Tips for helping children to stop biting

Author and Parent Educator Mary Hartzell, MEd, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your toddler to stop biting others
How to Stop a Toddler from Biting
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Tips for helping children to stop biting

A very common cause of biting is that children are in a social situation, they are frustrated, and they need some help. They don't know what to do; so if the other child comes close to them, they might grab or bite. Biting is, often times, more offensive to parents so they want it dealt with right away. They will continually tell the child, "You can't bite. No biting. No biting." That is the one thing that is not going to work because you are giving the biting more attention. Instead, you want to help the child try to communicate in some way what it is they want. Help them remember that you never bite somebody. "I would stop somebody from biting you, too. Because biting hurts, and we don't do that." I had a little girl one time. She was really smart, too smart to be biting. I talked to her and she said, "I forget." I said to her, "I will make you something very special that will help you remember; no biting. What will it help you remember?" She said, "No biting." I went down to the studio, where we have lots of materials, and got a piece of yarn and made a finger crochet wristband for her. I said, "This is a very special wristband. When you come to school, the teacher will put it on you and then you will remember; no biting." That took her barely a week, and she stopped biting. She was able to be aware of it, simply because it was dealt with in a way that she was not a "bad girl," but in a way that is going to help her; and it did.

Author and Parent Educator Mary Hartzell, MEd, shares advice for parents on the best methods for teaching your toddler to stop biting others


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Mary Hartzell, MEd

Author & Parent Educator

Mary Hartzell has over 30 years experience working with children, parents and teachers. She is the director of The First Presbyterian Nursery School, a nationally recognized early childhood program in Santa Monica, California. She is co-author of Parenting from the Inside Out and also has created a series of CDs on Parent/Child Relationships. Her parent education classes and her private consulting practice have benefited hundreds of families.

Mary began her career teaching in the public school system and completed her master’s degree in early childhood education and psychology at the University of California in Los Angeles. She taught in the early childhood unit at the UCLA Lab School and supervised student teachers. 

Mary is the mother of three grown children and has four grandchildren. During the years she was raising her own children she taught in the gifted program of the Los Angeles Unified Schools, primarily in South Central L.A. For the past 20 years Mary has been a workshop presenter at national, state and local conferences of the National Association of the Education of Young Children. She has been a lecturer at UCLA extension and is adjunct faculty at Santa Monica Community College in their early childhood department. She also provides workshops, teacher education and consulting with schools throughout the United States.

Mary has served as president of the North Bay Chapter of the Association for the Education of Young Children, Vice President of the Association of the Child Development Specialists. She was the recipient of the first Pediatric Aids Foundation’s “Hero’s Award” for her work with children and parents.

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