Dealing with biting - The Play Doctors

Identify why the child is biting
Could it be because:

  1. Attention seeking
  2. Seeking sensory input
  3. Frustration
  4. Reaction to an over stimulation
  5. Pain in the mouth
  6. Expressing an emotion
  7. Defending themselves


Strategies and Responses

Respond quickly and use a consistent approach. Tell the child to ‘stop’ (using
visual symbols if appropriate), deal with the child who has been bitten. Once
they are comforted and the bite has been cleaned, return to the biter.

 Communicate with the child ‘(name) stop biting, biting hurts’. Have visual
rules up around the setting and ask the child what teeth are for. Refer to the
(positive) rules.

 Observe children and see when biting situations may arise. Be prepared and
provide distraction activities. If the child has difficulty taking turns or sharing,
use an object that gets passed between the children and held whilst it is their
turn to play (example ‘Talking with Teddies available from

 If the child is old enough give them alternative forms of behaviour rather than
biting. “If you are angry then come and tell Mrs. Usher”, “If you want to play
with the toy then ask nicely” etc.

 Use social stories and ask them to empathise with how the child who has
been bitten is feeling, use emotion faces.

 Reduce sensory stimuli that might be upsetting the child/ increase appropriate
sensory input by providing things that can be bitten i.e. a teething ring or
chewy tubes.

 When talking to the child about biting, create a calming environment to
reduce their anger/frustration.

 Follow child’s behaviour management plan (if there is one)

 Use distraction techniques

 Praise good behaviour

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18 Mar 2019

By Matthew Duester
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