Biting / Aggressive Behavior

Toddlers between the ages of 1-2 ½ years occasionally bite and/or display aggressive behavior as a result of physical discomfort from teething or emotional frustration.  Although it may seem primitive or more aggressive than hitting or grabbing, biting is a natural behavior for very young children.  They do not have the social awareness and understanding or empathy for their peers’ feelings in order for them to control their behavior.  In addition, young children have a limited ability to analyze their feelings and communicate frustrations through language.  Children at any childcare center are faced with new social situations that may bring out biting or other behaviors never experienced before.   We will occasionally see the 3 to 4 year old child also bite or behave aggressively in frustration or anger, and we will work closely with that child in an age appropriate manner.

Santa Fe strives to provide a comfortable environment that will decrease the possibility of biting or other behavior problems by maintaining a small adult to child ratio in addition to organizing activities and supervising children’s interactions.  However, when young children are grouped together, occasional aggressive behavior such as biting or pushing is inevitable.  In the event of a biting incident or aggressive action such as hitting or pushing our staff proceeds with the following course of action:

  • Immediate separation of children involved in incident.
  • The bite wound is cleaned and an appropriate treatment will be provided.
  • A cool-down period for the aggressive child equal to one minute for each year of the child’s age (i.e. 2 minutes for a 2 year old child).
  • Documentation of the incident in an accident report records the details including the date, time, and children involved; influencing circumstances witnessed by staff, as well as first aid measures that was taken.

Each child will be talked to gently at the level of their understanding with the emphasis being how your friends feel as well as how you feel when you hurt someone.  If biting or other aggressive behavior is persistent in a child, the staff will observe and assess the child’s behavior and then, meet with the parents to discuss correcting the problem at home and at school.  An assessment of the child’s behavior and influential circumstances will help determine the external causes of the child’s frustration and provide a basis for planning a behavior-correcting strategy with the parents.  Santa Fe strives to work with parents as a team, in order to leave no child behind in his or her social development.

Therefore, a child who has persistent aggressive behavior may need to take a break from school for a designated period of time, after repeated occurrences, in order to change his or her surroundings.  Parents may also be invited to spend some time with the child at school in order to support the child’s inclusion among his or her peers.  Given that each child has his or her own unique needs, each situation will be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Our intent is to help eradicate this behavior as soon as we can but this may necessitate getting help from the child’s pediatrician or other professional experts.  At rare times, we may need to encourage the family to look for childcare elsewhere, if we are not able to assist with this challenge.


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