Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Toddlers and Biting

This video is hilarious! I could watch it over, and over, and over again.

However, most parents may not find this behavior very funny.
Here are a few tips on toddler biting; just in case you find that you relate too well with Charlie's older brother.

Why do toddlers start biting?
At around 18 months old, toddlers are gaining vast amounts of knowledge from their environment. This is a wonderful thing, except when they start to pick up undesirable behaviors from the neighborhood children, or the aggressive child at the park. Sometimes toddlers will simply imitate the behaviors they learn from other children.
According to T. Berry Brazelton’s Touchpoints, another reason that toddlers bite is lack of self-regulation, or self-control. At this crucial age, toddlers are learning to control their emotions and feelings.  When they were newborns they were incapable of controlling their emotions, but at around 18 months they are learning how to self-regulate (control their emotions, feelings, actions, etc.)
Parents may feel embarrassed or worried when their child becomes the perpetrator in a biting incident.
However, most toddlers go through this self-regulation development stage of biting, hitting, pushing, and/or scratching; so there is nothing to be embarrassed about.  At this age, these behaviors do not start out as aggressive. The biter may be just as frightened as the victim at the loss of his/her control.

I feel like my toddler is turning into a mini pitbull, what do I do now?

Do not:
  • Bite back—you’re trying to teach your child that this behavior is unacceptable; by biting you are teaching that it is acceptable.
  • Overreact—your child is possibly just as overwhelmed and confused about their behavior as you are. Overreacting can make your child feel more overwhelmed and stressed than before.
  • Punish—since the symptom is essentially a result of loss of control (remember, they still don’t have full control over their emotions), it is too late to attempt to stop the behavior immediately.
  • Remain calm and collected.
  • Explain to your child that biting hurts and that no one likes to be bitten. If your child is old enough, give them alternative ideas for releasing their anger--one mother gave her child a rubber dog bone to bite instead. Here is an example of what to say:
    •   “’No one likes to be bitten. You wouldn’t either. Next time you feel that way, remember, I’ll help you.”
You know your child well enough to know when they have simply lost control, or they are biting out of aggression. Although loss of control requires more teaching and understanding, the latter might require discipline and correction. Just remember that toddlers are learning self-control and you are their best example!

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