I think all parents have found themselves in a situation in which they understand that they must find a way to change a child’s behavior; and, they recognize that they cannot MAKE the child stop. Toddlers who bite others are great examples of such a situation. If your baby bites another one of your children or you are being hurt or, worse, the child of someone else is being hurt, and you are about to lose your daycare.

One reaction that I have heard from frustrated parents is bite the baby back. Okay, let us think about that for a moment. What does that model? That people bite each other? Is this really what you want to teach? Any behavior that your child engages in and you imitate back is reinforced. It communicates to the baby that what they are doing is so wonderful that you will do it too. Just like them! I suggest that you reserve copying a baby for the behaviors that you want the baby to do more of — not less!

Based on my observations of our dog, animals bite when frustrated or scared or excited or feeling like they can get away with it. Toddlers are way more complicated and only a little bit more verbal. It is for this reason that some children bite. Thankfully, not all children go through a phase of biting as they learn to recognize and describe their feelings. The ones that do go through this are still pretty normal kids. And, parents must find some ways to stop that behavior, to give the child other tools for coping, and to make sure everyone is safe while they are learning.

Check out this article on how to help children who bite: Biting Questions.

What did you do to convince your toddle to stop a dangerous and understandable behavior?