Managing Toddler Biting in Childcare

Managing Toddler Biting in Childcare

Toddler biting in early years childcare is a common behaviour observed, often leaving childcare practitioners grappling with effective strategies to address and prevent it. Understanding the reasons behind biting and implementing proactive measures can help create a safer and more harmonious environment for both children and practitioners.

Here are some strategies to effectively manage biting behaviours in your childcare setting – remember to communicate with the parents who are struggling to know how to cope with a child who bites.

Observe and Identify Triggers

Begin by closely observing the child exhibiting toddler biting behaviours. Identify specific triggers that precede the biting incidents, such as frustration, lack of communication skills, or the need for attention. This understanding will guide your approach to addressing the root cause.

Teach Alternative Communication

Children often resort to biting as a means of expressing frustration or unmet needs. Encourage alternative forms of communication, such as using words, gestures, or pictures, to express themselves. Providing language tools empowers children to convey their emotions more effectively.

Promote Social Skills

Foster positive social interactions by organising activities that encourage cooperation and sharing. Teach children appropriate ways to interact with their peers, emphasising the importance of empathy and understanding others' feelings.

Establish Consistent Routines

Structure and routine can provide a sense of security for children. Ensure a consistent daily schedule, including meals, naps, and playtime, which helps minimise stress and reduces the likelihood of impulsive behaviours like toddler biting.

Reinforce Positive Behaviour

Acknowledge and reward positive behaviour consistently. Positive reinforcement, such as verbal praise or small rewards, can motivate children to choose alternative behaviours and discourage toddler biting.

Supervise and Intervene Promptly

Vigilant supervision is key to preventing biting incidents. Be attentive to the children's interactions and intervene promptly if you notice potential conflicts or escalating tensions. This proactive approach can help defuse situations before they escalate.

Communicate with Parents

Maintain open and transparent communication with parents. Share observations, strategies, and progress in addressing the biting behaviour. Collaborate with parents to create a consistent approach between your childcare setting and home environment.

Provide Teething Relief for Toddler Biting

For the younger children in your setting, teething can be a common cause of biting behaviour. Ensure appropriate teething toys are available and offer soothing items to alleviate discomfort. Communicate with parents about teething patterns and coordinate strategies for relief. Why not read this 'Biting' blog from superstar guest author, Joanna Grace, for even more insight and ideas?

Implement a Biting Policy

Establish a clear and fair biting policy within your childcare setting. Communicate this policy to both parents and staff members, outlining the procedures for reporting, addressing, and preventing toddler biting incidents.

In conclusion, dealing with toddler biting behaviours in childcare settings requires a multifaceted approach that combines observation, communication, and proactive strategies. By understanding the underlying causes, communicating with parents, promoting positive social skills, and maintaining consistent routines, you can create a nurturing environment in your setting that supports the healthy development of all the children in your care.

More Information:


Ofsted Inspection Hacks: Your Key to Acing the Visit!

Ofsted Inspection Hacks: Your Key to Acing the Visit!

Ofsted inspections are part of a necessary inspection programme for all early years establishments, including all nurseries, schools and childminders in England. Other parts of the UK are inspected as well, but by other inspection bodies. Nursery managers and school leaders often dread an Ofsted visit! However, with proper planning, inspections can be a great opportunity to show off just how good your early years provision is.

The key here is planning and preparation. Most Ofsted inspections are conducted with a minimum of 24 hours’ notice, although there are times when Ofsted can legally turn up for an emergency inspection if they have received information that suggests that the setting is either not safe for children, or is not fulfilling its legal and statutory duties.

The “Early years inspection handbook for Ofsted-registered provision” sets out how Ofsted will inspect Ofsted-registered early years providers and as such, is the first port of call for all nurseries in England who want to prepare well for their Ofsted visit. In addition, settings should look at and be familiar with the following which are particularly relevant to safeguarding:

  • “Inspecting safeguarding in early years, education and skills settings’”
  • ‘Working together to safeguard children’

Overview of the visit

In line with the Education Inspection Framework, His Majesty’s Inspectors (HMIs) are tasked with making judgements about the following areas of a provision:

Overall effectiveness – this is a combination of the following 4 areas:

  • The quality of education
  • Behaviour and attitudes
  • Personal development
  • Leadership and management

Whilst there is some ongoing debate over the merits of the judgements, currently these areas can be judged as being:

  • Outstanding
  • Good
  • Requires improvement
  • Inadequate

To best prepare for an Ofsted inspection, consider the following areas:

Check your website

The inspector will need to prepare for their visit by gaining a broad overview of the setting, its context and history and the first stop for inspectors is usually the setting’s website. It is crucial that this is up-to-date and displays the legal and minimum information needed. Other evidence is gathered through observations and discussions on the day with members of staff, parents and children.

Use the inspection handbook and prepare your staff

Audit your setting using the “Early Years Inspection Handbook” and make sure that your staff understand how this is used before, during and after a visit. Go through the 4 areas of assessment and see how your setting measures up. If changes need to be made, write a development plan so that you can evidence your leadership and planned actions to Ofsted.

Prepare relevant documents to demonstrate your leadership and management

During a visit, you will need to show the inspector various documents and these need to be up-to-date and easily available. This avoids stress and panicking when you get the Ofsted call. The handbook lists the following documents that inspectors may ask to see:

  • Paediatric first-aid certificates
  • Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) records and any other recruitment documents summarising the checks on, and the vetting and employment arrangements of, all staff working at the setting
  • List of current staff and their qualifications
  • Register/list showing the date of birth of all children on roll and routine staffing arrangements
  • List of children present at the setting during the inspection (if not shown on the register)
  • All logs that record accidents, exclusions, children taken off roll and incidents of poor behaviour
  • All logs of incidents of discrimination, including racist incidents
  • Complaints log and/or evidence of any complaints and their resolutions
  • Safeguarding and child protection policies
  • Fire-safety arrangements and other statutory policies relating to health and safety
  • List of any referrals made to the local authority designated person for safeguarding, with brief details of the resolutions
  • Details of all children who are an open case to social care/children’s services and for whom there is a multi-agency plan

In addition, the inspector may want to see the policies and procedures of your setting, especially those relating to all aspects of safeguarding, anti-bullying, curriculum and governance. Make sure that your policies reflect the EYFS and are using the key terms from this document. For example, you should use the term “key person” rather than “key worker”.

Check your culture is embedded and reflected in your environment

Everything about your environment and culture should show how effective your setting is in meeting the requirements of the EYFS as well as being a safe environment for the staff and children.

Make sure your reception, outdoor spaces, training rooms, activity areas, and even your offices consistently demonstrate what is important to your setting and the excellent experience that children, parents and other visitors get, and how your culture is embedded. Remove out-of-date notices, have examples of the children’s work, and ensure that health and safety requirements are being followed. Central to the environment and culture is about how you engage with other stakeholders such as parents, carers and outside agencies, so consider how you can demonstrate your involvement with these stakeholders too.

For more on how to embed positive cultures that stick, click here.

Embed your quality of education and reflective practice

This is not something that you can ‘magic up’ on the day of an Ofsted visit. It really is about how your setting functions day-to-day and how your ideas are embedded throughout the setting. However, you can prepare to demonstrate this in a number of ways, for example, through your curriculum designs and provision, meeting records, training records, CPD activities, records of child progress, and an understanding of the developmental stage of the child.

A key thing to embed and practice with staff are the 3 “Is” of:

  • Intent – what do you want to achieve?
  • Implementation – how do you set about doing it?
  • Impact – what impact do your actions have on the children?

Practice this by asking staff regularly to talk about:

  • What they are doing well
  • How they are meeting the needs of the children
  • Areas of development they have identified and the solutions they came up with
  • What impact they have on the education and lives of the children they care for

Ensure all your safeguarding practices are robust

Safeguarding is a huge area of concern for Ofsted so you need to make sure all your records are up-to-date, all your statutory training is done and that your DSL and staff can answer questions about your practice and actions taken. Ensure that you have read and understood the “Inspecting Safeguarding in Early Years” guidance which sets out what inspectors will look for. It’s important to be able to answer questions on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic too, so remember to consider this.

And finally, remember not to panic. See an Ofsted visit as a chance to demonstrate your outstanding practice, and plan to do just that.


Empowering Parents And Supporting SEN Children

Empowering Parents And Supporting SEN Children

Most early years settings will already be catering for some children with special educational needs (SEN) to help them access your services and curriculum. However, are you also finding ways to support their parents? Being a parent of a child with SEN or SEND can be lonely and confusing as they try to understand their children more fully, and then get them the help they need. Read on to find how you can help them by making some small changes, which can have a big impact.

SEN Children And Their Parents Are Unique

Everyone is different, and children with special needs cannot be grouped into one homogenous group. Often, what works well for one person - (such as having a non-stimulating environment due to sensory overload), - is the opposite of what’s needed for others, who may need a more uplifting, colourful and visually engaging environment. Some people need a quiet space, others crave attention and may have trouble regulating their volume or energy. The phrase “one size fits all” does definitely NOT apply when you are discussing children with special needs.

The same is true of their parents. There is not one ‘type’ of parent whose child has special educational needs, and it is not down to a ‘parenting fault’ or challenge either, although this is often a misconception and myth that many parents face.

Understand Parents’ Point Of View

One of the first things you can do, is to develop an empathy for parents. If you have ever stood in a supermarket whilst your toddler has a tantrum, and felt the ‘judging eyes’ upon you as you try to calm them down, you will know what we mean. Now imagine that you are standing in the same supermarket, but your toddler is now age 10 and having the same tantrum. You know that it is because they have become overwhelmed by something that is out of their control, and this is their only way of emotionally releasing their fears/anxiety/stress. But for other observers, this fact is ‘hidden’, and instead of getting the sympathy and understanding you need, you feel the weight of their judgement as they silently (or not!) condemn you and your parenting.

Listen To What Parents Say

Listening to parents is key. They will understand their situation and their child; they have found what works for them, and things that don’t. Parents will hopefully have tried numerous different approaches, learning through trial and error, experience and hopefully some professional input too. So it is important to listen to what they say, and try to accommodate things if you can. If they say that their child is upset by certain textures, sounds or tastes, then disseminate this information to your staff and make sure they are aware. A lot of children with SEN find physical contact difficult. They may find it difficult to look people in the eye or they may have sensory needs which mean they can’t bear certain materials close to their skin or particular smells.

Many neurotypical people often find these needs difficult to understand and instead, think that the person is being deliberately difficult or ‘naughty’. However, almost all of us visibly tense at the sound of nails scraping down a blackboard. The noise seems to go through us, vibrating our very bones and we quickly cover our ears and call for it to stop. This is how many people with sensory needs feel about some of the sounds, touch, tastes and smells that many of us love. It is not a question of one person being ‘right’ and the other person be ‘wrong’ – it’s just that we are all different. If we approach the situation with more understanding, patience and tolerance, then we will go a long way to helping support the parents of SEN children, because they will feel more validated and understood.

Meet The Children’s Individual Needs And Share What Works

It is the duty of settings to try to meet the needs of SEN children. Depending on the need, this is not always possible and so specialist provisions for children with some severe disabilities or learning difficulties exist. However, many children with SEN can cope in mainstream establishments so long as their needs are considered, and adaptations made.

Having a SENCo draw up a list of needs and a provision map will mean that you can document the provisions and adaptations you are providing for that child. Many SENCos will also draw up and individual child profile and share it with staff. These give details of what the child needs and what works well. Remember to update these as children grow and develop and help parents and councils maintain up-to-date EHCPs. In early years, children are growing and developing at an amazing rate, and what they need will develop with them helping parents get the provision their children need, especially as children transition to school or between school key stages.

Train Your Staff On SEN

Another simple way to help parents with SEN children is to train your staff on how best to deal with that child. You could do this as part of your annual CPD work or have key people undertake specific special needs training. There are some free and/or inexpensive CPD courses that staff can take ranging from a short one- or two-hour online course, to more in-depth, Level 2 courses. Parenta offer a number of CPD courses which may be of interest which you can access here and include Asperger Syndrome, Autism Awareness and Disability Awareness to name but a few.

Offer Support And Be An Advocate For SEN And SEND

Many children in early years may only be starting to show signs of having special needs as they join your setting, so it may be a shared journey of discovery for both the setting and the parents as you investigate some of the issues you witness in the nursery. You can help parents by offering information and advice about different conditions, and point them in the direction of support groups or other advocacy organisations.

Other ways to help

  • Encourage children to get involved in everything in your setting
  • Keep reviewing your own policies and procedures
  • Consider if you can offer extended hours or respite services

Supporting parents with SEN children will not only help them, but it will help the children too, as their home life is an important aspect which will contribute to their success in your setting.

Further information


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