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Addressing Children Biting in Nursery Schools

a small child hiding her face

There are many ways in which children can express their emotions. Some of these signify contentment and curiosity. Others illustrate frustration, anger or discomfort.

As children within nursery school settings have not yet developed more advanced communication skills, they can sometimes resort to physical actions. One of the most common involves biting (specifically when biting others). What are some of the primary causes and what steps can teachers take to ensure that this habit is broken at an early stage?

Appreciating the Root Causes of Biting Within Social Settings

Most infants bite out of an attempt to interact with the world around them. This does not normally signify anger or frustration. However, studies have shown that toddlers and children within nursery schools will often bite to display feelings of frustration, anger, confusion, or even fear. There can also be times when a toddler will bite another out of self-defence or if they want to receive more attention. Regardless of the cause, biting within nursery schools should be discouraged from the very beginning. 

The Steps to Take in Order to Discourage Biting

It is first necessary to identify children who may be more prone to biting. This can be accomplished with the help of the EYFS assessment here. Such software bundles will enable teachers to proactively monitor the activities of each child and to make notes in the event that a problem is observed. The correct actions can thereafter be taken.

However, it is important to mention that some children might not yet be able to fully comprehend the impact of biting upon others. This is even more relevant in the event that a specific child has already been identified as suffering from social shortcomings. Educators should therefore take a firm and calm approach. Simple phrases such as “no” and “no biting” will soon be associated with negative feedback. In other words, the child will be more likely to realise that his or her actions are undesirable.

This approach should then be augmented with positive reinforcement. Let’s imagine for a moment that a child was recently chastised for biting a fellow student. Since then, he or she has behaved in the appropriate manner. A reward is in order for such a choice (and this is a very real conscious choice). Offering a bit of extra attention or providing verbal praise are two effective ways which will help to promote more friendly behaviour in the future. 

The Parental Role

We should still note that biting within nursery schools may also be caused by issues at home (such as children who are not receiving the proper amount of sleep at night). It is therefore a good idea for teachers to speak with parents; particularly if the child’s biting has become an issue. Parents need to be aware of the tools at their disposal (both positive and negative reinforcement) so that these can be applied at home. With a bit of effort and patience, biting will soon become a thing of the past.

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