Biting

Biting is a behaviour that involves the use of the teeth or jaw to seize, tear or chew into an object, the self, or another person. 

Behaviour Help is a registered NDIS provider.

child baring teeth with intent to bite

Defining biting behaviour

Biting is a behaviour that involves the use of the teeth or jaw to seize, tear or chew into an object, the self, or another person. Biting can cause injuries that range in severity from a bitemark that barely breaks the skin to broken skin with bleeding, heavy bruising and wounding. The bite may leave a mark or lead to scarring or something serious such as an infection needing medical intervention.

Biting as part of normal development

In normal development, many children go through a stage of biting at one time or another, especially in the early years (up to age 3). A child may bite to ease the pain caused by teething. They may explore the world with their mouth or have difficulty expressing their feelings, needs and wants.

When children mature, they develop appropriate ways of communicating their needs, interacting with others, problem-solving, coping with their emotions and controlling their behaviours, which helps them outgrow the biting behaviour.

Biting behaviour of concern

Some children, however, continue to bite. Biting behaviour becomes a concern when the following occurs:

  • the frequency (i.e. how often a child exhibits biting behaviour) is of concern,
  • the duration (i.e. how long each incident of the biting behaviour lasts) is of concern,
  • the intensity (i.e. the strength of the biting behaviour) is of concern, and
  • the biting behaviour negatively impacts the child’s participation in activities, interaction with others, their day-to-day functioning and development.

Impact of biting behaviour

The person who gets bitten has a painful experience that can leave them feeling worried that it might happen again, while the parents of the bitten child can be angry that their child was bitten and be anxious about their child’s safety. The parents of the child who bites may feel annoyed at their child and anxious about how others will treat their child. The child may get labelled as ‘the biter’ and others may become wary of the child.

The climate of the setting (e.g. childcare, preschool, kindergarten, school, disability support and youth services) can also change dramatically. A considerable amount of time and energy can be spent on the child showing the biting behaviour, which can have a deleterious effect on the quality of the learning experience for all the children. Research consistently shows that managing behaviour is linked to staff experiencing high levels of stress, burnout, and job dissatisfaction.

Hence, biting behaviour affects everyone involved and the child who is biting requires necessary help to learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Positive behaviour support resources for biting behaviour

Positive Behaviour Support Framework Graphic

Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) focuses on evidence-based strategies and person-centred supports that address the needs of the individual and the underlying causes of behaviours of concern, to enhance the quality of life for both the individual and those that support them.

PBS recognises that there is no single cause for biting behaviour. It is a complex behaviour that is a product of the interaction between multiple factors contributing to its development and persistence.

Biting behaviour is like the tip of the iceberg so it is essential to look beneath the surface to work out the why before we can address the problem. Behaviour Help resources are at hand:

B for Biting - Forms cover image

Download this free PDF guide

The forms contained in this pdf booklet are from the B for Biting: Positive Behaviour Support guide that can be used as part of the process of developing a PBS plan.

Download B for Biting - Forms

Which resources are right for you?

Apps

Based on the Taking CHARGE of Rainbow of Emotions Workbook this app helps children of all ages develop emotional regulation skills. The app guides the child to firstly, identify and express their emotion in appropriate ways. Then the child is guided to use emotional management tool/s from the CHARGE tool kit to manage their emotions in a healthy way.

The acronym CHARGE stands for the different categories of emotional management tools – Chat tools, Helpful thinking tools, Amusement tools, Relaxation tools, Good routine tools and Exercise tools.

Behaviour Help App - Using the evidence-based approach of Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), the Behaviour Help web-based app allows people supporting individuals with emotional and behavioural difficulties to complete a Functional Behaviour Analysis and put together a comprehensive Behaviour Support Plan (BSP). The BSP can then be used by everyone interacting with the individual to manage and prevent challenging behaviours and ultimately improve their lives, and the lives of those who support them.

Books

Use the practical tools (checklists, forms, and strategies) in B for Biting: Positive Behaviour Support book to develop comprehensive PBS plans that can be used to support children of all ages consistently in all settings.

This invaluable guide is useful for parents, caregivers, educators in childcare, early childhood, primary and secondary schools, disability, mental health, allied health, and supervisory professionals.

Coaching

Personalised and practical one to one help tailored specifically to your family.

Online Courses

Access these online courses anytime online to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotional regulation skills. Also learn to utilise the positive behaviour support framework to address anxiety, aggression, ADHD, ASD and ODD.

SEL Educational Videos

Minimise or eliminate the occurrence of challenging behaviours by teaching children of all ages appropriate ways of communicating, interacting, managing their emotions and behaviours.

The SEL curriculum uses video modelling to provide direct, explicit and systematic teaching of the various skills by discussing the importance of the skill, modelling the skill so the child learns what the skill looks like? sounds like? feels like? and learn the skill in staged situations that simulate real life scenarios.

Therapy

Personalised and practical behaviour therapy tailored specifically to your family.

Webinars

Webinars discuss a range of practical strategies to guide your child learn positive ways of behaving and managing their emotions.

Workshops

Attend our practical and interactive workshops to learn about a range of diagnoses, practical skills and strategies to help develop the individual’s emotions, behaviours, social and communication skills in your learning environment.

Ask Dolly

Since you’re here, you probably have questions and concerns. I am Dolly Bhargava, am here to help. I am a NDIS registered behaviour support practitioner and speech pathologist.

I have worked in a number of settings for over 21 years so, how can I help?

Please tell me what is worrying you right now and I will do my best to recommend resources and/or services that will be most useful to you in your situation.

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