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Biting

What to do:

Self-talk. Say to yourself, “I don’t like that she bites and hurts someone else, but I can teach her other ways to express her feelings.”

Empathy. Ask yourself, “Wouldn’t I have a hard time expressing myself when I’m mad or upset if I didn’t have the language to do that or the ability to problem solve in non-aggressive ways? I know how my child feels!”

Teach. Young children learn very early that their new teeth are a powerful weapon that get an equally powerful reaction when used. However, being the parent of a child who bites can cause lots of problems for you and your child. The key to managing biting is to treat others with respect, which is best taught by treating your child with respect. Teach your child that biting hurts and there are other ways to express feelings with hurting others.

Tell yourself, “I can teach my child how to respect other and use words to express feelings. I know it will take time and patience, but he can learn to get what he wants without hurting someone".

Reprimand. When your child bites, say, “Stop. Biting hurts people. Tell your friend to share the toy.” When you do this, you are teaching your child how his behavior affects others and what else he can do.

Use Calm Time. When your child bites, say, “I’m sorry you bit Sara. Now we need to go to Calm Time. We need to think about ways to get what we want without hurting people. Then we can talk about other things to do when upset instead of biting.”

Use Grandma’s RuleTo prevent biting, set your phone timer for 5 minutes (or longer or shorter, depending on how long you think your child can play with another child without your motivating praise) and say, “When you have played nicely with Brian until the phone timer sounds, then we can read your favorite book together. You are getting along so well.” Offering a reward as an incentive for self-control discourages conflict.

Praise. When children are getting along, it’s important to praise their effort every few minutes. Simple statements, such as, “Good getting along,” or “You are playing so nicely together,” reminds them of the goal of getting along vs. fighting.

Teach compromise. When conflict arises, say, “Let’s find a way to let both of you play with that toy. I’ll use my phone timer to tell your friend when it’s your turn to play with it.” Your child can learn patience as she waits her turn, as well as, problem solving and compromise—instead of biting to get a child to give him what he wants!

What not to do:

Don’t hurt your child. Biting him back, spanking, slapping, are all behaviors you don’t want him to learn, so don’t use them.

Don’t overreact. Getting upset when your child bites keeps you from problem solving. Keep yourself calm by using calming self-talk. Say to yourself, “This is a problem we can solve. I just need to stay calm to do it.”

Don’t threaten. Threatening your child creates fear but doesn’t teach the behavior you want. Instead, simply say, “Let’s work on ways you can get what you want without hurting someone.”

The authors and Raised with Love and Limits Foundation disclaim responsibility for any harmful consequences, loss, injury or damage associated with the use and application of information or advice contained in these prescriptions and on this website. These protocols are clinical guidelines that must be used in conjunction with critical thinking and critical judgment.