Baby Sharks – Biting

By Ivis Mateos

Biting is a common behavior among children birth to three-years-old. Developmentally, most toddlers don’t have enough words to express how they are feeling. According to The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning at Vanderbilt University, children primarily rely on sounds and actions to communicate what they are thinking and feeling. The good news is that they usually grow out of the biting stage by the age of three or four.

At a preschool setting every effort will be made to determine the reasoning or the function behind the biting behavior so that we can try to figure out what teachers and parents can do to teach the child more appropriate responses than biting. 

When biting occurs, teachers will record incidents and document observations to better understand the context before and after a bite (where, when, how, who), as well as noting when the behavior is absent. Teachers will also note the location and availability of staff during the incident to ensure proper supervision is taking place. As staff members are working to better understand why the child is doing the behavior, they will work to be proactive in striving to prevent future incidents. 

Children bite for many different reasons. Some of the reasons include, but are not limited to, exploration, teething, investigating cause and effect, attention, frustration in expressing needs or wants,  becoming independent, learning to play with other children, anxiety, or feeling threatened by a new or changing situation. 

When a child bites another child, staff will:

Intervene immediately. 

Help the child who was bitten by showing concern and support. 

Work to teach the child with the challenging behavior in a caring and firm way that the behavior is not acceptable as well as alternate behaviors that are acceptable. 

Reinforce positive behaviors. 

The school will provide a confidential accident report to the parents of the bitten child, while a confidential incident report will be provided to the parents of the biter. These forms assist in documenting and identifying patterns so that staff can work to prevent future incidents by changing the environment and implementing intentional teaching strategies (social-emotional supports).

If the biting continues the school will then request to meet with the parents of the child who is biting to plan strategies for supporting children in positive social behaviors. On the very rare occasion that the biting continues without improvement, the school reserves the right to ask the parents to seek professional help to help identify a core issue if any seem present. 

An important thing to remember is to always conscious discipline and do not label your child as a biter. Work together with your teachers and school administrators to find the tools necessary to change your child’s behavior and soon you will see that this too shall pass.  

Ivis Mateos is a mother of two boys and has more than 22 years combined experience in educational consulting and management. In addition to earning her National Administrator Credential, Mateos has lead workshops on curriculum development, teacher development and parenting. She has been the General Manager at Tiny Planet Preschool and an Educational Consultant for Graven International Group for the past three years. For more information, please contact 954-384-4884.