Has your child starting biting other children or even you? Biting can be common in young toddlers but it can be very frustrating and concerning as a parent. Biting or other behaviours can be more common in children who have a speech and language delay.
Here are three tips from a speech therapist to help if your child is biting others:
1) Be firm but calm! When your child bites you or another child, you may want to yell or respond with a big “NO NO NO!” but this big reaction can often encourage the behavior rather than help to eliminate it. It is best to say in a calm firm voice something like “mouths aren’t for biting people, mouths are for biting food or teethers.” You can read books with your child to reinforce this message. Some examples are “Teeth Are Not For Biting” By Elizabeth Verdick, “Teeth are NOT for Biting” by Phalan Taylor, or “No Biting” by Karen Katz.
2) Offer food or teether. Sometimes your child may be biting when they are getting new teeth or seeking more sensory input in their mouth. If you think this is the case, offer your child a soothing food such as frozen yogurt tube, cold drink or soft fruit. If they are seeking sensory input or teething, teethers can also be a great option. Look for sturdy teethers or chew tubes designed for toddlers’ molars.
3) Teach power words. If you feel your child is biting when frustrated or when wanting to protest what is happening, try teaching some power words like “NO”, “stop” or “mine”. Your child can use these words to express what they are feeling or thinking when another child takes a toy or does something they don’t like. If your child is not using many words yet, it can be helpful to teach these words along with an action as the action may be easier for your child to use initially.
If your child is biting and also has a delay in their language development, this could be adding to the difficulty. It is recommended that you work with a speech language pathologist to support your child’s communication.