Biting is a typical behavior often seen in infants, toddlers, and 2-year olds. As children mature, gain self-control, and develop problem-solving skills, they usually outgrow this behavior. While not uncommon, biting can be an upsetting and potentially harmful behavior.
A child might bite to:
- Relieve pain from teething.
- Explore cause and effect (“What happens when I bite?”).
- Experience the sensation of biting.
- Satisfy a need for oral-motor stimulation.
- Imitate other children and adults.
- Feel strong and in control.
- Get attention.
- Act in self-defense.
- Communicate needs and desires, such as hunger or fatigue.
- Communicate or express difficult feelings, such as frustration, anger, confusion, or fear (“There are too many people here and I feel cramped”).
When a child displays undesirable behaviors, such as biting, DHC staff keep a record of the incidences. Caregivers use this information to evaluate the problem and plan a positive intervention. The intervention does not shame or punish the child, but rather teach the child how to get his needs met without using aggression.
Once pertinent information has been gathered, DHC staff will create a behavioral plan that typically involves direct, but non-interfering supervision based on proximity of the child to the caregiver. This caregiver uses the behavioral plan to re-direct the child when conditions for the behavioral triggers are present. Over time, this re-direction to other positive behavioral outlets creates a new behavioral pattern for the child.