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Biter

  • 1.  Biter

    Posted 08-30-2019 09:05 AM
    I am asking for input on how to handle a 17 month old that is having biting issues.  He was breast fed and at approximately 12 months began biting excessively.He was totally weaned from the breast by 15 months because of this. The mother tried different things co-workers and the pediatrician recommended but nothing seemed to work. Now he is biting other children in his child care classroom.  How has others addressed this type of problem?

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    Sherry Michael
    Education Program Coordinator
    Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
    Keyser WV
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  • 2.  RE: Biter

    Posted 08-31-2019 04:11 AM
    An interesting and not uncommon challenge when working with young children, especially older infants/toddlers. I found what is important in the process to determine the trigger for a child biting others are observations of the child's behavior, most importantly, the behavior of the child right before they attempt to bite another child. With a series of observations, I would look for any patterns in the behavior that triggered the biting and develop strategies to intervene as quickly as possible and to guide the child to learn prosocial behaviors. Finally, something I used quite often was having a supply of raw vegetables and when the child would show signs of an emotion that might lead to biting, giving him/her a raw vegetable, like a carrot or celery to bite down on to learn to manage the emotion. I found, in some cases, a cause was the child was frustrated or angry and was in the process of learning how to express the emotion in words or learning to manage the emotion over time.

    I am curious to know the strategies recommended by the pediatrician and whether they were implemented consistently.

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    Robert Gundling, Ed.D.
    Better Futures LLC
    Senior Consultant
    Washington, DC
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  • 3.  RE: Biter

    Posted 08-31-2019 08:57 AM
    I'm excited to hear what people have to say about this. We had a tough little girl once, for whom the pediatrician recommended hot sauce and lemon juice. We felt bad about doing it and the child ended up liking the taste!

    I like what Robert has said about being proactive instead of reactive and I know it can be hard to simply observe in a classroom with little ones. You will probably need an extra set of hands. This also means that you expect (want) a biting incident to (almost) occur so your would have to be prepared to redirect the biting child quickly!

    Great Post!

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    Kayleigh Francis
    Ivy Tech Community College
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 4.  RE: Biter

    Posted 09-01-2019 09:34 AM
    Kayleigh:
    It's disheartening that a pediatrician would recommend punishment for a child for any behavior, especially behavior that they most likely can't yet stop.  The fact that this child liked hot sauce and lemon makes me wonder if her biting stemmed from needing oral stimulation--she needed strong sensations in her mouth.  When I'm working with a child that bites this is one of the first things I Iook for. Are they seeking sensory input orally?  Some clues are if they often have items in their mouth, if they bite the top of their bottle, cup, or water bottle, and the intensity with which they bite objects.  I'm working with a 4 year old now who uses a hard chewy, is allowed to use his water bottle whenever he wants it (as I think all children should be allowed), and is given crunchy food for snack each day.  He's learned the feelings in his body when he's getting dysregulated and now asks for these things.  I'm working with a child who just turned two who is sensory seeking in many ways, including by biting.  Through OT intervention we got her a vibrating toothbrush, which she keeps in her mouth for up to 20 minutes at a time as she plays.


    Kayleigh wrote:  We had a tough little girl once, for whom the pediatrician recommended hot sauce and lemon juice. We felt bad about doing it and the child ended up liking the taste! 

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 5.  RE: Biter

    Posted 09-03-2019 09:38 AM
    Hi Aren,

         Thank you for saying so! It really shows how under-educated all of us were at the time. We had no idea how the minds of children worked and we were at the mercy of the pediatrician. We had no knowledge background to stand on for stating otherwise would have been better for the child.

         I see you provide expert recommendations so often. Thank you for acknowledging me (I'm honored)! I know Sherry will gain so much from your reply to me.


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    Kayleigh Francis
    Ivy Tech Community College
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 6.  RE: Biter

    Posted 09-03-2019 10:03 AM
    I feel the hot sauce is a bit harsh especially for such a young child.  The lemon juice, maybe.  I just wonder if by doing this it may cause the child to loose trust in the individual that is giving this to the child.  I can see where it may help but it may also have its negative results as well. I like the discussion of the aggressive moods causing the biting I can see where that would stimulate a child to bite. I am going to try to perform a more through observation is see if the child is needing something to just to satisfy their oral needs. Something to chew on or have in their mouth to kinda give them comfort. It is almost like a blankie - gives them comfort when they are overwhelmed or needing that sense of security. This may just be another way of exhibiting their need, biting and if you give them something to chew when they get the need or feeling to bite they can use that chew toy, of even the chew beads.  Thank you to everyone that has shared their thoughts and ideas. If gives me some direction to proceed.

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    Sherry Michael
    Education Program Coordinator
    Eastern West Virginia Community and Technical College
    Keyser WV
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  • 7.  RE: Biter

    Posted 09-03-2019 10:17 AM
    Hey Sherry,

         Yes, the hot sauce and the lemon juice were more of suggestions of what NOT to do. I think you are doing great by asking the community and doing your research. I also think that your statement about the trust is so spot on. Be sure to let us know what you come up with and if you discover a solution after your observation! I am sure we would all love to know what worked for your biter in your tricky situation.


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    Kayleigh Francis
    Ivy Tech Community College
    Indianapolis IN
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  • 8.  RE: Biter

    Posted 09-04-2019 06:31 PM
    Sherry:
    I, too, would like to hear how things progress.  Biting is so stressful for the teachers, parents, and children!  To the child doing the biting it might be the same as hitting, but the results can be so much more hurtful.  It's great that you're willing to try different things. Nothing is magical but hopefully over time some things will diminish the need to bite.
    Kayleigh:  Thank you so much for the compliment.  I'm old and have had a lot of time to learn from my mistakes!

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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