Written by: Nanny Secours
No parent wants to hear their child was bitten or bit another child at daycare. Biting is a common problem, especially during early childhood. Although socially unacceptable, biting is a normal behaviour and is a part of child development. Still, parents don’t always understand what pushes their toddler to bite.
Children bite for many reasons. At around 18 months old, they use their mouth to explore and discover new sensations, which is why they bite the most at that age. Teething can explain why toddlers bite repeatedly. Biting soothes the pain, so they’re constantly looking for something to munch on.
Plus, some children express their friendship and love with their teeth, having not yet acquired the self-control to properly display their excitement, joy or affection. At that age, children are totally unaware of the harm caused by biting and they act impulsively.
At around two years old, because social interactions become more and more important in a child’s life, sources of frustration are multiplied. Biting then becomes a way to express dissatisfaction and disagreement. For example, a child who doesn’t like physical contacts with other children could be prone to biting to communicate the need to play alone. Changes or stresses occurring in children’s everyday life can also be reasons for them to show their discomfort through biting.
Most of all, remain calm. This is a perfectly normal behaviour. Don’t worry about what the other parents may think: it would only increase the risk of you having a bad reaction. Instead, focus on your child and try to understand what caused this behaviour.
Question the daycare workers to get as many details as possible. Without doubting their work, ask them if they saw what happened before the biting. This is important if you want to prevent this situation from happening again.
If this was the first time your child bit, you can now be wary of this happening in the future. By finding out why your little one acted that way, you’ll have a better idea of the need expressed by your child and you’ll be able to deal with this behaviour appropriately.
As much as possible, keep the daycare staff up to date on the changes occurring in your child’s life, since these can be an important source of stress.
Once again, avoid panicking and stay open to discussion. The daycare workers are there to give you the necessary information to understand what happened and reassure you. Trust them! Also, don’t hesitate to ask what care was provided to your child after the bite. This is a valid question and you have the right to know.
Keep in mind this situation involves children, and that they’re still learning. Interactions with friends come with their fair share of problems, since young children have not yet developed the social skills necessary to maintain peaceful relationships.
Focus on your child: how did he experience this event? Ask him questions and comfort him. Without diminishing the situation, you have to accept these things happen. Holding a grudge against the biter or the parents won’t fix anything.
Although biting is perceived as violent by some, it’s a temporary phase. Of course, it’s normal for parents to be concerned. Whether you’re the parent of the child who bit or the parent of the child who was bitten, bite marks stir strong emotions. The ball is in your court: show your child that it’s possible to have peaceful discussions even when intense emotions are involved. Remember children between 2 and 5 years old don’t have all the abilities to express themselves, which is why it’s important that you take the time to teach your little one how to communicate using words rather than biting.
In this type of situation, try to be vigilant and forgiving. If you’re worried about your child’s behaviour and feel like you need more information on the subject, don’t hesitate to reach out to a family coach in your area.
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