little boy with paint on his face, holding a magnifying glass, looking to side

How To Handle And Prevent Kids Biting

Published date field Last Updated:

Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

Parents' most crucial role is to help their children navigate the world, and one of the trickier issues to address is kids biting. Your child might be doing the biting, might be on the receiving end of a biting peer, or both. Here is an explanation for why youngsters may use their mouths as a form of expression and some tips on how to correct this behavior.

Why Do Children Bite?

On the surface, biting might seem malicious, but it really isn't. According to The Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, children use their mouths to learn about their surroundings and bring themselves comfort. Biting serves as a communication form since toddlers lack the language skills to express themselves differently from older children and adults. Biting represents various emotions, including excitement, frustration, or boredom. So, it makes sense that as children can communicate better verbally, biting incidents decline.

How Can I Get My Child to Stop Biting?

If biting becomes a problem with your child, The Nemours Foundation offers some valuable tips on how to handle the situation and how to prevent future incidents.

For starters, maintain control of your emotions when being stern with your child. Firmly remind them that he's not supposed to bite. Avoid a long explanation as to your child's too young to comprehend. It is important to remain calm and collected.

Then focus on the person who was bitten. Determine if the bite needs medical attention. Once you've tended to the victim, turn back to the biter and comfort them as he's sure to be feeling upset. Show your child that there are alternative methods to biting, such as using words to diffuse a situation before it escalates.

Young children are easily distracted. Getting them to focus on something positive can serve as a great way to calm down an emotional situation.

How to Prevent Kids From Biting

If you find yourself in a frontier that is kids biting – whether your child is the biter or the recipient of the bite – seize that opportunity to educate your child about proper mouth health. First, help them see that the dentist is an ally and that regular check-ups aren't scary. That means setting the example by setting up regular preventative appointments to get your teeth cleaned.

The next part of the equation starts at home. Brush those chompers at least twice each day and use an interdental cleaner regularly. Try a toothpaste that fights cavities with a clinically proven fluoride formula for kids. Encourage healthy snacks, like fruits and vegetables, as opposed to sugar-filled alternatives. Helping your child develop good oral care habits early can lead to a lifelong routine as an adult.

The following tips can help avoid any future incidents:

  • Accentuate the positive with your child. Compliment them during times of good behavior instead of scolding them when they misbehave.
  • Stay on message with your "no biting" rule. Eventually, they'll understand that that tenet doesn't take any days off.
  • When you're venturing into situations that might trigger your child to misbehave, discuss this with them ahead of time, so they know what your expectations are.

Biting can result from the inability to communicate fully, so discover other methods to help your child express their emotions. Consulting a doctor or therapist is a good start if you're not sure about proper coping methods. Before long, your little ones will only be using their chompers for smiling and laughing.

Oral Care Center articles are reviewed by an oral health medical professional. This information is for educational purposes only. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist, physician or other qualified healthcare provider. 

paper airplane

Want more tips and offers sent directly to your inbox?

Sign up now

Mobile Top Image
Was this article helpful?

Thank you for submitting your feedback!

If you’d like a response, Contact Us.

Mobile Bottom Image