Top 10 Reasons Why Kids Bite

Understanding why your child bites can help you address the problem.
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While some kids never show interest in biting, others go through a serious biting phase that becomes problematic. Daycares sometimes expel children who bite in order to protect the safety of other children. And it’s not always easy to find a new daycare provider after being expelled from a center for biting.

Biting most commonly occurs in children under the age of 3 and less often in preschool children.

Sometimes, children with developmental delays, continue biting until they’re much older.

If your child bites, it’s important to develop an understanding of biting behavior so you can prevent it from continuing. Here are the top reasons why kids bite:

1. Biting relieves teething pain. Babies often bite when they’re teething and they don’t discriminate whether they’re biting on a teething ring or someone’s hand.

2. Kids are curious about what happens when they bite. Sometimes kids just want to see what happens if they bite someone. They may try biting another child or a caregiver simply out of curiosity.

3. Young kids don’t have the language skills to express emotion. When young children feel frustrated, angry, sad, or afraid, they want to express their emotions. Yet, they lack the verbal skills to share those emotions in an eloquent manner. Biting provides a way for them to send the message that they’re experiencing strong emotions.

4. Toddlers often use biting to communicate their needs. Young toddlers lack the ability to recognize and communicate some of their basic needs, such as hunger or thirst. When they’re in pain or don’t feel well, they can’t talk about it. So instead, they often resort to biting as a way to communicate they need something.

5. Biting can be a good way to get attention. The way adults respond to biting plays a major role in how likely a child is to keep biting. If biting raises a lot of commotion, a child may learn that it’s is a great way to attract attention. Even negative attention can positively reinforce behavior.

6. Kids often learn to bite from other kids. When one child bites at a daycare center, the other children often follow suit. Young children pay close attention to one another. They watch how their peers interact. When they see one child biting others, they often decide to try biting as well.

7. Biting may satisfy a need for oral-motor stimulation. Toddlers love to put everything in their mouths and that often includes other people’s skin or clothing. It’s a pivotal time for them to begin learning how their behavior can hurt other people.

8. Kids may bite in self-defense. Aggressive behavior is sometimes more of a defense, rather than an offense. A toddler who feels threatened by a child trying to take his toy may bite his hand.

A preschooler who feels threatened by a bigger kid who tries to push him out of the way may react by chomping on his arm.

9. Biting gives kids a sense of control. Young children have very little control over their lives. Biting is one way that they often begin asserting some control over their environment as they try to gain independence.

10. Overstimulated kids behave struggle to maintain control. Young children lack impulse control.  And sometimes, bright lights, loud noises, and extra activity further reduce their self-control and can increase incidents of biting. Sometimes, happy kids who are enjoying music or having fun with friends may bite out of excitement.

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