Why do children bite?
Children bite to cope. They may be overwhelmed with a situation or trying to meet their needs. Understanding why this behaviour is happening will help you figure out what you can do about it.
Some common reasons why young children bite is that they:
- do not have the language skills to express how they are feeling, frustration, anger, joy, excitement
- are overwhelmed with their surroundings, loud noises, and lights
- want to see what will happen if they bite; they are learning
- are overtired
- are teething
It is not helpful to give harsh punishments or bite your child back. There is no research to support the idea that biting back changes anything. Biting back teaches children that it is okay to bite people if they are frustrated or upset. There are things that parents and caregivers can do to lessen or stop this behaviour.
Check out the book “Teeth are Not For Biting” by Elizabeth Verdick, available at NL Public Libraries!
What can I do about it? (click to expand) »
Think about what happens right before your child bites. Ask yourself:
You may be able to find the cause and act to prevent it in the future.
If you notice your child is about to bite, you can:
What should I do if my child bites another child? (click to expand) »
Remember that learning a new behaviour takes time. If the things you try don’t seem to be working then rethink the situation and try again. Talking with other parents, learning about child development, and reaching out to professionals and other community supports may help.
Services related to this information:
- Contact your Public Health Nurse or healthcare provider to discuss your child’s behaviour.
- Contact your local Family Resource Centre for parenting programs and support.
- Visit your local library to check out some helpful books.
- 811 HealthLine (Newfoundland & Labrador) – Call 811 or 1-888-709-2929 / TTY 1-888-709-3555