Featured in Pre-schoolers
Biting is a very common occurrence among pre-schoolers. There are many misconceptions that people have regarding biting. Even pre-school teachers have misconceptions and their responses may do more harm to the biter than good. Many people believe anger is the trigger for biting however, this is rarely the case when it involves pre-schoolers. Pre-schoolers may bite when they are happy and excited; and it is rarely pre-meditated or malicious.
Methods of Discipline
While biting is a stage that pre-schoolers will grow out of, it doesn’t mean that parents should ignore the behavior. There are plenty of things that parents can do to help the child get past this stage.
1. Preventing the behavior might be possible with some planning and paying close attention to your child when he or she bites. For instance, does the biting occur when your child is placed with a big group of kids or perhaps in situations when there is an excessive amount of stimulation? If you watch your child and figure out potential triggers, it may be possible to avoid certain situations where biting is more likely to occur.
2. Strictly supervising your pre-schooler when playing with other children may be somewhat difficult but may help. You may be able to physically intervene before the biting actually takes place. This strategy may be a short term solution but it might be all the child needs.
3. Be sure to positively acknowledge your pre-schooler when he or she makes an effort not to bite. This is incredibly important. A child needs positive reinforcement to make changes in her or her behavior. It can be quite difficult for a pre-schooler to change the way he or she acts in certain situations so it is paramount they receive some kind of positive reinforcement for their effort to change.
4. Try to pay attention to the child’s feelings at the time when he or she bites. When you have an idea of how the pre-schooler is feeling when he or she bites, show him or her another way of expressing that emotion. For example, if your pre-schooler is angry over a friend taking her toy perhaps say, “I see that you are angry. You don’t want Steven to take your toy away from you. Go ask Steven nicely to return the toy to you”.
5. When a biting incident has occurred, talk to your pre-schooler about what happened. Once he/she has calmed down (and you have too), find out what triggered the biting and try to offer different solutions as to what the child could have done instead of biting.
Helping Your Child Cope
While many parents get very worried when their child bites, it does not predict later social or emotional problems. It is common for children this age to act without thinking of the possible consequences. What often happens is that the child who bites someone is often just as upset and surprised as the person being bitten. With this in mind, try to keep perspective on what is going on. Remind yourself that biting is normal behavior for young pre-schoolers and often, the risk of injury is small – comparable to that of hitting or kicking. For some reason, biting is seen as more “wild” than kicking or hitting but really, it isn’t any worse.
As in many situations when dealing with young children, keep calm if your little one bites. If your child is feeling anxious and lashed out by biting, you yelling and getting upset will only make the child even more anxious. By staying calm and taking the child out of the situation, you can talk to him or her rationally and explain that the behavior was wrong. This method of dealing with biting will be much better in the long run than punishing your child.