What should you do if your child bites at daycare?

What should you do if your child bites at daycare?
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If your child has been biting at daycare, it occurs more commonly than you’d think. Because most toddlers don’t have the words to express their feelings nor can they understand what they’re doing, it’s important to gently nip the problem in the bud. Here are some hints to help.

If your child has a tendency to bite, he or she is not alone. Up until the age of three, most children do not yet have the vocabulary they need to express complex emotions, nor are they truly aware of the consequences of their actions. Children who bite at daycare do so for various common reasons:

If they’re under one year of age, they may only be trying to find some relief for teething pain.

+ They’re angry and don’t know how else to express themselves.

+ They’re trying to get a toy or an object from another child.

+ They’re trying to vent some stress.

+ They’re trying to get attention.

+ They’re trying to defend themselves against aggression from another child.

+ They’re not adapting well to a change.

+ They may be concerned about something or feel uncomfortable.

+ They may be mimicking an aggressive behaviour they’ve witnessed.

How to help solve the problem

Before you can find a solution for children who are biting at daycare, you must first find the cause. If your child has been biting, ask him or her a few questions about the context of the incident:

+ Who did it happen with?

+ What happened and at what time during the day?

+ Did he bit more than once?

Above all, try to understand whether the behaviour is linked to a precise event or context that worries him or makes him feel uncomfortable. The problem may be caused by some kind of stress in his life at the daycare centre, but it could also be sparked by tension at home.

Name your feelings

Even a young child can find other ways to express her emotions. The secret is to learn to identify them.

+ You can make funny “feelings faces” together, or read her a story that features different emotional situations.

+ Point out drawings that express anger, sadness and joy, and encourage her to express how she feels or would feel in that situation.

+ Remember that children who are biting at daycare aren’t just being naughty. They simply don’t have the tools to resolve the problems they perceive.

Positive reinforcement

Over the next few days, remain attentive to her behaviour and react positively to her efforts to express feelings and whenever she chooses a different way to solve a problem.

She will learn to attract your attention by her positive attitude and not by biting.

Role play and miming

Why not play charades together?

+ Make a game of reenacting a tricky situation and try to demonstrate that there are other ways to behave within the same context.

Over the age of three

When a child reaches the age of three, he usually has acquired enough language tools to get what he wants or express a need without biting.

+ If your child is beyond this age but is still biting children at daycare or at home, and if you’re unable to help him or her overcome this unpleasant behaviour, don’t hesitate to consult a specialist for advice.

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