U-GRO Learning Centres

How to Curb Biting Behavior in Your Toddler Classroom

As an early childhood educator, you get to help children learn, grow, and meet new milestones. This also includes helping them work through normal developmental behaviors that may be inappropriate in a classroom environment.

Biting is a natural, common behavior among toddlers, and it’s a behavior a teacher may notice among his or her students. According to Zero to Three, toddlers bite for a few reasons, most of which are not malicious. Toddlers who don’t have fully developed language skills may bite out of expression. Or, they could bite because they need oral stimulation.

Regardless, if you are a teacher in a toddler classroom, it’s more than likely that you will observe a child biting. Here are some tips to discourage biting in your classroom.

Be observant

One of the best ways to curb biting is to anticipate when it is going to happen. Work with your co-teacher to look for patterns or warning signs prior to the biting behavior. Does the child bite when he or she feels frustrated or upset? Frustration is a common feeling that may cause a child to bite as a form of self-expression. Identifying the signs of biting is the first step to learning how to prevent future occurrences.

Distract

In the event that an incident is about to take place, distract the child. The goal is to remove him or her from the situation that is causing provocation. One way to do this is take a child to a quiet spot in the classroom to relax.

If it’s an oral fixation, provide something to chew on, like a teething ring or a cracker. The child can satisfy a fixation without harming others.

Avoid labels or punitive words

While it’s important to talk to the child about biting, it should be done in a way that he or she can understand. Remember, a toddler is often biting out of a need. Therefore, you have to use language that’s informative rather than negative. The purpose is to teach and encourage the child to use other forms of expression.

The American Psychological Association encourages phrases like “not okay” instead of “bad” when explaining to a child that biting is inappropriate. Punishment will not reduce biting behavior at this age. Most importantly, do not refer to the child as a biter.

More than likely, you may learn about a child’s biting behavior because the parent has already expressed concerns to you about it. Work together to develop a strategy and know that it may take time for a child to stop biting. After all, learning takes time!

At U-GRO Learning Centres, our instructors understand that the developmental needs of toddlers are unique. Our teachers work with children to redirect their energy in a positive way to improve social skills and self-esteem. Learn more about our toddler curriculum, and view current career opportunities in our classrooms!