Aside from piranhas, kids bite too! While we are familiar with kicking, hitting and throwing tantrums – biting is also a behavioral issue that ranks high on the list of problem behavior amongst children. Kids bite because they are easily frustrated, and they can’t vent negative emotions properly yet. For others, biting is an act of self-defense especially when they feel that they are losing a battle against an equally competitive playmate. Young kids also bite because it’s a surefire way of getting attention.
For kids who bite, each member of the family is a vulnerable prey but when the behavior persists and these adorable tots start attending school, their next victim is possibly a classmate. If you don’t want to find yourself in an awkward situation in your child’s school, start addressing this negative behavior as soon as you can.
When a child misbehaves, the usual reaction of parents is to ignore the behavior so that a child is discouraged to use the same tactics in getting attention. However, there is a limit as to how long you need to ignore the behavior because at times this strategy is not applicable to everyone. If your child continues to bite despite ignoring the behavior entirely, it’s time to start looking for a pattern.
If your child’s “biting” episodes are usually triggered by tiredness or hunger, you can already take action and prevent such instances from occurring. Sometimes your child’s behavior may also be triggered by a person so getting issues settled with whoever is concerned can prevent biting instances to happen again. Kids who are under great stress or who are undergoing some kind of transition like a move, a new sibling, or a new school can also trigger biting. During these instances, give your child what he needs and give him that much needed extra love and support.
At playtime, the usual cause of quarrels is sharing because kids are not born sharers. If during playtime your child bites another kid, give more attention to the hurt child and show him what he has done. Get him to apologize and take him out of the stressful situation so you can talk to him privately. He has to realize that biting can inflict pain and it is not acceptable no matter what the circumstances are. Keep a watchful eye on your “biter” during playtime so that you can intervene when things get heated up.
And since your child looks up to you as his role model, respond appropriately when it happens. If you allow your emotions to get the better of you and choose to bite back to teach your child a lesson, you are only showing him that biting is very much acceptable. So the next time you get bitten, take the high road and respond properly – even if it hurts!
Guide your child on how he can translate negative feelings into words. If he can talk and say, “I don’t want my sibling to mess up with my toys”, it can help him gain control of pent up emotions because he will feel some sort of release. I have effectively taught my five year old daughter to write me letters when she’s dealing with negative emotions. The spelling of many of the words may be incorrect but her drawings can easily reveal the emotions that she is dealing with. Many times I am the recipient of hate notes containing broken hearts and crying kids, but it has been a very effective strategy in getting her to snap out of her anger or misery in record time. For young kids who can’t write yet, getting their feelings out in the open through words are more than enough to appease raging emotions.
When you notice your child control his anger in a compromising situation, praise him for his efforts. It means that he’s trying to come to terms with strong feelings and it may already be a step closer towards bite-free play dates and school days. What strategies have you applied in getting your child to stop biting?