How to Stop My Child From Biting

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Little is more embarrassing for a parent then when your child bites another child. While your young baby may bite you, or anyone or anything within his reach as a means of exploring and discovering his world or to minimize teething pain, toddlers and preschoolers who bite often do so out of frustration and anger. While biting is not uncommon among children, after 18 months of age, it can become a serious problem if your child continues to bite. Fortunately, with your help, your child can stop biting.

Step 1

Communicate that biting is not acceptable. Even if your young child does not understand that biting hurts and it not appropriate, it’s important to enforce constantly that biting is not okay. If you see your child going to bite someone, look her in the eyes, point your finger at her and say in a calm but firm voice, “No biting. Biting is not OK.” If your child does not understand the words, she will get the message that you are not happy with her behavior by your voice and body language.

Step 2

Watch for triggers. Since your child may bite out of anger or frustration, when he is playing with others, closely watch for signs of anger or frustration and intervene if you see them. Preventing your child from biting is one way you can stop it.

Step 3

Teach your child what teeth are for. Instead of focusing on what you cannot do with your teeth, teach your child what you can do with them. Explain that teeth are for chewing food, brushing and biting into hard foods, like apples.

Step 4

Give your child alternatives. If your child is biting because he is mad, help him express his anger in other ways. Teach him to use his words, rather than his teeth for communicating his feelings. Since young children do not always have the words, teach him what words to use. For example, if your child is angry and about to bite a friend who knocked over his blocks, intervene and say, “I know you are angry, but when we are angry we say, ‘I am angry.’ We don’t bite.”

Step 5

Use time-out. If your child is caught biting, immediately send her to time-out. Firmly tell her that “Biting is not acceptable,” and send her to sit on the floor or bottom of the stair for one minute for each year of her age.

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