Biting and Hitting | Emma's Dairy India

Child By Year

Dealing with biting and hitting


How to deal with your child’s biting and hitting behaviour

A certain footballer put biting in the headlines during the 2014 World Cup. While there was general outrage there were also endless jokes made about his behaviour. For many parents biting is far from a laughing matter.

A child biting other children, or their carers, is unacceptable behaviour. Some parents think biting is worse than hitting. Possibly because it can leave a mark and seems more animalistic. But hitting is also totally unacceptable.

In addition to and probably more important than disciplining your child for biting or hitting another person, you must educate them and make them see how their behaviour was wrong.

Children may bite or hit for any number of reasons. They may be struggling to cope in a situation, may be unable to express an emotion or unable to communicate their need for some personal space. Understanding, or at least trying to understand, their reason for biting or hitting should help you formulate the best response.

Dealing with biting and hitting

  • You may be upset, annoyed or embarrassed by your child’s behaviour but try to calm down before dealing with it. An emotional response from you will only make matters worse
  • Be firm, but not emotional or angry, when you tell your child that hitting/biting hurts. “Look, Aryan is crying because you bit him. Biting hurts."
  • Pay more attention to the child who has been bitten or hit. If your child has been using bad behaviour to get more attention this reaction will clearly demonstrate that biting/hitting does not result in more attention. Paying attention to the hurt child also demonstrates care and concern and teaches empathy
  • If your child is able to have a conversation talk to her about how she should have dealt with the situation instead of biting or hitting. For example, explain how she could have asked for her toy back
  • Help your child recognise if she is feeling anger or frustration and suggest other ways to deal with those feelings; making noises, punching cushions, banging a drum, running round the garden
  • Find some other activity for your child to do which will use her energy in a constructive way
  • Don’t force the children to continue playing together

Shaming the child or doling out a harsh punishment rarely cures them of biting or hitting. An aggressive response from an adult does not teach a child the social skills she needs to cope with the situations that trigger her bad behaviour.

And never bite or hit your child back to “show them how it feels”. This only teaches them that it is ok to bite or hit people when you are upset and it is child abuse.

If your child is the one who has been bitten or hit it is hoped that the parent of the offending child will deal with it. If they don’t, you can ask the parent to teach their child that it’s inappropriate. If this seems unlikely remove your child and yourself from the situation.

Sign up Today Watch Now