During toddlerhood (ages 1 year - 3 years) it is developmentally appropriate for toddlers to try out the tricky behavior of biting.
This is normal.
Toddlers, especially while they are still gaining their verbal language skills, are working to navigate through the world around them. While also figuring out their own autonomy alongside their peers.
Toddlers bite for many reasons. They are curious. They are copying others. They are expressing emotion (angry, excited, or frustrated). They may also be teething and want to bite something and the closest thing is another child.
Biting is a behavior, just as any other, that they will test. They begin to notice that interesting things occur when they bite. They get adult attention. The other child screams & cries . They may be able to get the toy they were seeking. Biting, to them, may be a way to make things happen. And it’s an exciting cause and effect opportunity.
As their caregiver it is our job to help them safely explore the world and express their emotions, in ways that are promoting healthy self regulation and are not harmful to themselves or others.
As for biting there are many ways we work to stop incidents of biting.
•bites are stopped before they happen whenever possible. We always work to put ourselves as close to children when a conflict arises. In the case that a child is moving close, with an open mouth, toward another child We will put our hand between their mouth and the other body to stop the action from happening.
•We will also say, loudly “Stop! I see you are very [mad - upset - angry] but biting hurts. I’m not going to let you bite”.
•If We notice someone seeking out the need to bite, we will offer many other safe opportunities for them to do so. Offering ice packs and teethers is also a helpful distraction and can give the child the stimulus that they are craving. We will also give them positive feedback when We notice they are chewing on objects to help reinforce that some things are okay to bite/chew.
If you ever have concerns about your child as the biter or the bitee please do not hesitate to reach to discuss his very natural growth opportunity.
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