Occupational Therapy

Why is My Child Biting and What Can I Do About it?

Biting is a common behavior in young children and this means there are probably a lot of parents out there concerned about this. If you’re one of them, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce biting, even eliminate it completely.

Why Your Child is Biting

Biting is a natural part of a developing child. There are various reasons why children bite. Children tend to go through a biting phase when they’re between 1 and 3 years old, but they do eventually outgrow it.

A Few Reasons Why Kids Start Biting

Children might bite when they’re overwhelmed with anger, fear or frustration. They may do it because another child bit them first. Other reasons your child may bite include:


If your infant’s teeth are just coming through, pressure on their gums comforts them and they’ll grab just about anything to bite. An easy solution to this is to give them a teething toy like a teething ring or keys to reduce their need to bite you or another person.

Lack of Self Control or Impulsiveness

Some kids do it out of impulsivity or they lack self-control. Or they bite because they can. For instance, infants may bite because they find something to bite and it’s their way of exploring.

Overstimulation and Excitement

Some younger kids when overstimulated or excited may also behave in an impulsive or out-of-control manner.

Ways to Stop Biting

It may take a little time and effort, but you can put a stop to your child’s biting. Here are a few ways to stop your little one from nibbling on your arm.

Find What Triggers Them to Bite

Learn your child’s aggressive behavior triggers. You may identify certain triggers by keeping a journal where you can identify the connection between your child’s biting behavior and the situations or circumstances that seem to always lead to the biting.

Make Them Understand How Biting Feels

This doesn’t mean bite your child back. Instead, take your child away from the situation and ask them to allow you to show how teeth feel on their skin. Then, take your child’s forearm and press it against their upper teeth.  By doing this and reminding your little one what biting feels like, you’re teaching them a lesson in empathy and sensitivity to how others’ feel.

Offer an Alternative

Provide your little one with a biting alternative like a small pillow or washcloth. Then, when your child is feeling frustrated or testy, remind them to use their biting substitute instead of their playmate.

Above all, always take your child aside and discuss what happened and give gentle reminders this behavior is unacceptable.  A little direction and patience can go a long way in teaching your child biting is not the answer.

Consult with their pediatrician or pediatric occupational therapist for an occupational therapy evaluation and some suggestions on how to tackle this behavior.

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