Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Taking a Bite out of Biting

Biting is a frustrating and painful behavior for parents and caregivers to manage. Between the ages of one and two (and sometimes longer), children use their mouths to explore and learn about the environment. They also have very limited verbal skills during this stage. As a result, biting may occur for several reasons: exploration, expressing emotions, and/or attention seeking. Some children may not bite at all, and others may be frequent and persistent biters.

Here are some suggestions for ways to minimize biting:

Look at your program's environment, schedule, routines, and expectations of children and staff. Try to minimize: congestion, confusion and disorder, children waiting, frustration, boredom, commotion, competition for toys and materials, and competition for adult attention.

Avoid large groups, and break the children up into smaller groups. Try to spread out activities to avoid children “bunching” up.

Look for ways to increase the promotion of the children’s sense of security and stability:

- Maintain a predictable schedule and ensure that children understand and anticipate the progression of the day.

- Ensure prime times with the child’s primary caregiver.

- Ensure warm, cozy, semi-secluded “safe places to be.”

- Avoid staffing changes. Develop and maintain individual and group rituals.

Look for ways to engage children more effectively in the environment:

- Analyze the developmental appropriateness of children’s choices.

- Provide duplicates of popular toys and multiple options for activities.

- Consider whether to increase the motor and sensory choices available.

Look for ways to calm children after periods of excitement, such as relaxed transitions, calming music, and calming physical contact with caregivers.

Analyze grouping of children to avoid combinations that might lead to conflict or biting. Avoid grouping “biters” and “victims” together. Also avoid grouping children who will compete for toys.

If you would like more information about biting or any other behavior issue, please contact one of the Inclusion Specialists at Child Care Aware® of Central Missouri at 800-243-9685.

Information obtained from: ExchangeEveryDay a free service of Exchange Magazine, January 6, 2006

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