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Biting - Topic Overview

What can you do about your child's biting?

Not all biting can be prevented. What you can do to reduce biting depends on how old your child is and why he or she bites. For example:

  • For teething babies, give them teething rings or a frozen washcloth to chew on.
  • For children ages 8 to 14 months, tell them that biting hurts other people. (Children this age are often not aware that bites hurt.) If your child bites you or someone else, react with a firm voice and say something like, "No! We do not bite."
  • For children ages 15 to 36 months, help them find other ways to express their feelings. For example, say something like, "Use your words to tell Susan that you're angry at her for taking your truck."

Learn to recognize the signs that your child is about to bite. You may be able to stop the biting before it happens if you can distract or redirect your child. Don't try to reason with young children or have long talks about biting. Use simple and direct language.

Positive reinforcement also helps. Praise your child when he or she shows behaviors that you want to encourage, such as sharing, being kind, or being patient. A reward can be as simple as giving your child a hug or a pat on the back and telling the child how well he or she is doing.

Be sure to model the behavior you would like to see in your child. Avoid angry outbursts, and set a good example by showing your child how to deal calmly with everyday frustrations. When a child bites:

  • Don't bite the child back to show how it feels to be bitten.
  • Don't wash out the child's mouth with soap.
  • Don't pinch, slap, or use other physical punishment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 21, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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