How To Manage Biting, Pinching And Hair Pulling

Babies and toddlers often bite, pinch and pull hair to determine cause and effect and to express their emotions. In this regard, babies can often be hard to undertand because they are unable to express what they’re feeling as they act out such behaviour. Toddlers are also learning how to express themselves, however, with careful discernment you can often figure out why toddlers behave in such a fashion and therefore how to prevent reoccurrences. 

Why Do Babies and Toddlers Bite, Pinch and Pull Hair? 

Babies put things into their mouths to explore the world around them and learn through their tactile and taste senses. Babies also put things in their mouth when they’re teething because their gums are sore. If you react in a way your baby finds interesting it’s likely they will repeat the behaviour to see if they can get the same reaction again!  

Toddlers sometimes bite, pinch and pull hair because they’re feeling excited, angry, upset or hurt. Sometimes they are repeating behaviour they have seen other children act out. Sometimes they are trying to get the attention of an adult and don’t have the words to express their feelings. 

How To React To Biting, Pinching and Hair Pulling? 

The best way to handle biting, pinching or hair pulling is a simple verbal response. Saying ‘No’ to children when they do this is the best way to teach them it is unacceptable. If toddlers are biting, pinching or pulling hair, it’s good to know how they made you feel – e.g., ‘No. No biting. Biting hurts daddy’s hand.’ The next step in handling such behaviour is to remove the child’s hand or mouth and turn away or put them down. This distracts them from the undesirable behaviour.  

If babies are teething you can give them a teething toy, cold washer or rusk biscuit to help them manage the gum pain they are feeling.  

If you believe your child is biting, pinching or hair pulling because they can’t find words for frustration or anger, it can help to suggest how they might be feeling in order for them to learn the words – e.g., ‘You look like you’re angry. Is everything okay?’ 

Dealing Your Child’s Bad Behaviour When It Affects Other Children 

If your child is hurting another child, step in right away. Stay calm and issue an apology quickly to the child and the other parent or parents. Explain to your child that the other child is hurt and probably feeling angry to help them develop empathy and then remove them from the situation. 

Contact Robyn Taylor 

At Robyn Taylor Early Childhood Centre, we incorporate a range of strategies to help children manage their frustration effectively. If you would like to learn more about the Robyn Taylor Teaching Method, book a tour of our education centre or enrol your child, please use our contact page to reach out to us or call on 02 9705 8309.