.

Important to note here, remember to comfort the victim, first. We do not want to inadvertently provide positive reinforcement for bad behaviors.

Lastly, as children’s first teachers, we have a responsibility to exercise inordinate patience. It’s okay to express our frustrations out loud with trusted friends or colleagues. That doesn’t make us bad people, just emotionally healthy people trying to do one of the hardest jobs on earth.

We say what you are thinking and would love to hear your thoughts!