Q: My two-year-old is a biter. He bites when he’s excited or angry. His biting is indiscriminate and seems almost instinctive to him, so it’s really hard to get him to stop. Any suggestions?
A: Toddlers handle excitement or anger in a variety of ways. Some yell, some stomp and some bite. It’s not misbehaviour, so the trick is to prevent the biting as a habit. Watch for any indication that he’s about to chomp down on some unsuspecting child. Before he bites, intervene. Sometimes simply the act of holding him will take care of the problem and he will settle down. Then divert his attention elsewhere.
Try to make his life as stress-free as possible. This is not the time to challenge him with new responsibilities. Develop his schedule so that, as often as possible, he has meals and naps at regular times. This will reduce the likelihood of his losing it because he’s hungry or tired. Help him be successful by making his clothing comfortable and easy to handle, have a sturdy stepstool to allow him to reach the sink and make his toys easily accessible. In other words, limit potential frustrations.
When he does bite, make sure he knows it’s not acceptable. Look him right in the eye and say, “That hurts!” Then hold him for a few moments and tell him he can’t be with other kids when he hurts them.