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How to Reduce Biting in Toddlers

When it comes to dealing with the behavior of biting, it is important to deal with this new behavior before it becomes permanent. Here are some steps that can be done to prevent your child from biting

  • Step 1: Be calm and firm. Address your child with a firm and simple command telling him or her to stop biting. Making it clear to them that biting is wrong and remaining as calm as possible will help resolve the situation more quickly.

  • Step 2: Comfort the victim. Direct your attention to the person who has been bitten, especially if it's another child. If there is an injury, clean the area with soap and water. Seek medical care if the bite is deep or bleeding.

  • Step 3: Comfort the biter, if need be. Sometimes this biting behavior develops with no harmful intent of the biter and they don't realize that doing it hurts others. If this happens it is ok to comfort a child who's feeling upset about hurting someone. However, if the child is using the behavior to get attention, you don't want to reinforce this behavior by giving comfort and attention.

  • Step 4: Offer alternatives. When things have calmed down, suggest alternatives to biting, like using the words "no," "stop," and "that's mine" when wanting to communicate with others.

  • Step 5: Redirect. Distraction works wonders with kids this age. If emotions and energy levels are running high or if boredom has set in, help redirect a little one's attention to the more positive activity, like dancing to music, coloring, or playing a game.

Here are some ways to get your little one back on the right track:

  • Be consistent. Reinforce the "No biting" rule at all times.

  • Use positive reinforcement. Rather than reward negative actions with attention, make it a point to praise your child when he or she behaves well. You can use statements such as, "I like how you used your words" or "I like how you're playing gently" to reinforce positive alternatives to biting.

  • Plan ahead. Toddlers might be more comfortable and not feel the urge to bite if they know what to expect in new or high-energy situations. If biting happens at childcare, tell your child what to expect before you go.

  • Find alternatives. If biting is a result of negative emotions forming in the child, you can help your child find better ways to express negative emotions. For example, asking kids to "use their words" when they're frustrated or upset can help calm them.

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