18 month-old biting when angry

My daughter is 18 months old and lately has become aggressive. She often attempts to bite me as well as other children in order to get what she wants (toys, etc..) or when she is angry. I am not sure what the best way to handle this behavior is. I have tried telling her "No, biting hurts. We don't bite." I have tried yelling and removing her from the situation and distracting her but none of these seem to get her to stop. I do not want to spank her. I have been told that this is normal toddler behavior but I find it very difficult to deal with. I would appreciate and suggestions you may have.


While biting is within the range of normal toddler behavior, it can be very difficult to tolerate while it is going on! Generally, the biting behavior is a replacement for language. The child reacts with her mouth, the same place where speech comes from, often because she does not yet have the words to express her anger or frustration.

You are so right about not wanting to spank your child. How can you teach someone not to inflict pain when you would be inflicting it yourself? When you see your daughter ATTEMPT to bite, that is the time to remove her from a situation. This is a difficult procedure, involving very close attention, but you will get the hang of it. Remove your child when she tries to bite, not after she's bitten. Then you tell her "We don't bite. Biting hurts. We talk with our mouths instead."

Once she is calm, try to elicit the reason for her anger by asking questions. "Did you want the doll Sally was playing with?" Most children can say yes or nod at this age. Tell her that she has to ASK for what she wants. She may only be able to use one word at such a young age ("Doll!"), but that's a step in the right direction!

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