How Do I Stop My Child From Biting at Daycare?

Reviewed on 6/18/2021

When your child bites at daycare, it may cause you lots of worry and embarrassment. Stop your child from biting in daycare by telling them it's not okay, encouraging them to express themselves with their words, giving them enough attention and time, making sure your child is not being picked on and using other strategies.
When your child bites at daycare, it may cause you lots of worry and embarrassment. Stop your child from biting in daycare by telling them it's not okay, encouraging them to express themselves with their words, giving them enough attention and time, making sure your child is not being picked on and using other strategies.

Every parent wants their child to be well-behaved. The concern is further raised when the child starts spending time away from the parents in daycare, school or other activities. Occasional mischief may be okay. However, when your child bites at daycare, it may cause you lots of worry and embarrassment. Parents may be frustrated because of this behavior from their little ones. You must, however, not feel embarrassed about it because if your child bites, it does not mean that there is something wrong with your parenting. Furthermore, it is not even an indication that your child will continue to stay aggressive when they grow up. A child biting at daycare does not imply that they witness violence or abuse at home.

Although biting is seemingly frightening and definitely painful for the one bitten, it may be because of various benign reasons, such as feeling frustrated, exploring the surroundings or stress. Some children may bite when they need to feel powerful or attract attention. In general, you can stop your child from biting by

  • Telling them firmly but calmly, “Do not bite, it hurts,” whenever they attempt to bite.
  • Asking them to express their feelings by using phrases, such as “Give me my toy” or “I am angry,” instead of biting.
  • Ensuring that they have enough sleep as well as food. Hunger and lack of sleep can make your child irritable and more likely to bite.
  • Giving your child enough attention and time. Plan activities with them or read stories to them to make them feel you are there for them.
  • Not insulting the child or using hurtful words to stop them from biting. Explain to them in simple and firm words. For example, you may say “You looked angry. It is not okay to bite when you are angry. It is okay to ask for your teacher’s help when you are angry.”
  • Deviating your child’s attention to something else, such as a book or a toy, when they are angry.
  • Not biting your child to make them realize that it hurts. This will not stop them from biting. It will rather foster violent behavior in your child.
  • If your toddler bites because of teething, give them a safe thing to bite, such as a teething ring.
  • Try keeping playtimes short and playgroups small.
  • If your child bites someone, take your child away and explain to them that they should not bite.
  • Sometimes, children bite when they are being constantly mocked or “picked on” by others. Talk to the daycare in charge and ask them to find out whether this is the case. Try to make your child feel protected.
  • Trying to find out what provokes your child to bite. Some children bite when they are stressed or in pain. Finding and treating the cause is essential to stop your child from biting anyone.
  • Giving a time-out to your child or taking away their favorite toy or activity when they bite may also help.
  • Praising your child every time they do not bite or listen to your request.
  • If your child bites repeatedly despite all measures, consult a doctor or child counselor.

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References
American Psychological Association: "Biting Questions." https://www.apa.org/monitor/2011/02/biting

Stanford Children's Health: "Biting." https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=biting-90-P02180

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