When My son was about 15 months old, he started biting his classmates at daycare. I was mortified. Biting is a common but unacceptable behavior in preverbal children. He would bite to show frustration or to get a toy. At the same time he started biting if he wanted my attention.
I worked with his teachers at daycare and instructed them to put him in timeout if he bit anyone. We did the same thing at home. Any biting was immediately followed by a firm loud “NO BITING!” and he was put in timeout for 2 minutes. After the timeout I would hand him a teether or his blankie and when he bit the inanimate objects he was not scolded. Every morning before he was dropped off at daycare, I looked him in the eye and held his face in my hands and said “NO biting.”
Tips to Prevent Biting
He stopped biting after we did this consistently for 2 weeks.
1. Use a stern unfriendly voice to say “NO BITING!”
You want your child to know that you mean business. Biting is not funny or a game. Stop your child if she looks as if she is about to bite
2. Give your child a 1-2 minute time out when biting occurs.
Following up with an immediate consequence reinforces that you meant it when you said “NO BITING!”
3. Offer an alternative to the biting.
Offering an alternative like a teether, allows your child to demonstrate frustration in a more constructive way.
Helping your child to communicate needs and wants might also lessen biting. For example using baby sign language, where your child uses simple gestures to indicate more, eat and drink can be immensely helpful.
4. Never bite your child
Many parents have told me that they just bite their children back. I don’t recommend this because it teaches the child that the bigger biter wins and that this is a socially acceptable way to behave. The child might not bite the parent anymore but might continue to bite smaller children.
5. Praise your child for not biting.
Your child wants to please you and showing praise for good behavior helps to reinforce the behavior.