The answers to the assessing and reflection lead to development of an action plan. Some biting situations do not require an involved action plan, but for a child with biting as a challenging behavior you will probably want an action plan. Review the action plan after every occurance and make appropriate changes.
What to consider when developing your plan:
- Provide items to bite that help the child learn what they can bite safely, without hurting anyone else.
- Have age-appropriate expectations for the child’s behavior based on their current skills and abilities.
- Provide opportunities for the child to make choices and feel empowered.
- Make sure schedules, routines, and transitions are predictable and consistent.
- Offer activities and materials that allow the child to relax and release tension.
- Pay attention to signals. Stay close and step in if the child seems ready to bite.
- Suggest acceptable ways to express strong feelings. Help the child learn to communicate their wants and needs.
- Use a reminder system to help the child learn to express strong feelings with appropriate words and actions.
- Teach the child words for setting limits, such as “no,” “stop,” or “that’s mine.”
- Reinforce positive behavior by acknowledging the child’s appropriate words and actions.
- Offer foods with a variety of textures to meet the child’s sensory needs.
I used my action plan in communications with the other parents within the program reaffirming how I was addressing the situation and maintaining safety within the program. Communication around any strong biting situation needs to be confidential in that no names are shared, but I really believe it is important that all parents understand how you will be approaching the situation. Many parents do not realize that biting behavior is developmentally normal. You need to inform them of that and that you will use interventions targeted to the child and specific behavior. You will react swiftly. As developmentally appropriate, you will work on educating the children in the program on techniques to keep themselves safe. You will not force a child who bit and the child who was bitten to play together.
If you have staff, be very clear of responsibilities within the development of the Action Plan.
As stated previously, communication is important. Outside sharing the general action plan for the program, I looked at how my communication needed to be different for the parents of the child that bit and the parents of the child that was bitten.
Play Right—Don’t Bite! pdf from Illinois Early Learning
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