As I entered the classroom to select up my daughter, I knew instantly from the look on the trainer’s face that one thing was fallacious. The combination of nervousness and hesitation indicated I used to be about to obtain some unhealthy information.
Earlier than I might even take a look at the incident report, I believed, “Oh no, who did she chunk in the present day?”
When my daughter was a toddler, she put the whole lot in her mouth, together with different children’ arms. It was so embarrassing, and I wanted I might discover a strategy to get her to cease biting.
Deep down, I didn’t suppose scolding or punishing her would make a lot distinction. Toddlers reside within the second, and they’re wildly impulsive. However I nonetheless wished to guard her from the stigma of being a biter. It was necessary to me that she be a welcome and joyous member of her classroom. Admittedly, I additionally wished to cease worrying on daily basis about when or who she would chunk subsequent and the right way to get my little one to cease biting.
Why is My Baby Biting?
Of all of the irritating, regarding, and difficult behaviors younger kids present, biting may get dad and mom probably the most riled up. Is it as a result of others decide a “biter” as uncontrolled, imply, or aggressive? Is it as a result of we’re afraid of what comes subsequent if our little one is biting proper now? Or is it as a result of we predict our little one’s habits straight displays our parenting?
You aren’t alone when you’ve been considering of any of these issues. These ideas would stress out any mum or dad who sees their little one chunk another person. We bounce to conclusions about what biting says about our little one (or us), so let’s decelerate and contemplate some very actual and typical causes that kids chunk. Then you may tailor a method in line with the underlying explanation for the habits.
Prime-Down vs. Backside-Up Conduct
In her e-book Past Behaviors, little one psychologist Mona Delahooke describes behaviors as “top-down” or “bottom-up.” She defines top-down habits as “the results of considerate intent.” She factors out that such a “effortful management of consideration, impulses, and behaviors” doesn’t start till round three-and-a-half or 4 years.
What’s occurring earlier than then is sort of solely bottom-up habits, which Delahooke defines as “reflexive, automated responses . . . and don’t contain acutely aware thought,” and so they “emerge not from intention however subconsciously.” 1
It is a large reframing of how we interpret a toddler or preschooler’s habits. If we cease blaming a baby for biting, as in the event that they did it intentionally, we will take a look at what prompted the automated response.
Younger kids are naturally curious, and a method they find out about their world is thru their senses. A baby’s sensory system continually collects details about mild, colour, form, sound, texture, gravity, and stress. Kids’s sensory wants and tolerance range, which ends up in looking for or avoiding sure stimuli.
Some kids have a stronger want for oral sensory enter, which suggests they should expertise the world by way of their mouths. As adults, we might discover this inconvenient, disgusting, or embarrassing, however for the kid, it’s simply how they function on the planet. If you happen to discover your little one mouthing numerous objects or sucking their fingers, along with biting, your little one might have a stronger want for oral stimulation.2
When that is the case, you may supply your little one protected and acceptable options to satisfy their want for oral stimulation: specifically designed sensory chew sticks, sucking a thick liquid by way of a straw, blowing bubbles with a straw, or blowing right into a kazoo or whistle are just a few examples of serving to fulfill this want.
One other important element of kid growth is the flexibility to speak. Younger kids be taught to speak by way of facial expressions and cries, gestures, and phrases. This studying course of takes time, and when a baby doesn’t really feel understood, they will understandably really feel fairly annoyed.
A annoyed little one will specific that feeling by way of a bottom-up (reflexive) habits like screaming, hitting, pushing, or, you guessed it: biting. If you observe your little one biting, contemplate what occurred earlier than that second. Was your little one making an attempt to do, get or say one thing with out anybody validating their try to speak?
If biting is a sample on your little one, contemplate protecting an in depth eye on them to note when frustration is beginning to rise and verbalize guesses about what they’re making an attempt to perform. Your empathy for his or her expertise might be the best way to reduce their frustration and their instinctive response to chunk.
Infants and younger kids are extremely perceptive, and their brains are wired for a single aim: survival. That is the intuition that drives infants and toddlers to attach with their dad and mom by way of social interactions, and it’s the identical intuition that drives all of us to defend ourselves from any hazard, actual or perceived.
When kids play collectively, they sense and react to private area and the way protected they really feel. If one thing disrupts their sense of security, like one other little one taking a toy, the kid will reply with a defensive response, like pushing, yelling, hitting, or biting.
Just like the earlier situation, step one in serving to your little one cease biting is to look at the precursor to that habits. Relatively than admonish the kid for biting, we will assist the kid by adjusting the setting to reduce perceived threats. That is the aim, and in sure conditions (like a busy classroom stuffed with impulsive toddlers), any little one will inevitably have breaches of security.
A baby who’s biting as a response to emphasize wants soothing and luxury from a trusted grownup, not punishment or reprimands. Viewing the biting habits as a name for assist can deliver a extra compassionate and tender response from adults. Empathy and luxury would be the finest technique to forestall extra biting moderately than admonishment.
My standard method with my daughter was a agency and direct reminder: “No chunk, no!” I believed this was the simplest technique to show my daughter that biting was not okay. I had no thought I used to be lacking many items to the puzzle. I want I had responded with extra empathy and compassion whereas trying deeper into why she was biting.
If I might do it over again, I might experiment with assembly her sensory wants, easing her frustration in being misunderstood, and minimizing surprises in her setting. And I might let her realize it was not her fault she was biting and that I might do my finest to forestall the stressors inflicting that habits. I additionally would have instructed her I beloved her after every incident and would all the time be there to assist her.
Think about Skilled Assist for Your Baby
If you’re involved about your little one biting and the right way to get them to cease, contemplate getting assist from different professionals. Discuss to your little one’s trainer and pediatrician to share your observations. Think about getting additional assist from a play therapist, occupational therapist, speech therapist, or little one psychologist. Every professional brings a special perspective that contributes to supporting the kid once they work as a workforce.
Mother and father and educators have extra sources than ever to shift their views to deal with the kid’s expertise. Selecting to see the entire little one can finally cut back these undesired behaviors. Letting go of controlling the habits opens up alternatives to raised perceive our youngsters. It additionally strengthens the relationships that assist them, it doesn’t matter what.
1. Delahooke, M. (2019). Past behaviors: Utilizing mind science and compassion to resolve kids’s behavioral challenges. PESI Publishing & Media.
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