How to Stop a Toddler from Biting

By Marcia Hall

Parents are naturally fearful when their toddler begins to bite.  It often starts out as small experimental bites to just those who care for her the most.  These ordinary bites, which are usually called love bites, can be very painful and your toddler may transition into biting other things, people and even animals.  There are some ways you can stop your little one from hurting you and others from her bites.

Remain calm.  Your baby may be small, but her teeth are pretty sharp.  Her bite can take you by surprise and hurt a good deal.  The normal human response to pain is to yell or jump.  Do your best to avoid doing this, as it will only highlight the action to your child.  The more attention she receives from this action, the more often she is going to “practice” it.

Remove her from your lap or arms immediately.  If the biting progresses, you will need to remove her from your immediate presence for a short time without getting angry.  This will teach her that biting does not get her the attention she is seeking.  If you sense that she has started to bite you BECAUSE she wants you to put her down, then you can simply turn her body around so that she is no longer facing you. This will also remove her from your attention without giving into her frustration.

Use simple directions. “No bite mommy” is all you need to say, and you only need to say it one time.  Babies do understand the simple words you use most of the time.  However, when you repeat the same words over and over it loses meaning for her.  Stating your instruction with a strong clear voice one time is all that is needed.  Anymore and it will be more like yelling, which is just another form of attention.

Never bite your child back.  Though it can be tempting and may even seem like a natural consequence for your child, biting your child back in order to teach her how it feels will not help.  In fact, it will teach your child to bite out of anger.  Most likely at this point your child is simply exploring her world with her mouth and teeth.  She wants to see how it feels to put something other than food between her teeth and close.  With each bite, her brain learns something new or reinforces what she already knew.  When you get upset with your child for biting and bite her back, all it teaches her is that biting is something that can be done when a person is angry.  Your toddler cannot understand the connection between her bite and yours.  It does not teach her the lesson that you are hoping for and causes her a great deal of pain.

Find a replacement for you to give your child to bite.  Biting is a natural and normal explorative phase in life.  Most of the time, the techniques given will help your child to stop biting.  Occasionally, biting continues beyond this exploration or occurs in children older.  In this case, it is likely that your child has some type of physical need to bite.  Perhaps it is a control behavior she has learned helps her cope with the stresses in her life.  It could also be a sensory issue.  Some children are simply more orally fixated than others and need to explore with their mouth longer than their peers.  When this happens you will need to find some kind of replacement for living things so that your child can continue to fill the need she has for biting.  It should be something that you can keep with you always, because you never know when your child is going to have the sensation to bite you or someone else.  It should be soft and not harmful to her.  Then when your child bites or starts to bite you or others, pull out the object and say firmly, “Don’t bite mommy, bite this” and hand her the item.

Though biting is a normal phase of life, it can be scary to think of your child running around biting everyone or everything she sees.  However, the calm and focused attitude of her caregivers can help her to discover healthy ways to explore and gain the attention she needs.

4 Signs of Kindergarten Readiness

By Marcia Hall

While many parents want their children to follow the accepted schedule for development, kids tend to progress at their own rate. This means that their developmental rate doesn’t always match up with what is the conventional timeframe.   One child may be speaking in full and fluid sentences before she is two while another child does not have much to say until after three.  There is nothing wrong with either of those situations.  However, parents typically want their children to be ready for the challenges that school will bring.  There may be a number of standards your desired school requires for each child entering Kindergarten, but there are other criteria that are equally important for your child to achieve before she hits this big milestone.

Socially speaking, no five year old is going to get along well with everyone; even adults are unable to master that.  However, entering Kindergarten means that your child is going to need to have a basic ability to get along with others under normal circumstances.

Your child should:

  • Be able to engage and play with other children more than just playing alongside them.
  • Be able to respond to questions from other children.
  • Not be terrified when a person she is unfamiliar with talks to her, whether they are an adult or another child.
  • Be open-minded of other children, meaning that she has met and been around people that look and sound unlike her.

Physically speaking, most parents know that in order to enter Kindergarten their child needs to be potty trained, but the need for physical development goes beyond this.

Your child should:

  • Have the ability to sit still for at least the length of time it takes to read a picture book.
  • Have the ability to sit in his chair to eat his lunch by himself.
  • Be fully potty trained during waking hours and be able to wait a few minutes before using the toilet in case he has to wait his turn.
  • Be able to stay awake and alert for the time he is in school.
  • Be able to walk, run and throw a ball, though he does not have to do these well.

Emotionally speaking, children are learning to understand and communicate their emotions. Emotional readiness will give your child a good foundation for learning in Kindergarten.

Your child should:

  • Be able to be separated from you for the full time she is at school.
  • Be able to communicate what her needs are to someone, even if she does not know them.
  • Have an excitement to explore her world and learn new things.
  • Be able to ask questions concerning things she is unsure of or is curious about.
  • Be able to consider new ideas freely and creatively.

Mentally speaking, there are basic benchmarks the school you choose will most likely evaluate your child on.

Your child should:

  • Be able to hold a pencil and scissors correctly and use them appropriately.
  • Know what his name looks like and some of the letters of the alphabet by sight.
  • Know all his colors and shapes
  • Be able to count to 10 and recognize some of the numbers by sight.
  • Be able to match similar objects and understand why an object is different from another one.
  • Be able to do simple puzzles and understand how things fit together.
  • Be able to answer questions about his surroundings (Is that chair near or far, what color is that table cloth, etc.).

Many parents today push their children to be ready for Kindergarten.  They often think that a child should be reading, writing and doing math before they even enter the building.  However, Kindergarten is the place your child will learn to do those things.  It is more important to give your child the foundations of achievement in the form of social, physical, emotional and mental readiness.  With these foundations, your child will be on the right track to succeed in school for years to come.