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Why do kids bite their friends?

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Why do kids bit their friends?

Yesterday hubby picked up our son and was informed that one of the other children in our son’s class decided to take a bite of our son! According to the teacher, they were all outside when the incident happened.

Like really!?

Last year we had a similar incident at the playschool. Both times as per feedback from the teachers, it was unsolicited.

Does my son give out some serious “bite me” pheromone?

plural noun: pheromones
  1. a chemical substance produced and released into the environment by an animal, especially a mammal or an insect, affecting the behaviour or physiology of others of its species.

What may be the cause…Biting seems to be quite common in this age group. The one reason I have heard often since the first biting incident is that toddlers tend to bite out of frustration. Frustration because they can’t find a way of expressing their feelings, such as anger or joy. If the child can’t say “I’m upset with you” or “I’m so happy you’re playing with me” they resort to biting to express that feeling. Other reasons that toddlers bite are:

  • are overwhelmed by something in the situation they are in
  • are experimenting, basically, they want to see what will happen
  • need more active time, they probably want to be running around climbing a little more
  • are over-tired, not getting enough sleep at night
  • are teething, remember they are toddlers and not all their teeth may have cut yet


What can parents do?

As a parent with a child that bites you can …

Try and understand what was happening or happens before your child bites someone.

Does your child happen to bite the same person or do they bite only boys or girls

Does your child only bite when they are in a certain environment

Does your child only bite when a certain adult is around

If you begin to understand the triggers you will be able to work towards stopping the biting or at least deter it. You could distract their attention by directing the attention elsewhere. Or have a talk with them and help them understand that there are other ways that they can communicate their frustration with the “offender” . Should your child be biting due to lack of oral stimulation, perhaps consider adding snacks that will allow them to chew, like biltong  ?

Just remember that your child that’s biting is venting their frustration, so keep your own frustrations, annoyance or embarrassment about the situation in check when you address it with your child. If you must, calm yourself down first before speaking to the child. Mention how the bitten child is feeling, and how you wonder if they will be fine. Don’t focus on what your child did and pour them with too much attention. You need to direct the focus to the child that was heard when addressing the biting with your toddler.


What is the risk to my child that has been bitten …

Apparently, most bites between toddlers are harmless and don’t really break the skin but if they do, it isn’t too deep to cause harm or infection. My first concern was Hepatitis that’s transmitted through blood. I found this table useful.

Infection How it spreads What is the risk and what should I do?
Hepatitis B Passed from person to person through blood and other body fluids. It can be passed through sexual intercourse, from mother to baby, and by sharing needles and syringes.The virus is not passed by contact of saliva with normal skin. Only a bite that breaks the skin can pass hepatitis B and even then, the chance of spread is rare.
  • A child with hepatitis B who bites another child and breaks the skin may expose the bitten child to hepatitis B infection.
  • A child who bites a child who has hepatitis B may be exposed to the virus if blood from the bitten child enters the biter’s mouth.
  • If you are told:
    • that your child bit another child, or
    • that your child was bitten, AND
    • Contact your local public health unit or a doctor right away.
Hepatitis C Hepatitis C is also passed from person to person through blood or other body fluids.
  • Hepatitis C infection is rare in young children.
  • Hepatitis C infection from a bite by a young child is extremely unlikely and has never been reported.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) HIV is passed through sexual intercourse, from mother to baby before or during delivery, or through blood when needles and syringes are shared.
  • The chance of transmitting HIV through the bite of a child, even when the skin is broken, is extremely unlikely and has never been reported.
  • Giving a child anti-HIV drugs after a bite is not recommended.


How to treat a bite wound

  •  if the skin is not broken
    • clean the bite area with soap and water. Apply a cold compress and soothe the child
  • if the skin is broken
    • let the wound bleed, but do not squeeze it
    • clean the wound with soap and waterWhen Toddlers Bite
    • apply a mild antiseptic
    • inform both sets of parents (biter and the bitten)
    • establish if the bitten child has been vaccinated against tetanus and if the child has received all the recommended doses, if not, refer the child to a doctor or nearest clinic for a tetanus vaccine
    • if both children haven’t received 3 doses of hepatitis B vaccine inform the doctor, usually Hepatitis B vaccine will be given immediately to the child
    • monitor the wound over the next few days, if it :
      • swells
      • changes colour
      • pus build up
      • high fever
      • bitten area is red and feels hot to touch …. take your child to see a doctor
  • if your child hasn’t received the Hepatitis B vaccine yet, consult your doctor

Has something similar happened to your child?

Was your child bitten or the biter, and how did you handle it?


information sources

About The Author


Parenting and Lifestyle Dad Blogger. If you enjoyed this post feel free to share it, or if you would like to engage with me you can find me on TWITTER @twodadsandakid or INSTAGRAM @twodadsandakid Follow my blog so you never miss out!

1 Comment

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