Got a Biter?
Here's Some Tips
Written by Pamm Clark
It's hard to admit, but, yes, I've had biters in my child care. There have been several months with no bites, a bite here and there, and the dreded days of bite after bite. Considering the ages of the children I care for, 2 years and under, it is to be expected.
Dealing with Toddlers
To reduce biting there are several things you can do:
Think Texture! Providing lots of textures reduces biting. Provide playdough experiences, water play, frozen toys and teethers, textured blocks, foam blocks, basket of cloth items to explore, tearing paper, etc.
If teething seems to be the cause, be sure to address this issue with teethers, frozen teethers, medication, etc.
If fighting over toys is the problem, provide more than one of the favorite toys. You may need to put away the most popular toys for now.
If the children seem overwhelmed, try decluttering the room and/or moving the furniture to reduce the congestion. Maybe put half the toys away for a while.
If the children seem tired, try offering soothing activies. Sometimes I let the kids put lotion on themselves (supervised, of course), playdough is soothing, quiet TV time with the room darkened, quiet music, etc.
Toddlers are not communicators, so working on language skills helps a lot. I find myself saying, "Use your words" all day long. Also, many times the children don't know what to say, so give them the words to say, like, "I would like a turn with the doll."
Dealing with Parents
The parent's reactions are varried from shock to understaning and everything in between. It's really the parents that are hardest to deal with when biting occurs.
Something I've found helpful is to let parents know exactly what happens when a bite occurs, and that you have a plan. I now give parents a Bite Policy upon enrollment. This does two things; lets parents know exactly what happens when a bite occurs, and lets them know that a bite may occur (so they aren't so shocked if their child is bitten).
If you have a chronic biting problem involving one or more child that goes on and on, I've found it helpful to give the parents a letter letting them know what my plan is to reduce the biting. Here's a sample of a letter I've handed out:
As you know, we have been struggling with a toddler biting issue. We are all worried and frustrated with it. I have been using standardized procedures to correct the problem and I have taken appropriate action by rearranging furniture, cleansing wounds of children bitten, confronting biters, redirecting their physical placement in the play area, and using the events to teach the children that “people are not for biting” and “to be nice to your friends.”
I have come up with a concrete plan of action to reduce the biting and would like to share this with you:
1. It seems the biting starts up when most of the children are teething. I will offer more teething toys, frozen teethers, and more food to chew on.
2. I noticed most of the biting occurring near the love seat. To correct this I rearranged the furniture to eliminate congestion of toys and toddlers near the room entrance.
3. Most of the biting happens when a child gets frustrated and doesn’t know how to express himself. I will work more on language development with the children so they will learn to “use their words.”
4. It seems most of the biting is occurring in the late morning or late afternoon. Both of these times are when the children seem tired right before nap or going home. I will implement more soothing activities during these times such as story time, video time, or other calming activities. I will also experiment with naps and perhaps move them earlier, if needed.
I will be trying these strategies for the next few weeks. As always, I will keep track of the biting to see if it decreases. Please bear with me. We know that positive actions work better than negative ones, and I’m doing my best to provide them. I have attached a Pamm’s House Biting Policy so you know exactly what happens when there is a bite.
Here’s what you can do at home to help if your child is one of the biters:
*Help your child develop language skills--teach your child words to say.
*Model appropriate ways to express feelings.
*Model caring, empathic behavior.
*Express disapproval for biting if the child bites at home, but please no lectures or punishment.
I know this has not been a pleasant time for you, and I appreciate your support as I work to stop the biting. Please feel free to discuss this or any other issues you may have with me. You are always welcome to set up an appointment to meet with me, email me, call me, or just take a few minutes to chat with me when you drop-off or pick-up your child.
Pamm's House Biting Policy & Bite Forms An excellent resource is:
This book is great to read
with the toddlers:
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