Why do Children Bite?
I can still remember the first time my child bit another. The childcare centre my child went to dealt with it so well – but I was left shocked and embarrassed. Since then, I have learnt that biting is not as uncommon as I thought it was and there are a lot of different reasons why.
And, because knowledge shared is power multiplied – here is what I know.
Up to a quarter of all children will bite someone at some stage, and it usually happens between the ages of 1 to 3 years old. By 4, biting has usually stopped.
The most common reason that a child will bite is because of frustration. Similar to the reason that toddlers have tantrums – they don’t yet have the language skills to express how they feel, especially when they are struggling with something.
The next most common reasons are when a child is either bored or has a case of the “overs” – overtired, overstimulated, overwhelmed.
Or perhaps a child is still teething and has a need for oral stimuli.
Lastly – they could just be experimenting or seeking attention (which absolutely works – just not usually good attention).
What can I do?
OBSERVE OBSERVE OBSERVE
- Be aware – observe your child so you can understand the situations they struggle with
- Do they bite when in a large group?
- Do they bite when playing one on one?
- Children often clench their teeth before they bite – an unmistakable sign
- Look for triggers. Is sharing or taking turns the issue? Do they want to be left alone?
- The more you observe and understand the better you can anticipate when a bite might occur
If your child is FRUSTRATED
- Step in when you see a situation escalating – don’t wait too long
- Act BEFORE your child bites
- Distraction is every mother’s secret weapon – have a favourite toy, song or snack ready
- Start working on the words your child will need – encourage the use of short sentences like “That’s my toy” “I’m angry with you” “
If your child is BORED
- A bored child needs more engagement
- Try new activities – dancing or a new book
- Go on a walk
- Change the environment
If your child is OVER IT
- Be disciplined about nap time and snack time – keep those routines tight
- Remember your child might need a break from a crowd or noise (just like we do)
- Remove your toddler from any situation that seems to escalate this kind of stress – sometimes just a cuddle, walk, or a look out the window is all that’s needed.
If your child needs ORAL STIMULI
- Teething pain still affects toddlers
- Offer a teether, hard biscuit or carrot
After a bite react swiftly
- Take your child somewhere quiet to calm down
- If your child is teething, find something to chomp on
- Teach your child that biting is wrong: Use simple but firm words. Try, “that’s biting, that’s wrong” or a firm “no”
- Explain that it hurts others and why you don’t like them doing it
- If your child is biting to get attention give the victim lots of sympathy and turn your back on the biter – this gives a clear message that biting won’t get them the desired attention
- If time-out is one of your methods, now’s the time to use it
- If the bite was over a toy or treat, remove it for a short while
Remember to praise your child when they are good. Catch them behaving well and be generous with praise
Top Ten things to look for when choosing a childcare centre for your child
Everyone knows why a preschool education is important. The fact your child will be school ready has a lifelong impact on education and learning. Not to mention social skills and creativity. We all know the right childcare centre can be a hugely beneficial and supportive experience for you and your family. So, how do you choose a childcare centre? What do you look for? How do we best make this really big decision?
- First and foremost, how safe is the childcare centre? This is one of the most important aspects.
- Do you want a childcare centre close to your home or place of work? There are benefits to both so consider this carefully.
- What are the people like? Did you get a warm feeling when you met them? Don’t discount mother’s and father’s intuition. You need to feel comfortable too, and having someone you trust and can talk to is vital.
- Cost and Benefits. Childcare centres vary in what they cost and offer. In New Zealand every childcare receives government funding but this only covers a very basic level of care and environment. A centre that is free or has very low fees might suit your budget but you probably won’t get nappies or food included
- Every centre has their own programme. What is the underlying philosophy of the centre and is it something you agree with?
- What your child eats makes a huge difference to their day. Does the centre offer food? Is it fresh and made on site? Does the centre promote healthy eating?
- Does the centre have a newsletter? Do they have online portfolios so you can access and share (with grandparents etc) learning stories? Is there a private Facebook group to get photo and activity updates? Is there someone you can call who always answers the phone and allows you to talk to a teacher in the same room as your child?
- All centres have different philosophies on playground layout and equipment. Safety is a priority. Is there plenty of shade? Does each age and stage have their own exclusive space so that they can explore and play without risk?
- Never underestimate the value of parking. Does the centre have dedicated car parks or will you have to fight for one?
- While it goes without saying that teachers should be qualified and experienced, are you looking for anything extra? Does your child speak a second language that you would like supported?
Some more tips on how to choose a childcare centre:
Take your time. Don’t leave it until the week before you are due back at work.
Take your baby and see if they enjoy the visit or gravitate towards any of the teachers or areas of play.
Visit more than one so you have a comparison. Take someone with you as a second pair of eyes.
Don’t rush the visit. Ask lots of questions and observe the teachers and children.
Most of all, trust your instinct!!
COVID-19 and Childcare in New Zealand
COVID-19 has had a huge impact on Childcare in NZ, and around the world. We are open and welcoming back our whanau and tamariki after the recent lockdowns and want to share with you some of the health and safety practices that we have in place. We have always had a focus on hygiene health, but this has now increased due to COVID-19.
We would like to share with you some of the specific health measures we undertake.
- Parents are asked to keep sick children at home. If a sick child comes to the service or shows symptoms they will be sent home
- Teachers who feel sick or have flu symptoms will also stay home
- MOE have lifted the minimum indoor temperature requirement from 16 degrees to 18 degrees – however we set our heat pumps to 20 degrees as we feel 18 is a bit cold
- Social or measurable distancing is not required for our teachers as it is not practical to safely nurture and care for young children at a distance. However, our teachers follow strict hand hygiene as they move from caring for one child to another
- We ensure hand sanitiser is available but staff/puapii supervise its location and use – We have always had this available for adults. We don’t advocate for young children to use this as it is very abrasive on delicate skin. Handwashing is our preference for children and we make it fun and easy for all ages
- We are advised to disinfect and clean all surfaces daily – this has always been our practise as well as a professional clean after hours, however, we are doing this more frequently and being even more observant of our children as they try to “share” their food and toys with their friends.
- Contact tracing is in place to record who is on site each day
- PPE is not required or recommended as necessary in any educational facility by Public Health officials
We talk about why childcare is important all the time.
People have different opinion on why childcare is important but here is what our parents tell us.
Childcare is important to me because :
- so I can go to work and not have to worry about childcare
- so my child can make friends
- so my child can get ready for school
- to connect with his dad’s culture
- childcare is important so my child can learn
The Way We Talk to Children Matters
The words we use and how we say them make a huge difference to how our tamariki respond to us.
Do you use your child’s name to get their attention before giving them an instruction?
Do you stop what you’re doing and make eye contact with your child when you talk to them?
What about your tone – are you annoyed or encouraging, or perhaps distracted by something else?
Use Your Child’s Name
Call your child’s name until you have their attention before you speak if you want to know for sure they have heard you.
Connect with your child using eye contact. You may need to get down to their level or sit at the table with them. Not only does it demonstrate good manners, but it also helps you to listen to each other. Say your child’s name until you get their eye contact, especially before giving them a direction. It is important that they give you their attention, and you should model the same behaviour for them.
Try not to interrupt or scold your child when they are telling you a story. Children will lose interest in sharing their feelings with you if you shift away from their story and use the time to teach them a lesson.
What Are You Really Asking?
Sometimes we are happy to give a child a choice – “Do you want to wear shorts or a skirt?”
At other times a child is not being given – “Get into bed now.”
It is important to be clear and not give the impression we are offering a choice when we’re not. This is confusing for children and probably won’t obtain the response we want – “Should we get ready for bed?” is not the right request unless you are happy for the answer to be “no”.
The I NEED/YOU NEED request
Using “I need you to…” is a very clear way of communicating with a child. They are not being given a choice; they are being given a clear request. “I need you to get into bed now.”
When Children Make Mistakes
When we observe a child who has made a mistake, or two children having a disagreement it is important not to assume who is to blame. Our language matters in these moments.
Stating what you observe is the best way to find a solution or to resolve the problem. Trying to understand is always better than trying to find out who is to blame.
“I see that you both want to play with the same toy.”
“I see the juice has spilt on the floor.”
“I can see that you are sad.”
With the “I see” statement a child does not feel judged and is more likely to respond by telling you what actually happened rather than avoiding the truth to escape the yucky feeling of blame and judgement.
Another great way to understand what is going on with your child is to simply ask them.
“Tell me about your picture.”
“Tell me about why you feel sad.”
“Tell me about what happened.”
This in as open-ended question that doesn’t assume you already know. It gives your child the opportunity to think it through as they talk to you. Remember not to interrupt when your child is trying to find the right words.
How you speak to your child matters. Your tone, your facial expression, and most of all your words.
“an uncontrolled outburst of anger and frustration, typically in a young child.”
Does your child have tantrums?
Temper tantrums are very normal between the ages of one to three and are just as common in boys and girls. From crying and screaming, to hitting, kicking, biting and breath holding – temper tantrums all result from a child who is still learning how to deal with frustration.
When a child doesn’t have the language skills to express how they are feeling they become frustrated. Maybe they are tired, hungry or don’t understand why they can’t have what they want. Learning how to deal with frustration is a skill that takes time to develop.
When a baby starts to walk and gain their first taste of independence and control over the world around them, they often want a lot more independence than they are ready for. When they discover that they can’t do it by themselves, or have what older children do, they become frustrated.
How Can We Minimize Tantrums?
Try these tips the next time you see a tantrum brewing
- Give your toddler some choices and control. Offer your child some choices that work for both of you. Maybe a choice of water or milk. Or perhaps where to have their bedtime story. Giving your child choices often has a better response than asking them a question that only has ‘yes’ or ‘no’ as an answer (because we all know they prefer to say ‘no’).
- Tantrum proof your house. If you know there are objects and activities that your child is not ready for, put them away. This avoids you having to constantly say no to a child that doesn’t understand why they can see something but not be allowed to play with it.
- The power of distraction. Does your child have a favourite game, song, toy or snack? The power of distraction is a great tool when a toddler is feeling frustrated and heading towards a tantrum. Sometimes just going outside for some fresh air or to smell some flowers is all that’s needed to avoid a tantrum.
- Choose your battles. As your child gets older you need to start allowing them to have more opportunity and the chance to prove they can cope with more independence. Consider your child’s request carefully, maybe it is time to say yes.
- Every child has a limit (just like adults). If you know your toddler is tired, maybe you should cut your errands short and head home. If you know your child gets hungry at a certain time and you will be out and about, take a snack with you. Understanding your child’s limit is vital to avoid a tantrum caused by tiredness or hunger.
- Reward your toddler with positive attention. Catch your child in the act of good behaviour (rather than catching them in the act of bad behaviour).
What Should I Do During a Tantrum?
Don’t make matters worse by expressing your own frustration in a similar way. Your job is to model calm behaviour and speak positively so that your child can learn by example.
Make an effort to understand why your child is upset. Tantrums are triggered by different things. Maybe your child needs a cuddle or a snack. Tantrums should be handled differently depending on why your child is upset. React to their tantrum with a solution that will help them.
If a tantrum is happening to get your attention, try ignoring it. If a tantrum happens after you have said ‘no’ to a request, stay calm and don’t give a lot of explanations for why your child can’t have what they want. Try the power of distraction instead.
If a tantrum happens when your child is asked to do something it is also best to ignore the tantrum. Make sure that you follow through and get your child to complete the task when they are calm.
Toddlers who are in danger of hurting themselves or others during a tantrum should be taken to a quiet, safe place to calm down. This also applies to tantrums in public places.
Memorize the acronym H.A.L.T. because tantrums often happen because your toddler is :
When a toddler can’t tell you what they want, feel or need, it can result in a tantrum. But as language skills develop, tantrums will decrease.
Remember that tantrums don’t last forever and the more consistent and calm you are, the quicker they will become a distant memory.
Children and the Power of Music Making
The Power of Music and its relationship to the mental and social development of children has captured the attention of parents, teachers, and researchers for a very long time. The benefits and power of music making for young children has been studied and the results strongly suggest we start making music a part of every child’s life.
The good news is you don’t need to be a musician (or musical at all for that matter) to introduce your child to making music. For very young children, making music at home has better results than formal lessons – it also costs nothing and can begin at any age.
A study of over 3000 children by the University of Queensland found that regular informal music-making with children under 3 years old may have benefits above and beyond those of reading
This research also discovered that the best results come from shared musical play in the home.
The study concluded that regular musical play from the age of 2 can lead to better literacy, numeracy, and emotion regulation. Additionally, the impact of musical activity had a strong link to positive social behaviour and attention regulation.
These findings were based on situations where the child’s musical activities were informal and shared, typically with a parent – essentially a playful and fun experience. The true benefit of musical play lies in the wonderful blend of creativity, sound, and face-to-face interaction.
Being playful with sound is something we’re all born with. The simple pleasure of making sound is available to us all, using whatever tools we have.
From motor skills to memory skills, music ignites all areas of child development and invites the body and mind to work together. In song, children are exposed to new sounds and words placed in a different context. Dancing is also a natural outcome as children move to the beat – building their gross motor skills as they do.
WHERE DO YOU START MAKING MUSIC WITH YOUR CHILD?
The first place to start is with the human voice, (remember your baby is not Simon Cowell judging your ability!) All that matters is imagination and having fun.
Babies recognize the melody of a song long before they understand the words. Simple short songs that you can repeat over and over are best. Try making up one or two lines about bathing, dressing, or eating, that you can sing while you do these activities.
Toddlers love to dance and move to music. The key to toddler music is repetition, which encourages language and memorization. Try singing a familiar song and inserting a silly word in the place of the correct word, like “Mary had a little spider” instead of lamb. Add in some percussion instruments from the kitchen cabinets. Perhaps whistles and bells could follow, even a toy piano for the more ambitious. Give your child a drum (pot and wooden spoon) to practice a rhythm.
Pre-schoolers enjoy singing for singings sake. They enjoy repeated words and melodies, and songs with instructions. Look online for examples and ideas of how to incorporate actions and instruments.
Forget the Mozart Effect and Baby Einstein, you can be your child’s first music teacher. Unlocking the power of music making with your child starts at home.
ENROL ONLINE TODAY!
Enrol your child today! Include a visit before your tamariki begins to get to know us. We are looking forward to meeting you!