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Advice to stop a 14 month old toddler from Biting His Playmates

Updated on October 2, 2010

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.

Good luck!


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    • profile image

      Jani 6 years ago

      I'm a grandmother and my son, his wife and baby (14months old boy) are living at his mother and father in laws small condo. They will not move anything out of the way so every couple of seconds you hear No Richard. No Richard and then the slap on the hand. Go stand in the corner for time out. So now he is biting the edge of the carpet. Too much discipline and yelling more hugs and love required. When he comes to visit us we never have to say No because we arrange things around him.

      And when he bites we turn to a different toy and try to distract him NOTPUNISH.

    • Everyday Miracles profile image

      Becki Rizzuti 8 years ago from Indiana, USA

      It works with mine, Janetta! I'm glad this was helpful to you!

    • profile image

      Janetta 8 years ago

      Thank you! Good advice! My 15 mo old is a biter...and a pincher, and a hitter, and a head butter!! LOL he's just mean!! My oldest was never like that!! It's very frustrating to try to make him understand it is a no no. I like the idea of emphasizing the HURT part of it. I am def. going to try that. Thanks again!

    • jim10 profile image

      jim10 8 years ago from ma

      My oldest son went to daycare for 2 days a week. Often times when my wife would pick him up she would learn that he bit the same girl again. He never seemed to bite anyone else. Well time went by and we had another boy. Guess what the new one would always bite his older brother when he couldn't get his way. Oh and sometimes he would bite us too. Luckily they have both grown out of it. And we all have all of our fingers intact.

    • Lgali profile image

      Lgali 9 years ago

      good info good hub

    • Everyday Miracles profile image

      Becki Rizzuti 9 years ago from Indiana, USA

      I think that in general the same answer applies. You're still dealing with an age where the child is discovering a great deal about himself and his independence.

      I did wonder about the age because my 15 month-old is doing a lot more hitting than bitting. When she does bite she's trying to kills. I guess that just figures!

      The key in either case is to learn to speak your child's language, which isn't always easy!

    • vrajavala profile image

      vrajavala 9 years ago from Port St. Lucie

      Nice answer. Actually I made a little mistake with the question and it should have been 24 months old. Unfortunately, this child is taking a little longer than usual to talk also. we've had him checked by an audiologist and he has perfect hearing. He can be very loving and engaging, but does seem to have a problem with jealousy.