Curbing Bad Behavior: Biting

bitingOnce bitten, twice shy.

Or in my daughter’s case, indefinitely shy.

And in my case, infinitely outraged.

Last year, my child was on the receiving end of a serious bite.  Not by a spider, a dog, nor a snake, but by a boy diagnosed with a developmental disorder.

My daughter’s bloody injury required emergency medical treatment.  Fortunately, her tetanus shot was up-to-date, so she wasn’t forced to endure a booster.

Despite the passage of time, the details of that traumatic day are still seared in my memory.  As I learned from the attending physician, human bites can be far more dangerous than those inflicted by animals because of the type of bacteria contained in the human mouth.

In most cases, children sustain human bites by their peers.  The bulk of this behavior occurs during the toddler years when children are too young to articulate their feelings and they turn to biting as a way to communicate their emotions.  Toddlers tend to bite when they overwhelmed, frustrated or want attention.

To break your child of this bad habit it’s vital to determine why your child is resorting to biting others, and then work to stop it.  This can be done in a number of ways:

Be Consistent:  One of the best ways to deal with a child who bites others is to be consistent with punishments.  Place him in a time-out, take away a favorite toy or discipline him in an appropriate manner.  Explain why you are doling out the punishment and follow through with the consequences.

Investigate:  If biting is a habitual reaction when your child is around certain people, do some digging.  Observe your kid as he interacts with his peers and see if his biting is a defense mechanism or something he uses as crutch when he is trying to communicate a want or need.

Practice Patience:  If you see your child bite another kid, don’t go ballistic and bite him back as a source of punishment.  Rather, exercise patience and self-restraint.  Then, teach by example.  Typically, this annoying habit can be broken with a little TLC.  After you explain to your child why biting is bad and follow through with a punishment, spend some extra time engaging with him one-on-one.  Use that time to teach him new ways to cope with his frustration or other emotional issues.

This entry was posted in Dealing with Phases & Behavior and tagged , , by Michele Cheplic. Bookmark the permalink.
Michele Cheplic

About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.