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Help! My child is biting other children

I’m so embarrassed but my child care provider called me in to say my two-year-old has been biting other children. I hate to think what the other parents must be thinking. What do I do?

To receive a call from your child care service that your child has bitten another child can be quite distressing. No family wants to be informed that their child has hurt someone else.

Unfortunately, biting can happen very quickly, often without warning and is very common for 2 year old’s and almost unavoidable in group care.

Anne Stonehouse, (2008) has an excellent resource on biting. Anne says that 'biting is a normal behaviour, and is not generally a sign, at this age, that something is wrong with the child, wrong at home or wrong with the child care service'. (See http://ncac.acecqa.gov.au/family-resources/factsheets/biting.pdf).

It is important to work closely with the educators at your child care service. Your child is most likely using biting to have a need meet and sometimes educators find it difficult to understand what the child is communicating.

There are two types of influences on children's behaviour. That is, environmental and developmental. Common environmental influences in child care include; transitions, group times, rest times, meal times, resources and educator interactions. To change or stop a child’s challenging behaviour, a new acceptable alternative behaviour is taught and learned.

Most educators will assist a child to use responsible behaviours and will need to develop and use specific strategies for the child that will help them use more acceptable behaviours. For example, a child may be trying to use a toy (need) that another child has and to accomplish this he bits (challenging behaviour). The alternative behaviour may involve the educator teaching the child to use his words (alternative behaviour) to ask for the toy (need) instead of bitting. This new behaviour will still enable the child to have his need for connection met

Sharon McKinlay

Sharon McKinlay

Early Learning Consultant, Goodstart Early Learning

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