If your baby is in the habit of biting – either playfully or when in a bad mood with no intention to hurt – stop him quickly.
Evidence suggests that the peak age for insensitive (he doesn’t know the implication of his action) and aggressive (he does this in a rage) biting is around two years.
However, psychologists can’t say why a child expresses his anger by biting rather than shouting or kicking.
The typical “biter” is full of his own self-importance. He sees the world from his perspective only and expects everyone else to fit in with whatever he wants. Biting is a very effective way of making others meet his demands!
Although your baby will outgrow his habit of biting by the time he reaches school age, you can hardly wait until then to stop him.
Pick a good time to teach him: Talk to him about his biting habit when he is settled and relaxed. Never when he is in the middle of a tantrum as he won’t listen then.
Tell him clearly that you don’t like it when he bites and that other people dislike it as well. For instance, say: “Your friends will not play with you if you bite.”
Be prepared to repeat this message again and again over the next few months. Point out that you and his father will be very angry if he bites anyone.
Let him know he will be punished and spell out how. For instance, he will not be allowed to play in the garden.
The actual punishment itself doesn’t matter. What’s important is that he realises his biting will be punished, and how.
Here’s how you can manage your baby’s biting behaviour more effectively:
1. Keep your own temper in check.
No matter how agitated you are at the sight of him biting yet again, you need to stay in control in order to act firmly, quickly and rationally.
2. Separate him.
When he does bite, quickly and firmly remove him from the victim. At the same time, repeatedly say “no” to him. Stay with your baby until you feel he has calmed down.
3. Be consistent.
Make sure you, your husband and any caregiver uses the same strategies to deal with your child the next he bites.
4. Praise good behaviour.
Praise him at those times when he plays with other children without biting them at all. This focuses his attention on how you want him to behave.
5. Never bite back.
Biting your baby when he himself bites is absurd and sets a dreadful example. It will also have him thinking that “if biting is good enough for Mum, then it is good enough for me.” He’ll bite even harder the next time.