Thursday, May 16, 2013

Biting: A new parent's confession

Those teeth where made for chompin'!
When I was pregnant, I had visions of how my son would be…his accomplishments, his smile and laugh, all those cutesie things. I thought maybe if I visualized a son that didn’t throw tantrums, chuck oatmeal on the floor or bite his peers, he would be destined to be an angel child. It doesn’twork that way. No one wants to admit they have a problem child especially a BITER. Well, I write this blog today as the mother of a child that has a biting problem. For many weeks straight, I received a call from his school everyday, if not twice a day that he was biting. I was terrified, embarrassed and worried about how we could break this habit as quick as it started. I did some research, talked to other parents and his teachers and I am proud to say he has gone 8 days now without biting! It is a daily, even hourly struggle when you are going through it. You have to be on a constant lookout for those triggers so you can stop it. Persistence is key. Here are my collective tips I took away from my research but if you only remember one this from this post, know BITING IS A NORMAL BEHAVIOR OR PHASE FOR MOST YOUNGER CHILDREN. Don’t be embarrassed, it happens to the best parents.


  • Communication: Children under the age of 2 usually bite because of their lake of communication skills. They don’t have words yet to show that they are excited, tired, happy, hungry or upset. Just like you and I, they are filled with feelings they want to express and using their mouths is the most intuitive and easiest way to get them out.
  • Teething: It may be as obvious as teeth trying to come through. Biting down on something is a great way to relieve the pain of sore gums and little ones don’t know to discriminate on what that thing is until they are shown it is a negative action.
  • Emotions: Toddlers experiment with their emotions & feelings.  They don’t understand that something that feels good to them may not feel good to another toddler.They are constantly testing actions to see results and reactions. This is how they establish outcomes and help establish themselves as individuals with separate feelings from others. 
I didn't mean to bite, I just want to give you a kiss!!


  • Find the triggers: We found with Sawyer, it was never out of anger but from being overexcited and tired. He didn’t know how else to release his excitement but through his teeth. When he got really tired he would try to snuggle and would sometimes nudge and bite. Or sometimes just that he wanted to kiss us and he didn’t know the difference. Some other triggers might be: hunger, overstimulation or being crowded.
  • Be Proactive: If you have identified what triggers your child to bite you can intervene before a bite even occurs or be close by at those times.
  • Redirect and give Alternatives: Give them something else to focus their energy on like a toy or book.  I read a good quote that said “Toddlers are like two-ton trucks, when they get going with an idea, it can be hard to stop.” So the sooner you notice them wanting to bite the easier it will be to get them on to another activity. Taking them out of the situation all together is helpful too.
  • Let them know it hurts: Just like everything else, children have to learn that biting hurts. Don’t overreact but confront them in a stern voice right when they bite. Say things like: “That’s biting!” “Biting hurts, we do not bite people”. Make sure they see your disapproval and try to remove them from the situation. Give them an opportunity to help if they have hurt another. Comfort the other child so they can see the attention goes to the victim and not the biter.
  • Praise them for not biting: Everyday that I pick Sawyer up from school and he hasn’t bitten, I say “Great Job Sawyer on not biting, you’re such a good boy”. He may not know exactly what I am saying but kids are smarter than you think and he will start to relate the two.
Please don't bite me!!


  • In my opinion biting back is not an option. This sends a confusing message that it is not okay for children to bite but okay for a parent to do it.
  • Try not to overreact when they bite someone.This might make them want to bite again if they find the reaction to be exciting or funny.

NOTE: Remember I am not an expert just a curious parent. What I say may not work for everyone and don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have tried everything and your child continues to bite, contact your pediatrician. They might have some other options to help.

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