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Strategies to Change Bad Behavior

Simple Strategies to Change Your Preschooler's Bad Behavior

Do you have a biter on your hands? Sure, there are lots of reasons why he might be using this behavior, but regardless of why your kid bites, your job is to stop it before it becomes a habit. Here are a few tips to help you:

  • Infants under 11 months usually bite to relieve teeth or gum soreness. But don't let your baby get into a habit of biting you. Each time you see your baby is about to chomp away, immediately provide a chewy toy or hard plastic teething ring. In fact, have it handy so you use it each time. That way your baby will learn to bite on something, not someone.
  • Little ones sometimes bite because they think it's a game, but don't play along! If they perceive even for an instant we think it's funny, they'll try it again. Instead, put your hand gently on your toddler's mouth and firmly say, "No biting!" Do it every time so he gets the message.
  • Toddlers and preschoolers may bite because they don't know how to handle their frustrations. It's up to us to help them find better ways to get their point across. Intervene immediately, saying, "You may not bite. Use your words to tell what you need." Then show how, by saying, "I want a turn" or "I'm mad."
  • If your child does hurt another child, focus your concern on the victim: "That must hurt. What can I do to help?" It will model to your child how to convey sympathy. Your child might offer a tissue or Band-Aid, draw a picture to apologize or offer to share a toy with the injured child.
  • And no matter what you hear from other parents, do not bite your kid back. You're only sending him the message that kids aren't allowed to bite, but adults are. And remember: Anticipating your child's bad behavior before it happens is always your best prevention.

Behavior is learned. So make sure you're teaching your children the right way to behave; then don't stop until they do.

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