Hi Mortified Mum
This is totally normal behaviour at this age and lots of mums have been through this. Most children will have bitten another at least once!!! The first step is to try and find out why this is happening by looking for triggers just before they bite. By finding out what the underlying cause is you may be able to remove the cause or at least be ready to distract your child.
Simple questions you may ask include:
- What happened just before the bite?
- Who was your child playing with?
- Who was bit? Is it always the same child, or different children each time?
- What was your child doing?
- Where was your child?
There are a number of reasons why a two year old might bite, if they can’t cope with a situation, if they become overcome by fear, anger or frustration or they may also bite because someone bit them. In some cases it can be the toddlers way of showing love, toddlers can have intense feelings they do not know how to deal with.
What to do if a child bites another child:
Firstly make sure they are both safe by separating them both to a safe distance.
Help the child who was bitten, check for any damage to the skin and give lots of reassurance.
Stay calm and in a firm voice let your child know this is unacceptable behaviour making clear the result of their actions, for example, Ginny is crying because you hurt her.
Once the situation has calmed down, including you, try and talk to your child about why they bite the other child and suggest alternative actions. For example if ‘Fred tries to take you car away, tell me and I will ask him if you can play with it’.
Strategies you can use to help stop the biting include
- If you see your child about to bite whisk them away, try and remove situations which may trigger biting for example being in a big group of other children where they feel overwhelmed. If teething, make sure they have toys to chew on.
- Teach your child this is wrong. Remove your child clearly saying biting is wrong it hurts other children or a simple firm NO.
- Teach your child better ways of expressing themselves for example giving a hug if they like someone or holding up a hand if another child gets too close.
- Remember to praise your child when they are being good. ‘Its good to share’ and ‘well done for sharing’ are great ways of letting a child know they are doing something you want.
The vast majority of children at this age will grow out of this behaviour and find better ways of expressing their emotions.
Dr Emma Haycraft is a senior member of the the child feeding research team and a Senior Lecturer in Psychology at Loughborough University she is a co-creator of the Child Feeding Guide
Jill Wheatcroft is a Lecturer in Child Health and is co-founder and Director of Training at Riverside Cares. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org://www.riversidecares.co.uk and can create small group childcare know how sessions and first aid for families 2 hour sessions