Cause - If a child is not sufficiently stimulated or activities don't reflect their interests (for example, a child with a transport passion may just not be interested in puzzles) they may bite due to boredom.
Suggested response - Reflect on your environment - does it consider your child's interests? Is it varied enough? What could you adjust, change or add? Pay attention to when and what your child engages in and try to offer more of that activity, toy or equipment. Perhaps change the activity more frequently.
Cause - A young child may bite to get attention from their family or educator. Some children need more attention than others and aren’t able to differentiate between positive and negative attention. Things like biting, scratching or hair pulling can be a way of getting noticed by others.
Suggested response - Ensure your child gets regular, warm, nurturing, one-on-one attention - especially when it’s associated with positive behaviour. Try to ignore negative behaviour. This will reinforce with children, the idea that positive behaviour gets the best attention.
Cause - Young children don't have the ability to recognise the consequences of their actions and may act impulsively. Even appearing surprised at the result of their actions. Sometimes children bite simply because they can.
Suggested response - Respond to biting in a consistent way that discourages the behaviour, such as "Don't bite. Biting hurts." Ensure your response doesn't give too much attention to the biting child, therefore, unintentionally strengthening the behaviour. Model alternate behaviours, like holding up your hand to signal STOP!
Cause - Young children often use biting as a way to communicate or release big feelings, like anxiety, emotion, tension or insecurity. It may be in response to stress around them. If you suspect anxiety as an underlying cause, it's worth questioning any changes at home, in routines, or in a care environment. Examples might include being recently weaned, a new baby at home, moving into a new room in their daycare service, or anything that may feel different for the child.
Suggested response - Try to determine the source of the anxiety. Make use of a comfort item, like your child’s blankie or special toy. It’s a physical reminder of support. Offer soothing activities such as water, sand play, soft music, favourite lullabies and quiet time songs or stories. Consider massage or aromatherapy or basic mindfulness. Keep routines predictable so your child feels safe and secure. Even sketch out a daily plan of your child's day and run through it with them the night before, or during a quiet moment at the start of the day, eg/ breakfast > playgroup with mummy > nanny's house for lunch, etc. This way they’ll know what to expect during their day.