It’s important to know that biting is sometimes an unavoidable behaviour for young children, and is not necessarily an indication that there is something wrong. When thinking about biting, remember to focus on both the biter as well as who has been bitten. It’s important to know how you can help in both situations.
There are various reasons including:
Young children may express frustration by biting when they are:
Educators work conscientiously to resolve and minimise biting incidents. They are committed to stopping biting, using a wide range of strategies developed for individual children.
Knowing each child well helps educators have an idea about what may be causing them to bite, and identify their specific triggers for biting. This helps them take steps to prevent the behaviour and avoid or minimise these triggers.
Educators use different strategies according to their understanding and analysis of the biting incidents.
Educators have a responsibility to inform you about biting incidents that involve your child, either if your child is biting or has been bitten. The service should keep the name of the child biting confidential from other families, including the family of any child that may have been bitten.
If you’re with your child when they bite, remove them from the situation or the activity, and remind them that it is not acceptable. Tell them calmly, “We don’t bite our friends/others, biting hurts.” Avoid giving them a consequence or punish them.
Talking with your child about biting, and how it makes the other person feel, is a great place to begin to help your child understand what has happened. You may also want to find out why your child is biting. Observe them and develop an understanding of situations that may lead to biting. You may also provide your child with a teething ring or toys that they can bite on.
If your child bites while at their education and care service, it’s important to work in partnership with the educators to ensure a clear and consistent approach is used. You will all need to support your child to learn to express their feelings using words. Be reassured that the educators will be working to support children learn positive behaviours as alternatives to biting. It is important to remember that biting is not your or the educator’s fault. Biting is common in toddlers and can sometimes be unavoidable when in a group environment.
You can also refer to our factsheet on developing children’s positive behaviour in education and care service for tips.