By: Esperanza Chacón

I have seen that moms and dads are scared that their sons or daughters bite other people, because a bite in most cases is usually a violent physical attack, which includes serious injuries, which can be irreparable and painful. The jaw in most species has a powerful force.

When a child bites from a very tender age, it begins with its mother’s nipple, as a result of a funny sensory game that is pleasant to her/him, which is produced through physical body contact. When the child does it, she/he does not measure the pressure its exerted, does not distinguish risks by her/himself and it could escalate until it causes damage, and extend her/his actions to other relatives in her/his environment. We reiterate the urgency of setting a limit.

It is recommended to stop it at once, firmly and at the same time with affection, “Do not bite”, transmit this direct message clearly and firmly, without allowing for explanations; simply stop, so that this violent act is not normalized.

In principle, it is essential to understand what is behind a child that bites. Why attack another person with a bite? It is known that every living being is equipped with a set of formidable resources for their survival and when their integrity is at risk, that is, their life’s process, the defense system is automatically activated; then, it is interpreted that what happens to the child is that it feels in danger and / or has no way out.

The bite as an attack is a mechanism typical of the mammalian species, felines and reptiles, so a human child would be activating an instinctive program, in this action all their energy is concentrated, there are mammals that due to the tension that is produced in the jaw their jaws are locked.

Aggression is ultimately the resource that the human being instinctively activates to safeguard her/his integrity when she/he senses danger.

It is essential to take into account all the circumstances that surround the child, to focus our attention on the bite as the last event of the moment, it does not allow us to see the totality, on the contrary, what happens is that we are looking at a very small part of the child’s life; each episode in childhood is related to the integrality of their being; therefore, her/his entire life’s history and the environment in which she/he develops are closely linked.

Here it is worth asking ourselves; -What aspect of the family environment and social relationships is altering the child? What makes the child feel invaded or attacked to react with aggression?

The reality could be that the child is feeling a deep emotion -pain- or a void that is filled with anguish or anxiety, sufficient cause to act instinctively and to find a way to alleviate themselves. Consider that every emotion produces a type of chemistry in the brain.

When the body feels at risk, anti-stress hormones proliferate and invade the defense system, the production of cortisol and adrenaline increases (the heart rate accelerates, there are nerves, there is more tension), therefore, the chemistry is in function of ensuring the integrity of the organism. A neurotransmitter responds to a certain frequency and transmits information to other neurons and other parts of the body.

“Adrenaline is a neurotransmitter hormone that becomes a guardian angel that provides us with all the necessary supplies to survive a problem.” (…) All its effects are destined to face us against the imminent danger in the best conditions (…) Jorge Blaschke, (Brain 2.0,2013, p: 86)

One day, 3-year-old Rosita bites her cousin Pablito because he takes her toys, she begins to despair, first she screams, she does not want him to take her things, she does not understand why her parents encourage her to share, she begins to deal with her own law, she prevents him from taking her things, takes them off his hands, wants to hide them, “they are mine” she screams, she does not want to share, but adults motivate her to do so. As she does not feel the support of her relatives, she is furious, she defends herself by biting him and there is no one to stop her.

Likewise, in the specific case of two-year-old Maria, she began to be jealous of the arrival of her sister, which is why she approached the baby and bit her. Also in the case of Tommy (2 years old) who is immersed in an individual activity, when another child interrupts him, he screams and reacts by biting.

What has been described, shows that when we feel invaded, harassed or mistreated we feel anger, jealousy or envy, we lose control and we react with physical aggression. In early childhood one is more impulsive and quick. In the case of biting, it is acting in self-defense. I describe situations in context, which will allow us to analyze the reasons and the seriousness this represents.

Perhaps we think that borrowing a toy, without warning, “is not so bad”. And if it is not, -Why do we feel bad? And, it is because of this feeling, that it is convenient to verify the beliefs, information we have, and incidentally review our attitude to provide proper care. It is vital as a first step to understand the state of maturity of the child on an emotional, social and cognitive level. At the age of three, there is a predominance of natural egocentricity in childhood, where everything belongs to the child; for her/him “the sun rises to shine for them”.

When understanding the state of development of a child, it is found that forcing them to share when they do not want to, is counterproductive, because we are inducing them to an unnecessary state of alert, so the organism concentrates its energy on defense and not on creativity, indispensable for their personal fulfillment.

How necessary, that our sons and daughters feel that they have our love and respect, which means that we know their needs, stages, and how to prepare the environment so that it contributes to inner harmony in each being and in the family environment.

Esperanza Chacón
Semillero 2
Casa Sulá/Orion Educativo
San Mateo

San José-Costa Rica
January, 2021