How Do I Stop My Child from Biting? Positive Hacks to Handle It!

Like it? Share it!

Posted by: Sue Atkins


Get it on iTunes Get in on Android

Show notes:

In this episode:

  • 10 Ways to STOP Guilt – The Biggest Gremlin of Parenting.
  • The ABC of Potty Training Video Series
  • WIN This Month’s Book Gift Bundle! ‘My Skin Your Skin’ ‘Bernie and Boatie’ and The Can Do Kid’s Journal: Discover Your Confidence Superpower!  from #TheSueAtkinsBookClub



Answer : 

Every parent wants their child to be well-behaved and you mustn’t feel embarrassed about it because if your child bites, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with your parenting or your little one! It’s not even an indication that your child will continue to stay aggressive when they grow up.

It may be because of various nonthreatening reasons, such as feeling frustrated, exploring their surroundings or stress. Some children may bite when they need to feel powerful or attract attention.

Why toddlers bite.

I think it’s really helpful to understand why your toddler may start biting before you start trying to change their behaviour. One of the reasons is because toddlers have limited developed language at this age.

But some of the probable and common reasons that toddlers bite are:


Cutting teeth hurts and chewing on something usually relieves that nagging aching pain and since toddlers are egocentric and can’t put themselves in the place of others they don’t understand that they are hurting another child or you yet. It’s a natural stage in their development that you need to understand.

This explains the look of puzzlement, lack of concern and disconnection that you often see on their faces when you shout at them in horror and shock. They don’t understand about empathy or another person’s pain yet.

Sensory Exploration.

Anyone who has spent any time with babies and toddlers knows that they put everything in their mouths so this also includes other children and adults sometimes!

Biting is sometimes a way of learning about another child usually for babies, but sometimes for toddlers too, and is not a sign of malice.

 Cause and Effect.

Around about 9-months-old, depending on the maturity of your little one, babies and toddlers begin to make the connection that their actions have consequences on the people around them. They quickly learn “If I bite my brother Joshua, I hear a high pitched scream from Mum and get a lot of attention. I wonder if she will keep coming over if I do it again.”

They are learning about getting your attention and any attention is better than being ignored. So one quick strategy is to pay far more attention to the person who has been bitten and to calmly but swiftly remove them from the scene of the crime and say ‘No biting!’ and ignore them for a few minutes.

Don’t try and stop your little one by smacking them or biting them back! They will just copy that behaviour next as you are their primary role model.

Biting can sometimes be a way of gaining attention so be careful not to give more attention to the biter than the victim. Remember a big telling off still means your child is in the spotlight – even if they are getting into trouble.

Toddlers are learning to have an impact on their world and biting definitely has an impact.


Sometimes your little one can learn new negative behaviours, like biting, through playing with other toddlers and they can start suddenly biting when they go to a play group or nursery.

Biting is an extremely contagious behaviour because modelling or copying the actions of others is an important and powerful way for your toddler to learn. So just relax if this happens but be very clear on where you stand with regards biting, be specific and clear in how you want to handle it, and tell your little one in a voice that means business what you expect from them so they can learn from the experience quickly so you can all move on positively.


A common example of when a toddler bites is over a struggle with a toy. Toddlers have very limited language skills so biting is a quick, and very effective way, to register a complaint and to assert their authority over ownership with another child!

Frustration, Tiredness or Stress.

Some toddlers bite when they are tired or hungry. Sometimes toddlers bite when they feel rushed or when one of you is working away from home or is late home and they have missed you. It’s a combination of frustration, tiredness and stress. So just be on the look out for a change in circumstances and be understanding and compassionate for the underlying reason but not the behaviour!

Anxiety and Insecurity

Toddlers often resort to aggressive behaviour when they feel insecure. Pick up your little one and cuddle them when visitors arrive or they are going into new situations. While they are getting used to new experiences, let them stay close to you. Don’t vanish into the kitchen straight away chatting to friends for a coffee but show them how to play with new children by joining in yourself for the first ten minutes or so to reassure them.

What do I do when toddlers bite?

While it is important to know that biting is a common age related behaviour for toddlers, it’s just as important to accept that biting is not an acceptable behaviour.

You must help your toddler to control their urge to bite other children by responding quickly and firmly.

“Stop” is a better word that “No” as it captures your toddler’s immediate attention and describes the action you want to stop. It’s also a positive word as opposed to a negative one.

Then take immediate action because discipline for toddlers is most effective when it occurs immediately after their unacceptable behaviour. Where possible, the biting child should usually be dealt with first and should be removed from the situation and given some “Time out” and a chance to cool down.

Then you can look at the possible reasons for the biting and make judgements about how to help your child learn from the experience. If they are hungry, tired or stressed then it’s up to you to look at new ways to prevent those flash points but if it is over a toy show them better ways to share and express themselves.

How can I prevent toddlers from biting?

Preventing biting before it happens is better than dealing with it after it occurs. So be sensitive and observe the moods and needs of your toddler.

Remember that biting is normal no matter how repulsive it is to you as an adult. From the toddler’s perspective, it can serve a similar purpose as an older child’s shove or push.

But it’s important to make it clear to your little one that biting is never acceptable. Save a special tone of voice just for biting so your child recognises it and is far more likely to listen to you!

How long is this going to last?

Most toddlers grow out of this phase when their language develops and they can express themselves more easily.

And most children tend to outgrow the stroppy disobedient phase round about their 40th birthday!

Read more on my blog below:


Vampires at the Nursery! Why Do Toddlers Bite?

Subscribe to my YouTube Channel to win this month’s Gift Bundle from #TheSueAtkinsBookClub

Tell all your friends to subscribe to be in with a chance to win a bundle of books EVERY MONTH.



 Join the Parent Hackers Club

Parenting can be the most rewarding thing you ever do…

but it can also be the hardest too!

Do your kids drive you crazy with their non-stop bickering?

Are you exhausted because your baby or child just won’t sleep?

Is your day filled with tears and uncontrollable toddler tantrums?

Are you unsure of how to handle your teen’s technology use?

Is your child lacking confidence or being bullied?

Are you looking for ways to help your child through a tricky divorce?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and stressed-out then you’re really not alone.

Raising happy, confident kids isn’t easy.

Every parent faces challenges along the way, from teething babies to Instagram-obsessed teens.

But you don’t need to face them alone.

We all need a little help and support sometimes. That’s why I created The Parent Hackers Club.

From well-meaning friends to internet blogs, there’s no shortage of conflicting parenting advice. One person says leave them to self-soothe, the other says cuddle them if they cry! One says have firm boundaries, the other say be flexible! It’s no wonder you’re feeling a little confused.

Over the last 10 years as The Parenting Expert I’ve learned what really works and what doesn’t. I know how to raise confident, resilient, independent kids, no matter your circumstances or your child’s temperament and I’m keen to share my knowledge with you.

In The Parent Hackers Club you’ll get up close and personal with me, getting access to all my best advice, techniques and resources. From podcasts, webinars and expert interviews, to my Members-Only Facebook group. Whether you’re at the beginning of your journey with a young baby, or trying to navigate the treacherous teen years, I’ve plenty of age-appropriate resources and advice for you.

You’ll join hundreds of other like-minded parents who will listen to you, support you and share their stories with you too. Helping you to overcome your parenting challenges and start enjoying the journey.

The Parent Hackers Club is Your Essential Resource For All the Advice and Support You Need To Raise Happy, Confident, Independent Kids.


Clare Luther – Author of The Little Paws Hotel Books

How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish

In this international bestseller, discover the number one practical guide to family life.

Parenting experts Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish provide effective step by step techniques to help you improve and enrich your relationships with your children.

 Learn how to:

  •  Break a pattern of arguments
  • Cope with your child’s negative feelings
  • Engage your child’s co-operation
  • Set clear limits and still maintain goodwill
  • Express your anger without being hurtful
  • Resolve family conflicts peacefully


10 ways to STOP Guilt – The Biggest Gremlin of Parenting!



Why Do Toddlers Bite?


TELL A FRIEND about my podcast, website or YouTube Channel and let’s do this together

 Let’s Build a Community of Caring

Sue Atkins supporting you on your parenting journey

Related product:

We recommend this product for helping with the issues raised on this podcast.


Take a Peek Inside: [foogallery id="401581"] The Can-Do Kid's Journal -  Discover your Confidence Superpower! The Can Do Kid’s Journal:…

View product

Don’t Stew – Ask Sue Parenting Q & A

positive parent daily workout ebook

Free ebook, The Positive Parent Daily Workout

Simply enter your details below to get your very own copy of “The Positive Parent Daily Workout” and learn tips and tricks to use every day with your own children.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
Like it? Share it!