Understanding Why Toddlers Bite - post

Understanding Why Toddlers Bite

image in article Understanding Why Toddlers BiteToddlers biting is a common behavior that often leaves #parents and child care providers perplexed and concerned. While it can be distressing, it's essential to recognize that biting is a normal phase of #development for many #toddlers. Understanding the reasons behind this behavior and implementing effective strategies can help child care providers support both children and their families during this challenging phase.

The Developmental Context of Toddler Biting:

  • Exploration and Communication:

Toddlers are at a stage where they are rapidly developing their motor and communication skills. Biting is often a form of exploration and communication for them. Their curiosity about the world around them may lead to using their mouths as a way to understand objects and people.

  • Teething:

The teething process is another factor contributing to toddler biting. As toddlers experience discomfort and pain from emerging teeth, they may instinctively bite to alleviate the discomfort.

  • Lack of Verbal Skills:

Communication challenges play a significant role in toddler biting. Many toddlers lack the verbal skills necessary to #express their needs, emotions, or frustrations effectively. Biting may become a default method of communication when they are unable to express themselves verbally. Creating opportunities for children to expand their #language and communication skills is one way to support toddlers during this time. ChildCareEd’s training Classroom Tools for Emergent Literacy discusses using strategies and materials such as Stop, Read, Go Vocabulary Box, interactive read-aloud, reading buddies, labeling, and Books on Tape as effective methods to support emergent literacy in children.

Emotional Expression and Regulation:

  • Frustration and Overstimulation:

Toddlers often experience intense emotions, and when they are unable to cope with frustration or overstimulation, biting may become an outlet for their emotions. Understanding the triggers for frustration and addressing them proactively can help reduce biting incidents.

  • Seeking Attention:

Toddlers may bite as a way to seek attention, even if it is negative attention. They are still learning about cause and effect, and biting can be a powerful way to elicit a reaction from caregivers or peers. Dealing with challenging behaviors begins by understanding the reasons behind them. ChildCareEd has created Mysteries of Challenging Behavior Solved to help #early-childhood- #educators identify challenging behaviors and guidance and discipline strategies to use to promote a #safe and tranquil #classroom-environment for all learners. In addition, read more about strategies to assist in managing behaviors in ChildCareEd article “Resources for Managing Behaviors

  • Mimicking Behavior:

Toddlers are highly observant and may imitate behaviors they witness, especially if they see others using biting as a means of communication or expression. Creating a positive and nurturing environment can help minimize negative influences.

Strategies for Child Care Providers:

  • Communication and Observation:

Effective communication is crucial in addressing toddler biting. Child care providers should communicate openly with parents to understand the child's behavior at #home and identify potential triggers. Regular observation of children's interactions can also provide insights into their emotional states and potential causes of biting. ChildCareEd understands the importance of positive parent- #teacher relationships. The training Let’s Talk: Effective Communication is designed so that #teachers and providers understand why relationships with parents are important and how to communicate with parents and involve them in the child care setting as well as understanding how to help both parents and children through separation and attachment.

  • Teach Alternative Behaviors:

Child care providers play a pivotal role in guiding toddlers toward more appropriate means of communication and expression. Teaching alternative behaviors, such as using words, gestures, or other forms of expression, can help toddlers replace biting with more socially acceptable actions. 

  • Consistent Rules and Boundaries:

Establishing consistent rules and boundaries within the child care setting is essential. Toddlers thrive on routine and predictability, and having clear expectations helps them understand acceptable behavior. Consistency in enforcing rules ensures that toddlers receive a unified message about biting. Read more about the Importance of Routine in Child Care.

  • Positive Reinforcement:

Positive reinforcement is a powerful tool in shaping behavior. Child care providers should actively praise and reward toddlers when they exhibit appropriate behaviors, reinforcing the idea that positive actions yield positive outcomes. This can help redirect their attention away from biting. Positive Discipline is essential when working with children of #all-ages especially toddlers who are still learning appropriate behaviors.

  • Individualized Attention:

Each toddler is unique, and understanding the individual needs and triggers of each child can contribute significantly to addressing biting behaviors. Providing individualized attention, whether through one-on-one interactions or targeted activities, can help meet the specific needs of each child. Supporting child development through individualized learning can increase success by treating children based on their unique abilities and backgrounds.

Collaboration with Parents:

  • Open Communication Channels:

Establishing open and transparent communication channels with parents is crucial. Child care providers should keep parents informed about their child's behavior and work collaboratively to address biting incidents. Sharing insights and strategies between home and child care settings ensures a consistent approach to behavioral challenges.

  • Providing Resources and Guidance:

Child care providers can offer resources and guidance to parents, helping them understand the #developmental aspects of biting and offering strategies for managing the behavior at home. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of shared responsibility between caregivers and parents.

Creating a Supportive Environment:

  • Emotional Regulation Spaces:

Child care settings can incorporate designated spaces for emotional regulation, providing toddlers with a safe and quiet area to calm down when needed. Equipping these spaces with soft furnishings and age-appropriate toys can facilitate a positive environment for emotional expression.

  • Sensory Activities:

Engaging toddlers in #sensory activities can be an effective way to channel their energy and curiosity positively. Activities such as finger painting, playdough, and water play allow toddlers to explore different textures and sensations, promoting sensory development and reducing the likelihood of biting. Sensory Play in Early Childhood Education is a hands-on and self-directed play that offers sensory stimulation for the brain.

  • Positive Role Modeling:

Child care providers serve as role models for toddlers. Demonstrating positive communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution techniques can influence toddlers to adopt similar behaviors. Creating an environment where caregivers model appropriate conduct helps shape the social and emotional development of young children.

Seeking Professional Guidance:

  • Collaboration with Child Development Specialists:

In cases where biting persists or becomes a concerning pattern, child care providers may consider collaborating with child development specialists, such as pediatricians, child psychologists, or behavioral therapists. These professionals can provide additional insights and tailored strategies to address specific challenges.

  • Early Intervention Programs:

Accessing #early-intervention programs or services can be beneficial for toddlers experiencing persistent behavioral issues. These programs are designed to provide support and resources to children and families, addressing developmental concerns and fostering positive outcomes. When child care professionals are aware of the signs Typical & Atypical Development in ECE they are better able to communicate with parents and other educators in collaborating to support children’s learning and #healthy development.


Understanding why toddlers bite is a complex but essential aspect of providing quality child care. By recognizing the developmental context, emotional factors, and communication challenges that contribute to biting behaviors, child care providers can implement effective strategies to support both toddlers and their families. Through open communication, collaboration with parents, and creating a nurturing environment, child care providers play a crucial role in guiding toddlers through this challenging phase of development. Ultimately, a holistic and collaborative approach ensures that toddlers receive the support they need to navigate the intricacies of #early-childhood development.

To learn more register today for ChildCareEd’s training Ouch! Biting & Hitting HurtsIn this 3-hour online child care course, educators will learn strategies they can implement in the early childhood classroom to use positive guidance and discipline to curb biting and hitting behaviors.

Additionally, ChildCareEd’s FREE resource: "Biting and hitting in early childhood", provides the answer to the question, “Are biting and hitting normal in early childhood?” and offers some reasons behind these behaviors. Educators can use this information to help determine the reasons behind behaviors and help children develop alternative responses to situations.


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