One of the great challenges of parenting kids is finding out about all the ways they can get into trouble when learning to relate to the world around them. Kids learn a great deal about their world when they are with their siblings or when they are out among others, especially other kids. These are times of learning through experiencing and kids will do just about anything to discover their world.
For parents of younger children, this can be a time of great anxiety because a parent may never know what to expect next. Some kids will be satisfied with a simple “no” or “stay away from that.” Then there are the kids, like mine, who want to experience everything to the fullest extent with no concern for life or limb.
Meet “Randy the Biter“
A close associate of mine had a five year old that she would occasionally bring to some of our business meetings. At first, I figured this kid was a typical young boy, a bit rambunctious and noisy. When we first started our meeting on one particular Saturday, I remember he was only a slight distraction at first.
Randy’s mother noticed that the conference room had become very quiet and we all realized that Randy was not making any noise. His mother panicked as she thought Randy had perhaps left the conference room and was wandering through the building. Quite suddenly, Randy’s mother abruptly screamed out Randy’s name as she bolted upright in her chair. Randy had quietly made his way under the conference room table and bitten his mother’s leg.
Know the Many Reason Kids Bite
Most kids that bite aren’t biting to be mean or malicious, but there are some good reasons that kids do bite. Younger children usually bite because they are teething and may be in pain. For these kids, anything is considered a teething ring. Younger kids also bite because they are discovering the world around them. Some kids use their hands, some kids use their mouths.
Other kids, like Randy, bite because they’re looking for some sort of reaction. Biting down on another child or even an adult will naturally evoke a strong reaction and some kids like to see this reaction. These kids don’t realize that they’re causing pain to others. Finally, some kids bite because they are frustrated. Like hitting or acting out, biting is a way for these kids to assert themselves and relieve frustration.
Here’s How Parents Can Put an End to Biting
For babies and toddlers, patience and understanding are critical. Make sure to have plenty of teething rings or even a cool, damp washcloth standing by in the freezer to use as a soothing aid in teething. For kids that are a bit older, make sure to avoid any situations that you know will make the child irritable or frustrated and cause them to bite. Before your kids are around other kids, make sure they are fed and well-rested. Make sure to have a snack on hand if your child might get cranky from hunger.
When kids get old enough to talk, start to encourage them to use their words rather than lash out by biting. Some parents of biting kids may also encourage them to punch or yell into a pillow or stuffed animal. Plan shorter activities and closely supervise your kid’s activities in order to avoid possible frustration or stress.
All kids are different and sometimes kids who bite just need more attention from parents. Perhaps spending more time with your kids reading or playing together will help to prevent kids from biting just to get attention from those around them. If biting still continues, be sure to pay close attention and be ready to step in as soon as the biting behavior is likely to occur. Even with close supervision, biting incidents may still occur. In this case, calmly but firmly let your child know that biting is unacceptable and remove them from the situation.
Getting educated about the reasons your kids bite is good parenting and half the battle. Some folks may advise biting your kids to show them it is painful. Since kids learn by imitation, this is probably not a good idea. Your child might get the idea that since you’re doing it, it’s OK for them to do it, too. If the biting behavior continues to bite others after the age of four or five years old, it may be a sign of a more serious emotional problem and you may want to consider seeking help from a qualified professional.
WebMD.com; Stop Children From Biting
iVillage.com; How can you keep your toddler from biting?