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Biting is a common behavior among toddlers. If your toddler is a biter or is the target of a biter, this article will provide some tips on understanding and dealing with the behavior.
 Who Bites
Typically, biting occurs in children between the ages of twelve months and three years. Biting is a normal behavior and is not an indication that the biter is malicious or perhaps even angry. Persistent biting or biting in older children may be an indication of emotional or behavioral problems but the biting that occurs in very young children is seldom cause for alarm.
 Why They Bite
Biting can occur for a variety of reasons. Common triggers for biting include:
- Teething. In very young toddlers and older babies, teething is a common cause of biting.
- Frustration. Children may take up biting out of jealousy or anger that they lack the vocabulary to properly express. Children may also bite when overtired or when their routine has been altered, like during the weaning process. Changes in sleep and daily routines can greatly affect a child’s disposition.
- Anxiety. Children may bite when anxious in order to relieve stress. This stress coping mechanism is no different from nail biting, thumb sucking or any variety of nervous ticks.
- Attention. Boredom and lack of adult interaction can trigger biting. Biting is a fast, easy way for a child to command attention.
- Control. Toddlers are self-centered by nature and when they also begin to attain some independence, they are eager to control their surroundings. Biting is a good way to force a peer to step out of your way or yield a toy.
- Imitation. Children may take up biting after observing the behavior in their peers.
- Cause and Effect. In older infants, biting is a way to elicit a response from another person. Just as banging a spoon onto a pan makes a loud noise, biting your sibling elicits a loud scream.
 Making It Stop
- Say “no” immediately and remove the child from the object of his aggression.
- Explain to older toddlers (2-3 years old) that biting is wrong because it hurts people. Use simple phraseology to convey the message.
- Teach the child an alternative means of expressing his frustration or dealing with his anxiety. Tell the child to use words to ask a peer to move out of his way or share a toy. Show the anxious child that he can ask for a hug when he is feeling upset, rather than biting his playmate or caregiver.
- Engage the child in an interesting activity to relieve boredom
- If biting persists, do not play with or hold the biting child for five minutes following a biting episode.
- Never bite back. Biting back only reinforces that aggressive behavior is acceptable.