How to discipline children who bite

Why do some children bite? If you can get to the source of the problem, you may find that it is not just a matter of discipline but working with the child to relieve what is causing the biting problem to begin with. I have noticed that many times children who bite are not yet able to fully express themselves using words. Something may be frustrating them, which is then acted out in a physical manner.
Many years ago, while running a day care, I cared for a set of twin girls. They were around two years old when the larger twin began to bite her sister. The bites were so bad that they drew blood. In our family when a child bit someone, the solution was to gently bite them back to show them that it hurt. In day care, it would never be appropriate to approach the problem in such a physical manner. The day care giver must look deeper into the problem to resolve the issue.
The mother of the twins told me that she had tried gently biting the child that was doing the biting. This method did not work. These twins had gotten along well with a few little tiffs here and there. The biting was definitely an extreme that none of us had witnessed before.
I was at a loss. The biting seemed to happen whenever I would leave the room to prepare food or take another child to the restroom. Day in and day out the problem progressed and worsened. I did not know what to do. I asked the twin that was doing the biting why she did it. I told her that it was not a good way to treat her sister. Her speech abilities were limited and I knew that she did not understand. I showed her if I bit myself that it hurt and I would cry and say; "ouch that hurts. We do not hurt one another." We did some time outs. Many days I would separate the twins and have them play away from one another. The problem persisted.
Finally I turned to God and asked in prayer for Him to reveal what was going on and how this problem could be resolved. Almost as soon as I asked for help, I turned around from preparing the children's lunch to see the smaller twin kicking the twin that was biting. I was shocked. She kicked her sister so hard that her sister lost her balance and fell over. The reaction from the kick and fall was to retaliate with biting. It happened so fast that the little kicker was instantly in pain from the bite.
That was the last time that the biting took place. The twin that was kicking was put in time out and told that kicking was not appropriate. I told her that her sister would not bite her if she did not kick her to begin with. When the little kicker stopped kicking, the little biter stopped biting. We again had peace.
While this is just one reason why a child may be biting, it always helps to observe children's behavior when they do not think you are paying attention. Pay attention to their surroundings. Watch how the interact with others and especially be aware of how media like television affects them. Soon you will have understanding as to why a negative action is taking place and be able to eliminate inappropriate behavior like biting someone.
Discipline should always be tempered with knowledge and understanding. It can take the form of a time out, suspension of a favorite activity or toy. Sending a child to their room if it is filled with favorite toys is like sending someone to Disneyland for punishment. I have found that when you warn a child of consequences to come for bad behavior, you should always follow through. Be firm, consistent, loving. The child should always feel loved but they should also know when behavior is not acceptable. Make sure that discipline is not invoked on a child if they do not understand what they have done wrong. Raising a child is not an easy job. Many times counting to ten and taking some deep breaths is much better than acting in haste with heightened emotions.

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