My Best Parenting Advice: “Please Stop Biting” By Blythe Lipman

Dear Blythe,why-children-bite-other-children

I hope you can help me. I have a three-year-old daughter that just started preschool two months ago. I love the school and as well as her teachers. They are all great. But Josie, my daughter, started biting some children in her class. Her teacher tells me she has bitten the same two little friends a few times. While I don’t know who they are, I am so embarrassed and don’t know what to do. 

Josie’s teacher has talked to her and so have I, but this behavior still continues. I hope you can help, as the school will not allow her to stay if this doesn’t stop.

Joan (a worried mom)

Dear Joan,
I know how embarrassing and frustrating this can be. Some toddlers go through a biting stage.  Here are a few things to consider:

  • Is Josie biting the same time each day?
  • Is she getting her molars?
  • Are they any big changes that have just occurred? A move, new sibling, etc.?
  • Is she getting enough sleep?
  • Is preschool her first experience away from home?
  • If preschool her first experience playing with other children?
  • Does Josie want attention
  • Does she want to be in-charge?
  • Is she just curious?
  • Does she have a limited vocabulary to say what she wants? 

Here are some tips to help:

  1. If the biting occurs the same time each day, she may need a snack. Check with her teacher about snack times. And make sure her breakfast has some protein, an egg, cottage cheese, etc.
  2. If she is constantly putting things in her mouth as well as biting, Josie may be cutting her molars and they can hurt. Her first trip to the pediatric dentist might be in order. And you can also give her some baby acetaminophen after checking with your pediatrician.
  3. If some life changes have just occurred, make sure Josie’s teachers know about them. They may be able to make some changes while she is at school until this stage passes. For instance, letting her help set the table for snack, taking her turn being line leader or other activities that provide positive reinforcement.
  4. If this is Josie’s first experience away from home as well as playing with other children, she may not know the rules. Biting sometimes happens out of frustration. Wanting a toy, no being able to use her words, as well as learning to share. Sharing is not always an easy concept at this age.  When a toddler wants a toy, she wants it now and that’s when biting may occur. Try planning some playdates at your home and use a kitchen timer to take turns playing with a toy.  There’s A Whole Lot Of Playing Going On in my book, Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions is full of other great tips.
  5. And if Josie is not getting enough sleep, her she may have a short fuse with lots of frustration. Try putting her to bed a half hour earlier each night.
  1. Buy a few books about biting and read them with your toddler. Two great books I recommend are Teeth are not for Biting by Elizabeth Verdick and Marieka Heinlen and No Biting by Karen Katz.

Teaching your toddler about acceptable behavior is not always an easy task.  And please don’t be embarrassed or think you’re a “bad mom.” This is a normal behavior for many toddlers as they begin to try out their independence. But with your patience, understanding, perseverance and love, this too shall pass. I promise.

Blythe Lipman, President and Founder of Baby Instructions based in Scottsdale, Arizona, is a nationally recognized baby and toddler expert, a parenting consultant, an author of three award-winning books, Help! My Baby Came Without Instructions,  More…Help! My Baby Came Without Instructionsand Help! My Toddler Came Without Instructions, a teacher, a caregiver, a keynote speaker, a blogger AND host of Baby and Toddler Instructions, a weekly Parenting Internet talk radio show which airs live every Wednesday at 11:00 am EST on itunes and toginet.   She is owner of the online parenting magazine My Best Parenting Advice and the site Baby Instructions.

For lots of tips to help make those toddler years easier, check out Help My Toddler Came Without Instructions