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Biting: An Evergreen Challenge with Toddlers

Our species has demonstrated that we can walk on the moon if we put our minds to it. Now let’s turn to an even more crucial task, the creation of an earth full of people who are celebrating each other in conscious love.
Gay Hendricks and Kathlyn Hendricks, American psychologist/writer and body intelligence expert and w

As long as there have been toddlers there has been biting. It’s a challenge every early childhood educator who is caring for toddlers will almost always face. The Zero to Three website explains common reasons why.

“Toddlers might bite if they:

  • Lack language skills necessary for expressing important needs or strong feelings like anger, frustration, joy, etc. Biting is a substitute for the messages he can’t yet express in words like: I am so mad at you, You are standing too close to me, I am really excited, or I want to play with you.
  • Are overwhelmed by the sounds, light or activity level in this setting
  • Are experimenting to see what will happen
  • Need more active playtime
  • Are over-tired
  • Are teething
  • Have a need for oral stimulation”

In the Exchange Reflections, “Addressing Biting in Positive Ways,” Linda Crissali offers many suggestions for dealing with biting, ending with this encouragement:

“If you are calm, professional, confident, and articulate as you interact with staff and parents, it will minimize the level of emotionality that is often associated with dealing with biting. Most of all, it is important to support and nurture the child who bites so that she doesn’t come to think of herself as intrinsically ‘bad’ or ‘unlovable’ while you are helping her overcome her problem with biting.”

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