Growing Peaceful Families





The Biting Solution by Lisa Poelle, MA


Lisa is an expert in biting and other dismaying behaviors of young children.  She describes why it is important to discover the "why" behind the biting, and take care of the needs and feelings that prompt it.   The parent becomes a detective to solve the mystery using seven questions, and putting the information together to create an action plan for parents, teachers, and caregivers.  Lisa recommends that the adult assume a compassionate posture for both children, and respond to biting by following the steps below: 


Instructive Intervention Guide


1.  Interrupt the behavior:
          "No biting.  Sit down right here in this spot.  We'll talk about it in a minute."

2.  Help the victim:
          "I know that really hurt.  Here, let me help you feel better."

3.  Reflect both children's feelings:
          (To the child who bit):   "I can see that you felt frustrated and angry."
          (To the child who was bitten):   "And you felt scared and then sad."

4.  Define the problem:
          "I see the problem--you both wanted to play with the same doll at the very same time.  That was the problem."

5.  Clarify the limit:
          "We always touch people gently, even when we're upset or angry.  If you hurt people, you'll have to stay next to me.  I won't let you play  with the children when you hurt them."

6. Provide two relevant solutions, one for expressing feelings and one for expressing needs.  Select and offer a suggestion that might appeal to the child:
          "When you feel upset, you can show that by..."


  • Telling the other person how you feel
  • Taking big, deep breaths
  • Clenching your teeth, making a grrrr sound
  • Putting your hands on your hips
  • Squeezing your fists
  • Folding your arms across your chest         


           "If you need something, you can say to the other child..."


  • "I need the next turn."
  • "I'm waiting for the next turn."
  • "How many minutes until you're done?"
  • "Can I play with you?"
  • "Want to trade that for this...?"
  • "Can you bring it to me when you're done?  I'll be over there."


          For toddlers, suggest shorter phrases they can manage:

  • "My turn?"
  • "Mine now?"
  • "I want that."
  • "Be careful!"


7.  Put closure on the situation and re-engage in play:
          "I'm glad to see that you are all done biting.  Let's go do..."

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To order a copy of The Biting Solution, by Lisa Poelle, MA,  Click Here.


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