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Reducing Biting in Children Ages 15 to 36 Months

Topic Overview

Children who are 15 months to 3 years old may bite other people out of frustration or when they want power or control over another person. Some ways you can help prevent a child this age from biting include:

  • Helping the child put words to his or her feelings, such as, "You must feel angry with Bobby for taking your toy."
  • Encouraging the child to use language to express himself or herself. Say, "Use your words, don't bite."
  • Teaching your child empathy, which is understanding and being sensitive to the feelings of others.
  • Encouraging activities appropriate for a child's age and abilities. To prevent frustration, avoid activities that are too difficult or competitive.
  • Distracting a child who is becoming frustrated with other types of play, such as dancing. Or you may want to suggest a calming activity, such as reading or working on a puzzle.
  • Stopping a child who appears ready to bite someone. Get the child's attention by looking straight in his or her eyes. Use a stern voice and expression and say, "No. We never bite people."
  • Praising a child who handles frustration successfully. Say, "Great job. You used your words when you felt angry."

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: February 10, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review: John Pope MD - Pediatrics
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics

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