“It may be horrifying but your child biting another pre-schooler is actually normal behaviour in many children.” Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Vanessa Von Auer
Dr. Vanessa von Auer of VA Psychology Center explains biting in children and how you can prevent this worrying behaviour.
Biting is a style of communication that children adopt and is a normal part of their development. It comes into play when pre-schoolers struggle to verbalise their needs or lack the social skills to cope with their emotions. Here’s how you can handle a biting situation effectively while inculcating communication and social skills in your child.
SET A CONSEQUENCE
Address the biting immediately. This is called ‘labelling’ undesirable behaviour and will help children understand why biting is inappropriate. Implement a consequence such as a time out or the loss of a privilege.
COMFORT THE VICTIM
Make sure your child is watching as you approach the victim and focus your attention on him or her. This act demonstrates empathy – an act your child can imitate. Ensure your child makes amends by apologising or even helping you soothe the other child.
REPLACE BITING BEHAVIOURS
Help your child understand how to communicate without resorting to biting. To do this, understand the purpose behind your child’s behaviour. After you’ve figured out the reasons, teach your child better ways to communicate with others in such scenarios.
Identify situations that trigger your child’s biting and let the teacher know. This facilitates anticipation and supervision during play, and can help prevent biting completely. Be patient and take this developmental hurdle in your stride.
At VA Psychology Center, qualified, overseas-trained psychologists use expressive forms of therapy and counselling to help children and their parents manage emotional and behavioural struggles.