Help! My kid is a biter! How to stop your kid from hurting others

Lots of kids bite or hurt others, and there are many different reasons and strategies for dealing with it.

Sometimes younger children hurt others without thinking about it or meaning to. They may bite, hit or push. Biting seems to cause the most concern in daycares and parents. If this behaviour is not dealt with, it can get worse. Here are some helpful suggestions to help your child to be gentle.

Biting is common when a child is teething. It may be helpful to give your child teething rings, a cold wet cloth, frozen fruit in a mesh holder, or other soothing things to bite on.

Some children bite, push, or hit just to see what happens. Hurting someone usually gets a big reaction from everyone involved or around. Sometimes reactions accidentally reward the child and the problem is likely to happen again.

Your child may also hurt others out of frustration or anger. Remember, being a young child can be very frustrating, with many things they get angry about, and not being able to know what words to use to tell others how they feel, or what they want.

Hurting others may also be a way for children to get what they want, if it’s worked before.

I often hear parents say they bite back to show the child how it feels, this may seem like a great idea but it's not. It will not only hurt your child, but also confuse your child if you do exactly what you told them not to do.

Getting your child to say "sorry" usually is not enough to stop frequent hurting that wasn't an accident.


How to prevent your child from hurting others:

  1. Positive praise - Usually young children play beside others rather than with others. When your child is playing well, give them lots of attention! Be sure to praise your child by saying exactly what they are doing that you like.
  2. Watch your child closely - Trying to predict when a problem may happen so that you can prevent them... Watch your child very closely, especially when they are playing with other children and in situations where your child has hurt someone before. You will need to act quickly if your child is about to hurt someone.
  3. Help your child put words to how they're feeling, or say what they want - Children have difficulty with expressing themselves, give them some words that they can use! -"Luko, say "Sammy stop! I don't like that.""


What do you do when your child hurts others?

  1. Always act quickly when your child hurts someone!
  2. Stop what you were doing and move with an arm length of your child. Get down to their level and speakcalmly yet firmly and tell your child what to do instead of hurting. "Hunter, Stop hitting Sarah. Ask her nicely for the toy." And praise your child if they do.
  3. Teach them to be gentle
  4. Show your child how to be gentle, such as stroking hair instead of pulling it. Patting their back instead of hitting it. Let your child spend a few seconds practicing how to be gentle. Sometimes it helps to put your hand over your child's hand and gently guide them through the actions. Again always praise.


If it happens again

If it occurs again within the same hour, or your child resists you guiding their hand to show them how to be gentle, give them some "quiet time."

Tell your child what they have done wrong and the consequence. "David, you are still hurting Amelia! You need to go to quiet time."

Quiet time is removing your attention from your child and having them sit quietly for a short period of time. Sitting your child next to where the problem had occurred, on the couch or in a playpen. Tell your child they must be quiet for one minute before they can come out of quiet time. "David, the timer doesn't start until you are quiet."

Always give them a second chance - Always return a child to the activity where the problem had occurred. Let them have the chance to show you that they can practice playing well. Praise your child when they do play well!!

You may need to repeat quiet time or even a timeout a number of times before your child stops hurting others.