Supporting biting behaviours

13 Feb 2024
Supporting biting behaviours Image

We know what you’re thinking, why would we want to support such behaviour? We know that young children’s biting behaviour can cause stress among families, early childhood professionals and children themselves. We understand this stress; however, we also know that traditional methods of “managing this behaviour”, really have no positive outcome for anyone involved.    

Biting is generally a temporary problem, occurring during the toddler stage, and rarely continues past the age of three.  It can’t be eradicated instantly and requires the skill, understanding and ongoing attention of educators and parents.   

Unfortunately, there is no magic cure. Traditional responses to children’s biting have involved punishment, withdrawal of affection, exclusion and even biting the child back. As time has gone on, we have an improved understanding of children’s development and why this behaviour might occur.   

It is important to understand that punishment won’t eliminate biting episodes and could even be detrimental to the child’s development and wellbeing. Adults should never respond with anger towards toddlers who are still learning to feel secure and confident; an angry response can damage their growing self-confidence and leave them feeling abandoned and unloved, cause confusion and an escalation of the unwanted behaviour.   

Whilst biting is problematic and distressing, with time and a consistent approach, it can be reduced. Professional development, in-house training or peer mentoring may assist you to build your knowledge, skills and confidence in dealing with biting behaviour. There are processes that can support the biters, the bitten, the parents and educators through this stage.   

Toddlers can and will, over time, respond to firm, verbal guidance without anger or withdrawal of affection. Our professional practice consultants have explored the below outcomes in our newly developed webcast:   

  • Reasons for children’s biting. 
  • How we do and should respond when children bite. 
  • How we work together to support children through a biting phase.