Childhood biting: a balanced approach

Children biting other children is often the most common and the most difficult repercussions of group care – particularly with toddler aged children.

Children quickly learn that a bite is a powerful, quick and effective communication method!  Biting usually provides immediate and dramatic reactions from others – and can be imitated.

The team at Renaissance International School, Saigon, recognise group care can pose difficulties, that biting is primal and that it will occur in every early childhood facility. The matter can escalate if not managed in a professional way and therefore, at Renaissance, we aim to support young children and their families with this sensitive issue.

Toddlers communicate in a physical manner before and after verbal language is learned and used as a method of communication.  Toddlers touch, grab, push, shove and occasionally bite – and not necessarily to cause harm or distress to others. Young children do not always connect the social consequences with their actions as they are just beginning to understand cause and effect relationships.
Some reasons why a child might bite:

*   Experimentation / Exploration
*   Cause and effect
*   Teething / other stressors
*   Frustration / feeling disempowered
*   Over / Under stimulation
*   Imitation / attention
*   Asserting independence

“Biting is a natural phenomena that has virtually no lasting developmental significance – it is an anti-social act, but it’s an act of an individual not yet equipped to be fully social – who is just beginning life as a citizen.”  – Greenman & Stonehouse, 1994.


What we do at Renaissance to minimise episodes of biting

Renaissance image for biting story


Supervision and the monitoring of potential situations is a key element to supporting and minimising biting. Teachers engage in playful interaction, realising that toddlers in groups require careful guidance and interjection in their play.

Children are gently encouraged to participate in the administration of any first aid and comfort of the bitten child. Teachers understand that unjust and unfair treatment of the ‘biter’ is not appropriate and doesn’t assist the situation.  Staff do not raise their voices or call out a child’s name which may create a fuss or confusion and bring additional negative reinforcement to a situation.

Teachers demonstrate and encourage children to adopt healthy assertiveness practices with language and gestures.

Acceptable alternatives to childhood biting are taught and modelled – both in the event of a bite as well as when children are engaged in play. (Role play and the use of dolls and puppets is an example).

The ‘who, what, when, where and why’ of a biting incident is recorded and shared with families of children involved.  Anecdotal information may help to determine a trigger for the biting.

Communication with families is valuable in assisting to identify what may be a cause for biting and to respond to it accordingly.
If you are experiencing difficulties with biting in the home – with siblings, friends or others, please inform staff.

Working together during these difficult times to help children develop alternative behaviours is our priority.

Kerry Cole

 * Article contributed by Kerry Cole, Early Years and Key Stage 1 Leader with Renaissance International School.

Share this story, choose your platform!

About the author:

Leave a Comment

Here’s What Educators Need to Know About Cultivating Critical Thinking Skills in Students

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world, the ability to think critically is more than just an academic requirement—it’s a fundamental skill that empowers students to navigate complex problems, make informed decisions, and adapt to new challenges. As educators, our mission extends beyond teaching basic knowledge; we aim to equip students with the tools they need

Read More »

The Importance of Youth Development in Soccer

Youth development in soccer is a critical component of building a sustainable and successful soccer ecosystem. It is the bedrock upon which the future of the sport is built, fostering not only the skills necessary for athletic achievement but also instilling values such as teamwork, discipline, and resilience. This article delves into the multifaceted importance

Read More »

10 Best Practices for Creating Inclusive Classrooms

In today’s educational landscape, the creation of inclusive classrooms is not just a goal but a necessity. Inclusive education ensures that all students, regardless of their backgrounds or abilities, receive equitable access to learning opportunities. This approach not only enhances student engagement but also improves overall learning outcomes by fostering an environment where diversity is

Read More »

The Diverse Diagnoses Provided By radiologist clinic

Radiology clinics use medical imaging technologies like X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasounds, and PET scans to provide diagnosis and treatment support for a wide range of health conditions. The detailed images produced by these tests allow radiologist clinic like PRP Imaging to make accurate diagnoses that give your doctor crucial information. Cancer Diagnosis One of

Read More »

How To Effectively Treat Chin Acne?

Pesky pimples and inflamed acne erupting along the chin and jawline can be as painful as they are frustrating to resolve. As per acne experts Healthy Remedies, unlike fleeting teenage breakouts, adult-onset chin acne often results from internal hormonal changes or imbalances. Healing and preventing recurring blemishes requires addressing root causes along with applying targeted

Read More »

What to Do When Your Ex Stops Paying Their Share of Debts

Divorce is often compared to a stormy sea that we navigate, seeking calm waters and fair settlements. Yet, even with the best intentions and court orders, there’s always a chance that your ex may not fulfill their obligations when it comes to shared debts. When the tide turns and your ex stops paying their fair

Read More »