Advice to stop a 14 month old toddler from Biting His Playmates
This is a somewhat difficult question to answer, and I am sure that over time there will be many answers (some very similar and some quite unique). I feel that parents need to determine their own way in how they handle discipline problems with their children.
Normal Developmental Stage
Let's begin by discussing the fact that biting is a normal developmental stage. It is not in the least bit uncommon for your child to begin to bite his playmates as well as his parents. Your toddler is beginning to see himself as a unique individual in his world and is becoming more independent from his parents. This new developmental stage of emotional growth can result in frustration in very young children.
Your fourteen month-old doesn't possess the necessary tools to deal effectively with frustration. Up to this point, he has been assisted in handling his frustration by his parents and other caretakers: he cries and he is picked up, changed, fed, etc. Now, he is beginning to learn for himself how to handle intense emotion.
Keep in mind that this is very difficult for your toddler. Discipline is vital, but punishment is not.
Help Him Cope with Frustration
You have tools at your disposal as a parent, and those tools don't (exclusively) include punishment. If your child is biting another child, please remember that he is only handling frustration in a way that makes sense and feels good to him. He hasn't been taught better yet!
The moment your child bites, distract him with another activity, preferably one that he can do independently or with his parent or caregiver. In other words, remove him from the frustrating situation. Please don't put your child into a situation where he is going to be made to feel uncomfortable. Don't set your child up to fail.
Help Him to Use Words
With my daughter, I try to make sure she understands the words "hurts."
When she falls down and hits her head, while I am comforting her I repeat the words "I know that hurts, honey, I know that hurts." She has grown to understand the meaning of the word (at sixteen months now) and therefore, when she does something that hurts me or her father, we say "No, no. That hurts." We don't raise our voices, and we speak calmly. About four out of five times the behavior stops immediately and we move on with another activity. Physical discipline not required.
Identify with Him!
And finally, the most important thing that you can do for your child any time he exhibits frustration behavior or tantrums is to identify with him. Hold him (like a time-out in your lap) and tell him how he feels. In this way, you give your toddler words. Tell him "I understand that you are frustrated right now, but you can't bite Billy. Biting hurts!" Use emphasis where it feels right, but keep your voice calm and focus on your child. Always be loving in your discipline, and he will follow your lead.
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