Biting at Preschool —

When Your Child's the Chomper


Does your toddler bite the hand that feeds him…and the hands that pass the crayons? Here's how to stop your sweetie from sinking his teeth into his preschool pals.


Lots of young children bite, especially toddlers who don’t have the self-control or language skills to express themselves verbally. But bigger kids bite, too, when they’re overly excited or frustrated or are having trouble getting their point across with words alone. Beyond inflicting pain, biting at preschool can get a student suspended or even kicked out — so if you get a call from your itty-bitty biter’s preschool, here’s how to handle it to ensure that bad habit bites the dust:


  • Avoid getting defensive. Your child’s preschool teacherwants the best for your little one, so take her concern seriously and pledge your cooperation in nipping the biting in the bud. 

  • Ask what triggered the incident. Did the biting at preschool happen during a particular game that riles up your child, during imaginary play (was he the doggy and thought nipping was part of his role?), or with a particular classmate your child has trouble with? If you and the teacher put your heads together, you might be able to figure out what caused the biting — and make sure it doesn’t happen again. 

  • Talk about school consequences. Ask how teachers handle biting preschoolers. With any luck, on the first offense, they firmly tell your child, “Biting is not okay.” From there on out, support the staff if they suggest your child sit out (for no more than ten minutes) of a fun game or activity whenever he bites at preschool. What you don’t want is punishment that excludes him from outdoor playtime. (If your wee one is wound up enough to bite at preschool, he needs to blow off that steam outside.) If your preschool suspends biting preschoolers without taking these other measures first, you may need to find another school. Your critter may not see staying home from preschool as punishment for biting. 

  • Do your part at home. Even three-year-olds are able to understand a simple “No biting” rule. So explain that biting at preschool and at home — and anywhere else for that matter — is never okay, just as hitting is never allowed, even when your child is very angry. And dish out discipline when your babe breaks the rule. If that doesn’t stop the biting, chat with your pediatrician. She might check for speech and hearing problems(which can push kids to the edge in frustration) or possibly a sensory processing issue. 

  • Bite your tongue. Though the preschool teacher may share the name of the classmate your munchkin munched on, resist contacting that child’s parents to apologize. There’s a chance the other parent will be miffed and, since neither of you witnessed the event, you can’t talk about it knowledgeably. Just let the situation cool off on its own or allow the school to handle it.






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