Having experienced my own children being bitten—and also biting others—I consider myself a mommy/doctor biting control pro!
Why do kids bite, and how should adults respond?
Biting is a way for a child to express frustration, anger and loss of control. It is a normal part of social development, although not an acceptable part. There are certain behaviors that parents, teachers and caregivers should simply ignore and let children work out for themselves. Biting is not one of them.
Here are Dr. Jen’s Tips on Biting:
- A supervising adult should intervene.
- Pull children apart immediately, and keep the children in separate locations until the dust settles.
- Make it explicitly clear to the biter that this behavior is not tolerable.
- I suggest a “time out” for a period of time one minute per age in a location separate from other children.
- Subsequently, remind the child about biting after the time out, and repeat this through questioning (“What did we learn today about biting?”) again later the same day.
- Talk to other adults taking care of your child if this is a recurrent problem.
- Make sure to notify the parents of both children, preferably not giving out any names.
Medical Facts About Human Bites
If your child is bitten by another child, it is important to seek advice from your health care provider in order to determine if any intervention is necessary. Here are Dr. Jen’s tips:
- Usually, with no broken skin, bites need no treatment aside from washing with soap and water.
- With bites that penetrate the skin, your doctor may decide to supply antibiotics.
- Also with skin penetrating bites, your doctor may assure vaccination status for tetanus and Hepatitis B and assure no additional medication is necessary.
- If there is concern for HIV infection for the biter, this is a special circumstance that requires careful consideration and specialized health care intervention.