Got a Biting Toddler?
One of the reasons toddlers do bite is that children are
Hi, my name is Dr. Julie Kolzet and I'm a clinical psychologist at Behavioral Associates in New York City. Today I'm going to be talking about biting in the toddler years.Many parents are alarmed and distressed by this behavior. What they may not realize, however, is that this behavior is quite common among toddlers and when I use the word toddlers I'm primarily referring to children around the ages of 2 or 3 years old. Understanding why a child bites and the circumstances surrounding the biting is really the first step in preventing the biting from occurring again. Also it helps the child learn alternatives to biting.One of the reasons toddlers do bite is that children are natural explorers: we call these children "experimental biters". Toddlers place food and toys in their mouths and one of the developmental processes that a child must go through is they must learn that in addition to toys people cannot be bitten. Similar to the experimental biter is the biter who imitates the behavior of others. Social learning is quite powerful and it makes sense that if a child sees one of their friends biting another classmate for example that he too might try that behavior out himself.There's also the child who bites out of frustration. This frustration may stem from a desire to express his or her thoughts or feelings. Another reason why a child may bite is to get attention. We know that a lot of children do like attention - especially attention from their parents. Many parents give a lot of attention to negative behavior such as biting, when they do so children can get the idea that biting is a good way to get attention.It is also very important to reinforce positive behaviors as well as the toddlers attempt to socialize in a pro-social, friendly way. This reinforcement should be given daily. Parents should also teach their children alternative ways of communicating through the use of hand gestures or simple words and phrases.For more information about biting during the toddler years, please visit About.com.