You just found the perfect daycare, and your little one loves it — until yesterday. The teacher met you at pick-up time to explain a biting incident involving your child. What can a parent do about toddlers biting at daycare?
A biting toddler is nothing new — it’s normal developmental behavior. Let’s have a look at why toddlers bite and how parents and caregivers can help.
Why Do Toddlers Bite?
Toddlers bite for many reasons. They may be teething, using their mouth to learn about a new object or toy, trying to get a reaction, or demanding more attention. These are all normal toddler behaviors, so there’s no reason to be alarmed.
Remember, children’s language skills are limited at this age, and biting can be a substitute for expressing fear or frustration when they can’t find the words to express themselves. It is a form of communication, but as language skills improve, the biting usually subsides — more so if this habit is addressed immediately.
What Parents and Caregivers Can Do About Biting
Punishment is neither necessary nor advised. Toddlers usually don’t realize they have done anything wrong or that biting hurts. Well-trained daycare teachers know how to stop toddlers biting at daycare in a positive way.
These strategies also need to be reinforced at home by parents and all caregivers, including older siblings. Here are some ways that people in the child’s immediate circle can help to stop toddlers biting at daycare.
- Deal with the biting child immediately and firmly (but calmly — don’t scream) with “No bite” or “Biting hurts.” You must be clear that biting is wrong and is not to be tolerated.
- Direct your attention quickly to the victim’s need for a quick cleanup, reassurance, or medical attention.
- If the biter seems upset by their own behavior, you may need to comfort them too. Try to determine the reason for biting by asking your child or the others in the room. Be careful that you’re not reinforcing unwanted behavior, like attention-getting.
- Redirect attention to a different age-appropriate activity or some quiet time in your lap.
- After calm is restored, suggest verbal alternatives to biting by giving them examples of more effective language. They can establish boundaries with others or get what they need by saying, “No, that’s my toy” or “Stop!” Older toddlers may be able to tell you, in their own words, what they’ll say if they are frustrated with a playmate. Nonaggressive alternatives will teach your toddler self-control.
- Help your toddler remember, with gentle reminders, what good behavior is and why it’s important.
In addition to these many proven intervention methods, reinforce good behavior by regularly reviewing the words they can use to communicate their needs without biting. Reward this behavior where appropriate with words of encouragement.
If this was not the first or even third time that a biting incident has happened, you might need to use a three- to five-minute timeout. A timeout may help your child understand why biting is not acceptable.
If biting continues past four years old, talk to your child’s doctor about it and ask for a therapist or child psychologist referral. Your child might be asking for help, and aggressive behavior might be the only way they know to communicate it.
Find the Right Education Partner for Your Toddler
Toddlers biting at daycare is not a new occurrence, but the right environment can teach better etiquette. If you need help finding childcare that reinforces positive behaviors, consider Cadence Education’s network of early education programs.
Cadence Education’s Toddler Care program specializes in skill-based education that sparks creativity in your child by introducing unique opportunities to express themselves. Cadence knows that toddlers are in a period of immense mental growth and physical development. Hence, its teaching methods are focused on patience and empathy while building confidence. Toddlers are eased into developing socially, emotionally, and physically through art, movement, music, reading, and active and safe outdoor play.
Cadence daycares are fully accredited and nationally recognized for their level of quality, both in terms of curriculum and teacher qualifications. You’ll have peace of mind knowing that your little one is receiving the best possible care and education, all day and every day, in a nurturing environment with qualified professionals who truly care about your child’s development.