How should I handle it when my toddler bites others? Behavior & Discipline

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Girl toddler in purple dress sulking.
iStock/Umkehrer

Unfortunately, biting is a common problem with toddlers. Fortunately, many moms have been in your shoes. Read some helpful advice for dealing with a biter.

Watch Your Child Closely

"Say 'no biting.' Clapping your hands at the same time loudly may also be effective in preventing the child from even clamping onto the skin. If the behavior continues, try to be next to your toddler when she plays with others to prevent the behavior. As soon as the child is nearing the skin of another child with his mouth, clap, yell, and say, 'No biting!'" -- Elena Mikalsen, PhD, Mikalsen Psychological Services, San Antonio, TX

Tell Her It Hurts

"You have to exaggerate expressions of pain and sadness when she does it, and then just say, 'We don't use our teeth on other people. Teeth are for chewing food, and people are not food.'"

Look for a Pattern

"Watch for signals that he's about to bite and see if, perhaps, there is a pattern. This can help you be proactive and stop it before it happens."

Don't Give Him Attention for It

"He probably already knows biting is wrong. He wants any attention from you, good or bad -- so instead, pay all the attention to his victim after he bites and it will probably stop."

Figure Out Why

"Is it for attention? Is it for the sensory experience? After you figure out why, do what you can to prevent it. And, after it happens, correct it immediately, but don't make a big fuss over it either."

Use Time-Outs Wisely

"Every time your child bites, grab him by the hand and tell him, 'We do not bite, biting is not nice,' then put him in time-out for two minutes. Once two minutes is up, remind him again that biting is not nice so he remembers why he was in a time-out."

The advice on CafeMom aims to educate, inform, and provide a range of solutions to the issues moms care about. It is not a substitute for consultation with a medical professional or treatment for a specific condition. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem without consulting a qualified professional. Please contact your health-care provider with questions and concerns.