How to stop children from biting others

Many children begin biting as soon as they learn to crawl. Whether from teething, boredom or to gain attention a child will often bite others. Teaching children that this hurts and is unacceptable behavior isn’t always easy but it can be done with some patience and time.

How to stop children from biting:

Show your pain

The moment a child bites is the time to make sure they know that it hurts. No, don’t bite them back, but do tell them “Ouch! That hurts” immediately. Letting the child know it hurts is important. Biting them back simply teaches them that biting is acceptable behavior and in some cases can be considered child abuse so although this is tempting, avoid it at all costs.

Be firm

The moment a child bites is also the time to tell them to stop biting. Be firm about it and let them know that under no circumstances will it be tolerated. Take action immediately and show your disapproval. 

Time out

If a child continues to bite after they’ve been told not to, it’s time for a time out. Have a specific place to have the child sit during time out. Even young crawling children can be placed in a play pen for a short time for biting. With consistency and always doing the same thing if a child bites, the child will learn that they don’t like the consequences, and in turn this will reduce and eliminate biting. If the child is older and walking a time out chair or corner could be used in place of a play pen.

Behavior charts

For toddlers a sticker chart works wonders. Set it up as a weekly calendar and when the child behaves they get a sticker at the end of the day. Some parents like to give the child up to three warnings before they lose a sticker for the day. Being consistent will teach the child what is expected of them and help the child to succeed.

Playing with others

If a child is playing with other children, and bites a friend during play it needs to be stopped immediately. Step in and rescue the other child and then remove the biting child. Send the biting child to a time out or tell them they won’t be able to play with their friend any longer if they continue biting.

Teething children often bite to soothe sore gums. Offer a teething child something for the soreness and be extra watchful when they’re playing. Remember that hungry and tired children are more likely to bite as well so make sure to keep a close eye on children just before mealtime or nap time.