University of Phoenix
August 23, 2009
“Biting creates anxiety and stress for all concerned” (Atiles, Stegelin, Long 1997) in a child care setting. This behavior is part sensory integration and motor exploration. It is something that occurs in children under three, mostly in infants and toddlers. Some reasons for biting includes: frustration, lack of confidence, lack of motor development, sensory integration problems, imitation, and teething. “Although there are many possible explanations for biting behavior, the fact remains that it is a practical issue for caregivers, adults, and young children” (Atiles, Stegelin, Long 1997). Parents, caregivers, and other children find biting to be a major ordeal. Reactions when a child bites range from dismissive to overwhelmed. Children that bite are not misbehaving, but simply doing what comes natural to them. “The most important thing to keep in mind is that children have no instinct to attack one another. Children's primary focus is to explore, learn and play with their friends, family and siblings. Once you pinpoint the reason behind the biting, curbing it is really simple” (Dwyer 2002) “Biting is a very emotional topic for the parents of toddlers and preschoolers. We tend to look at a child who bites with more disdain and perhaps more fear than a child the same age that kicks or hits. There is something wild and animal-like in a bite that makes it particularly upsetting, even if the risks of physical harm are quite small” (Kutner 2007). Major changes at home can cause a child to bite, such as a parent going back to work after being home with them for so long. Infants and toddlers do not have the words to make their feelings known and yet more frustration builds. Although this frustration builds, a child never releases it when biting. Sensory integration dysfunction is described as being the senses not being able to function properly. “Dysfunction of Sensory Integration (DSI) is a neurological disability in which the brain is unable to accurately process the information coming in from the senses. Individuals may be oversensitive to some sensations, wildly overreacting to touch or movement or loss of balance; under sensitive to some sensations, needing crashing or banging or sharp sounds and flavors to register anything; or a combination of both” (Mauro). This type of dysfunction is one of many theories on why children bite. The ways the child feels make them act out in ways such as biting. When a child is introduced to a child care center they see many new behaviors such as kissing and biting, and hitting. After seeing these new ideas they basically put them into memory where they are stored until they can try them out. The first chance they get they start to try these things out and the behavior problem explodes. Even in the most loving of homes children see kissing that they may think is actually biting and therefore imitate that as well. “Young children often experience frustration. Growing up is a real struggle. Drinking from a cup is great, yet nursing or sucking from a bottle is also wonderful. Sometimes it would be nice to remain a baby. Toddlers don’t have good control over their bodies yet. t. They have trouble asking for things or requesting help. They haven’t learned how to play with others. When you don’t have words to express your feelings, sometimes you show others by hitting, pushing, or biting” (Oesterreich) Frustration is probably the number one reason for biting. Children feel a sense that they cannot communicate and so then bite to make their feelings known. Research is the first step to learn about this behavior problem. While staying calm, talk to co-workers, parents, and administrators. They may have some insight on how to change or modify the biting going on in your class. Surveys and questionnaires may have to be used when one on one communication is not available. The next step is...
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