How to Handle Biting in Young Children (By Stacy Hladek)

I recently spent an afternoon with a good friend, who has a toddler.  While we were talking about parenting she told me her son has started biting his baby brother.  My friend said nothing she or her husband had tried is working.  Her son bit another child at childcare this week for the first time

Biting is a behavior that many toddlers display at one time or another.  It can be something that makes the adults feel frustrated and helpless.  There is hope! 

Whenever a child is having a behavioral issue adults should start by increasing positive interactions with the child, such as catching them being good, increasing affection, and increased praise.  Often times this will be all that is needed to decrease the negative behaviors.

If the biting continues to be an issue the next step is to try to prevent the biting.  Give the child a teething toy that can be used to bite on when needed.  Also increase adult supervision when the child is around other children.  Do not keep the child from interacting with other children, but make sure the adult is close and can help with the interactions.

What to do when a child does bite someone else:

1.)    The child who was hurt gets the attention.  Make a big deal about their owwie, hug them, give them an ice pack, or wash the hurt body part.  The child that was aggressive should be kept in eye sight so that he is not going off and hurting another child, family pet, or himself.

2.)    Once the above is completed, the adult should take the child who was aggressive gently but firmly by the hand and remove him from the situation.  One brief statement such as “teeth are not for biting” and then no other words or attention should be given to the child.  The adult should use a firm voice, but not yell or raise their voice.

3.)    The child should be away from everyone else for a minute or two, but in eye sight of an adult. 

4.)    Once he is calm, the adult will give him a hug or pat. 

5.)    As soon as the child who was hurt is ready and the child who was aggressive is being safe, and adult should help the two make-up. 


For more ideas on aggressive behaviors in children of all ages, ways to support your family, and other parenting tips call the Family Support Line at 1-800-CHILDREN (800-244-5373) OR 1-866-Las-Familias (866-527-3264) for Spanish speakers. You can also e-mail with questions or concerns. The Family Support Line offers parenting tips, resources and information only and does not serve as legal or mental health advice. We believe the adult(s) raising the child is the expert on that child and knows what is best for their family. Comments provided by non-Families First individuals are not the opinion of Families First.

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Comment by Stacy Hladek on May 3, 2013 at 4:35pm

Thanks for your comment Ruchita Parat.  Give us a call at 1-800-Children or email me at if you would like some additional information on this topic.  I kept it brief for the blog, but have a whole behavior plan that I use with the children in preschools.  Have a great day!

Comment by Ruchita Parat on April 19, 2013 at 10:22am

this is areally big problem in small childern they harm one another for no reason jano india US hindi foundation  teaching hindi and indian culture here also during classes student bite one another  which create a big problem but with your help i can resolve it



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