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Most children younger than age 3 bite someone else at least once. Most children stop biting on their own. Biting that happens past age 3 or that occurs frequently at any age may need treatment. Biting isn't always intentional, and a bite from a child rarely causes serious injury to another person or poses any health risks.
Children bite other people for different reasons, depending on their age.
Biting occurs in a variety of situations, most often when many children are together, such as at daycare. Most biting can be prevented when adults help children find better ways to express their feelings.
A child of any age who frequently bites other children may need special arrangements for daycare. If biting becomes an ongoing problem, parents may be asked to take their child out of a daycare centre.
Biting in young children usually doesn't lead to behaviour problems at a later age. But children who bite others often and act aggressively in other ways, especially if they are older than age 3, may have health problems or emotional issues. These children should be seen by a doctor.
Not all biting can be prevented. What you can do to reduce biting depends on how old your child is and why he or she bites. For example:
Learn to recognize the signs that your child is about to bite. You may be able to stop the biting before it happens if you can distract or redirect your child. Don't try to reason with young children or have long talks about biting. Use simple and direct language.
Positive reinforcement also helps. Praise your child when he or she shows behaviours that you want to encourage, such as sharing, being kind, or being patient. A reward can be as simple as giving your child a hug or a pat on the back and telling the child how well he or she is doing.
Be sure to model the behaviour you would like to see in your child. Avoid angry outbursts, and set a good example by showing your child how to deal calmly with everyday frustrations. When a child bites:
Current as of: May 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: John Pope MD - PediatricsDonald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineKathleen Romito MD - Family MedicineSusan C. Kim MD - PediatricsLouis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
Current as of: May 27, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:John Pope MD - Pediatrics & Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine & Susan C. Kim MD - Pediatrics & Louis Pellegrino MD - Developmental Pediatrics
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