Biting is an aggressive behavior that alarms allot of Parents and Child Care Providers. It alarms the Parents of the child who bites, as well as frightening the child who is bitten and his parents.

Most often biting occurs during the ages of 1yr and 3yr and is definitely not "rare" in groups of young children. We can never know for sure just why a child takes to biting.

4 Possible reasons a child may bite:

*FRUSTRATED BITER......Frustration happens when a child doesn't have the verbal skills to express his needs. If another child takes his toy he may react with hitting or biting. If biting gets a strong response,
which often happens, they will figure that is a successful way to get their point across.

*EXPERIMENTING BITER..........It's no surprise that children experiment in their world by putting things in their mouth. Everything is tasted, licked and chewed on. Sometimes its a game for them, a game of "reaction".

*POWER STRUGGLE BITER........Sometimes occurs in the smallest of a family or group of children. The older children may seem stronger, or get more attention and this gives the younger child an "option" to seem more powerful in a situation.

*THREATENED OR STRESSED BITER......Pretty self explanatory here. A child may feel threatened in a new surrounding, away from parents. A child may feel stressed out because of  changes at home or in
child care. Divorce or other possible problems at home. A new sibling at home is another possible reason.

We've discussed possible reasons for children biting, now lets discuss how we handle the "bitten child".

*THE WOUND AND THE BITTEN CHILD: .........Wash the wound with soap and water to prevent infection. If it is an open wound cover. Apply ice to prevent or limit swelling. Console the child and explain that they
did nothing wrong. (Aids is not transferred through saliva unless the biting child had his own blood mixed with it. ) Alert the parents of the bitten child of this incident.

*Lets cover ways to prevent biting, and how to handle the biting child................
Never hit or bite a child back, or instruct the "victim" to do so. This only justifies in the child's mind that violence is ok!

Working together assures that both sides can see possible behavior that triggers the bite.

Look for patterns, does the child bite at the same times each time?
Does he bite the same child or adult?
Could the biter need an earlier lunch time? (hungry?) Or is the child tired? Over stimulated?

All biter's should be removed from the group and have explained to them in a firm voice that Biting is NOT allowed. And that they WILL NOT bite anymore. Explain that biting HURTS! We may discuss things like coming to the caregiver when there is a problem, or using your "words" to talk to your friends.

"SHADOWING" is very important when a child bites. Observing their behavior, possible patterns, and of course preventing when at all possible. Many times you can be right there and a child is so quick that the bite occurs before it can be stopped.
It is important to let everyone know that you are taking prompt action and that you are trying to eliminate this behavior as quickly as possible.

The key is understanding. Teaching a child the correct way to control themselves and express themselves is the key to developing good self esteem and independence.
submitted by: Precious Angels Daycare 2004

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