Sunday, November 22, 2009

What to do if you have a biter

Over the years I have dealt with a few biters. The first thing to do is to consider the age of the child and the time, place and reason for the biting. Here are some simple guidelines to identify the size of the problem.

If the child is between 18 months and 30 months, biting is usually a communication issue. Children of this age do not have the language skills to communicate their wants. I have known children of this age that will bite if someone is approaching them too quickly, if they are frustrated, tired, or upset. This is when it is critical to know the context.

One of my favorite biting stories happened many years ago with a girl and boy in my three year old class. Patrick was a child who often teased, picked on, bullied others (in a minor way that only three year olds can do). Caroline was a little girl that had so many ideas in her head that she loved to share with others what they could do and how (some would call it bossy, but she was really helpful to the more timid children). Patrick was trying to make Caroline leave his favorite play area one day and he was trying just about every idea he could think of. It was early December. Caroline stood in front of him and stated, "Patrick you are a bad boy. You are so bad that you are not getting anything for Christmas this year." Patrick looked worried because Caroline controled a lot in the classroom. he said, "I am too." Caroline responded, "No you are not because I know Santa Claus and I am going to tell hi how bad you are any you are not getting anything." Patrick was looking distressed. Caroline went in for the kill with, "And you know what, you are so bad that even Jesus doesn't love you either." Patrick on hearing that grabbed Caroline's hand and he bit her on the arm.

Some older children bite because it is a strategy that gets them what they want. It is an ultimate response. Infant bite because it is part of exploring their world. Put anthing near their mouths and they will bite, gum, or taste it.

Of the more than 50 biters I have dealt with I have really only had one that totally perplexed me and that was really difficult in making a behavior change and he is a young man with PDD (Pervasive Developmental Delay).

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE IT!!!! I like Patrick already! And I am familiar with PDD. So are you going to do Installment Two and give us suggestions?

    Happy Thanksgiving! love, Jane and Fam