Just recently our family was getting gelato in a cute downtown shop when, suddenly, one of my 20-month-old twins started screaming like he had been bitten or pinched.
I bent over the stroller to figure out what was going on when a kind lady behind us said, “I think she bit her brother!”
I couldn’t believe it! My kids had NEVER bitten each other before! Sure enough, I looked at my little boy’s finger, and there were some deep teeth marks.
Toddlers biting each other isn’t necessarily a form of maliciousness. Rather, it is a means of communication and a normal part of their development as they are learning how to express emotion, exploring the consequences of their actions, and discovering social boundaries.
Let’s explore a few reasons why young children resort to biting and examine research-based advice for correcting the behavior.
Twins Biting Each Other – Why It Happens
There is no one definitive reason as to why toddlers bite each other; however, there are certain factors that may play into the annoying and hurtful behavior.
Twins, like any other children, experience frustration when they face challenges or are unable to communicate their needs effectively.
This frustration can manifest as biting when it becomes an outlet for pent-up emotions. Biting may serve as a way for twins to release their frustration when they cannot express themselves verbally.
2. Lack of Communication Skills
During early toddlerhood, twins may still be developing their communication skills. This can lead to difficulties in expressing their desires, needs, or frustrations verbally.
Biting might become a form of nonverbal communication between twins, albeit an undesirable one. It may serve as a means for them to convey their emotions or establish boundaries with each other.
Teething is a common milestone that infants go through, and it can be a challenging and uncomfortable process.
Twins who are teething may find relief by biting on objects, including their siblings.
The pressure applied while biting may provide temporary relief from the discomfort associated with teething, albeit at the expense of their sibling.
4. Enjoy Seeing Sibling’s Reaction
Children, including twins, are curious beings. Biting their sibling might evoke a reaction that twins find intriguing or amusing.
The response from their sibling, whether it’s surprise, distress, or attention, may reinforce the behavior, leading to repeated instances of biting.
5. Seeking Attention
Twins, especially in larger families, may sometimes feel the need to seek attention from their parents or caregivers. Biting their twin may be a way to elicit a reaction, drawing attention to themselves.
In their young minds, any form of attention, even if it’s negative, can be preferable to feeling ignored.
6. Lack of Self-Control
Young children are still developing self-control and impulse management skills. Biting may occur when they are unable to control their urges or emotions.
In such instances, twins may bite each other as a spontaneous reaction without fully considering the consequences or understanding the impact of their actions.
7. Lack of Understanding That Biting Hurts
Toddlers are still learning about cause and effect. They may not fully comprehend that biting their sibling can cause pain or harm.
Twins biting each other may be an unintentional act, driven by curiosity or exploration rather than malice.
8. Exploration or Imitation
Children learn by observing and imitating the behaviors of those around them. If one twin starts biting, the other twin may imitate this behavior out of curiosity or as a way to explore their environment.
Twins often share a strong bond and mimic each other’s actions, which can lead to both engaging in biting behaviors.
Is It Normal For Babies To Bite Each Other?
Yes, it is normal for babies and young children to bite each other as part of their developmental process.
Biting is a common behavior observed in infants and toddlers and is considered a natural aspect of their growth and exploration.
During early childhood, children are still learning about their surroundings, social interactions, and appropriate behaviors.
Biting is often an expression of curiosity, frustration, communication, or teething discomfort rather than an aggressive act. It’s crucial to recognize that biting at this age does not signify malicious intent.
According to child development experts, biting can be a typical phase that many children go through as they explore cause-and-effect relationships and try to understand their emotions and boundaries.
It is a form of communication when children have not yet developed the verbal skills to express themselves adequately.
Typical Age Range For Biting Behavior
The typical age range for biting in children is 1 year old to around 2 to 3 years old.
Biting is a common behavior during this developmental stage as children explore their environment and learn to communicate their emotions and needs.
Twins Biting Each Other – How To Handle It
When one of my twins first started biting their sibling, my first reaction was to get in her face and say, “No! That’s mean!”
However, I’ve learned that when your child bites their sibling or another child, it’s essential to respond calmly and consistently.
- Comfort the child who was bitten, showing empathy and understanding. Then, redirect the biter’s attention to an appropriate activity or toy.
- Avoid using aggressive responses or punishment, as it may reinforce negative behavior.
- Instead, gently explain that biting is not acceptable and encourage them to express their feelings with words.
- If they are old enough to understand, teach empathy by asking how they would feel if someone bit them.
- Praising positive behaviors and setting clear boundaries will help your child learn appropriate ways to handle emotions and conflicts.
What Not To Do
When siblings bite each other, avoid reacting with aggression or punishment. Refrain from favoritism or blaming one child over the other.
Also, don’t ignore the behavior; it must be addressed consistently. Instead, focus on teaching positive alternatives and setting clear boundaries to promote healthy sibling relationships.
Twins Biting Each Other – How To Prevent It
All of the following is MUCH easier said than done; however, with time and patience, your biting issue should be resolved!
Preventing twins from biting each other requires a proactive and patient approach.
- Firstly, ensure they have plenty of age-appropriate toys and activities to keep them engaged and distracted.
- Teach them effective communication and conflict-resolution skills, reinforcing positive behavior with praise and rewards.
- Watch for signs of frustration or teething discomfort, and address their needs promptly.
- Encourage empathy by explaining the consequences of biting and asking how they would feel in the other’s place.
- Maintain consistent discipline, and avoid reacting harshly to biting incidents.
- Create a loving and nurturing environment, reinforcing their strong bond and promoting positive interactions to foster a healthy sibling relationship.
At What Age Is Discipline Appropriate?
Discipline is appropriate at all ages, but the approach and methods of discipline should be tailored to the child’s developmental stage and understanding.
Even very young children can benefit from gentle guidance and age-appropriate limits. As children grow and develop, discipline should evolve to match their increasing understanding and ability to reason.
For infants and toddlers, discipline mainly involves setting boundaries and redirecting their behavior toward positive activities.
As children enter preschool and early school years, they can better understand rules and consequences.
Time-outs, loss of privileges, or logical consequences may become more effective disciplinary tools.
It’s important to note that discipline should never involve physical punishment or be used to instill fear.
Instead, it should focus on teaching children appropriate behaviors, fostering empathy, and helping them develop self-control and a sense of responsibility.
Positive reinforcement, clear expectations, and open communication are key components of effective discipline throughout a child’s development.
Is It Normal for Twins To Fight All the Time?
I am beginning to ask myself this DAILY as my twins have entered into the fight zone and conflicts arise more often than ever before.
From what I’ve found, it is relatively common for twin toddlers to engage in conflicts or fights from time to time.
Twin toddlers, like any siblings close in age, are still learning to navigate social interactions, emotions, and boundaries.
As they grow and develop, they may have disagreements over toys, attention from parents, or personal space.
Sibling rivalry and conflicts are a natural part of the developmental process.
While it can be challenging for parents to witness constant fighting, it’s essential to remember that some level of conflict is normal and can even contribute to their social and emotional growth.
Parents can help minimize conflicts by providing ample opportunities for each twin to have individual attention, encouraging positive interactions, and teaching conflict resolution skills.
As they mature, twin toddlers will likely learn to cooperate and share better, leading to a reduction in the frequency and intensity of their fights.
Is Biting a Symptom of Autism?
Biting can be observed in some individuals with autism, but it is important to understand that it is not a definitive or exclusive symptom of autism.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a neurodevelopmental condition characterized by challenges in social interaction, communication, and repetitive behaviors.
These challenges can vary significantly from person to person.
Biting behaviors can be seen in individuals with autism for various reasons, such as difficulty expressing themselves verbally, sensory issues, frustration, anxiety, and difficulties with emotional regulation.
However, biting can also be observed in individuals without autism for similar reasons, especially in young children who are still developing their coping and communication skills.
It’s essential to avoid jumping to conclusions based solely on a single behavior.
A diagnosis of autism should be made by a qualified healthcare professional or a team of specialists based on a comprehensive assessment of a person’s behavior, development, and social communication skills.
Early identification and intervention are crucial for supporting individuals with autism and promoting their overall development and well-being.
If you have concerns about a specific individual’s behavior, it is best to seek guidance from a healthcare professional or a specialist experienced in autism evaluation and diagnosis.
In conclusion, while twin siblings biting each other can be a concerning and challenging behavior for parents, it is essential to remember that such behavior is not uncommon and can be a part of typical sibling interactions.
Understanding the underlying reasons and employing positive parenting strategies can help foster a supportive and nurturing environment for both twins’ emotional and social development.
Charlynn is an educator and mom to fraternal boy/girl twins. She loves learning through the experiences she has with her littles and using her knowledge to help other moms as they embark on the journey of motherhood.