Biting Policy

Biting Policy

Biting is a common behaviour among children and can cause a great deal of distress and worry for parents and staff. Biting can often be painful and frightening for the child who has been bitten and frightening for the child who bites. Biting happens for different reasons with different children and under different circumstances. This is part of some children’s development and can be triggered when they do not yet have words to communicate their anger, frustration or need. At Laleham Church Playgroup we follow our behaviour policy to promote positive behaviour at all times.


We aim to act quickly and efficiently when dealing with any case of biting.

We will treat each incident with care and patience, offering comfort, helping children to manage their feelings, resolve issues and promote understanding.

We will work in partnership with parents/carers to develop successful behaviour management strategies.


In the event of a biting incident

For the bitten child or adult:

1.  The child who has been bitten will be the priority and should be comforted and given reassurance.

2.  Once the child is calm staff check for any visual injury. If there is a bite mark, staff should put on protective gloves and clean the wound immediately by running warm tap water over it for a couple of minutes (if this is not possible wash the area with warm water and wipe with an antiseptic wipe). It’s a good idea to do this even if the skin doesn't appear to be broken. Staff will explain to the child what is happening and support the child as this process may be painful.

3.  If the skin is broken:-

  • encourage the wound to bleed slightly by gently squeezing it, unless it's already bleeding freely.
  • if the wound is bleeding heavily, put a clean pad or sterile dressing over it and apply pressure.
  • dry the wound and cover it with a clean dressing or plaster.
  • ** The Manager, deputy manager or session leader must contact the parent/carer of the child immediately. The phone call should be sensitive and give reassurance to the parent/carer and offer an explanation of the procedure which has been followed (the name of the child who bit must not be disclosed).
    It is important to advise them to seek medical advice from their GP (or local walk-in centre or minor injuries unit) that same day.

4.  If the bite has severed a body part like a finger or ear:-

  • Treat the wound as above.
  • Wash the severed part with tap water, wrap it in clean tissue/cloth or sterile gauze, and store it in a plastic bag surrounded by ice so it can be transported to hospital. It may be possible to surgically reattach the body part later on.
  • Phone 999 for an ambulance.
  • ** The Manager, deputy manager or session leader must contact the parent/carer of the child immediately. The phone call should be sensitive and give reassurance to the parent/carer and offer an explanation of the procedure which has been followed.
  • If the ambulance arrives before the child’s parents the person who has been looking after the child should accompany them in the ambulance.
  • If a parent is not present when the ambulance arrives - the child’s registration form which includes “Parental Consent to Medical Treatment statement” (in the red confidential file in the yellow Leader’s box) and any medication records must be taken to hospital with the child.

5.  If the skin is not broken (we do not want to worry parents/carers unnecessarily):-

  • Staff should wait 45-60 minutes and then check if there is a bruise or bite mark still present. If there is no obvious mark or bruising this can then be discussed with the parent/carer at collection time.
  • If after 45-60 minutes (or if the incident happens after 11o’clock) the bite has left the child with a bite mark or bruising then the parents of the child should be contacted as above **.
  • The parent may ask the name of the biter, staff must explain that they cannot disclose this information as confidentiality must be maintained.

6.  The member of staff who witnessed the incident, or who dealt with it must complete a “Significant Accident/ incident Record” form for each child involved and put the forms’ details on the “Significant Accident/incident Log”. The form should be signed by the child’s parent/carer when the child is collected that day.

7.  If a member of staff is bitten the same first aid procedures will be followed and if the skin has been broken, the member of staff will be asked to contact their doctor for advice straight away. A “Significant Accident/ incident Record” form must be completed by/for the staff member and the forms’ details put on the “Significant Accident/incident Log”.

8.  The Playgroup manager must be informed of all biting instances.

For the biter:

1.  Wherever possible the child who has bitten should have their behaviour managed by their keyperson or keyperson buddy and the consequence of biting should be explained in a way that is appropriate to the child’s age and stage of development.

  • The child who has caused the bite will be told in terms that they understand that biting (the behaviour and not the child) is unkind and shown that it makes staff and the child who has been bitten sad. If it is developmentally appropriate the child will be asked to say sorry. (Do not encourage the child to cuddle the child it bit as this can be traumatic for the injured child)
  • If the child continues to bite, observations will be carried out to try and distinguish s cause eg. tiredness or frustration. Meetings will be held with the child’s parents to develop strategies to prevent biting behaviour. Parents will be reassured that it is part of a child’s development and not made to feel that it is their fault.

2.  The parent/carers of the child who has bitten another person should be  informed of the incident preferably by phone by a senior member of staff or at collection time. This must be handled in a sensitive and confidential way and not discussed openly infront of other parents/carers or children.

3.  Parents/carers may ask the name of the child who has bitten or been bit, staff must explain that they cannot disclose this information as confidentiality must be maintained.

4.  Where a child repeatedly bites and/or has a particular special educational need or disability that lends itself to increased biting (e.g. in some cases of autism where a child doesn’t have the communication skills), the playgroup will carry out a risk assessment.

The policy was adopted by Laleham Church Playgroup at a meeting on....17th April 2018

Signed on behalf of Laleham Church Playgroup...........................................

Further advice can be found at:

Information sheet on Biting

1. Key messages:-

  • Biting incidents can cause parents a great deal of distress and worry, and staff need to be sensitive and supportive at all times.
  • Working in partnership with parents/carers is a key factor of any successful Behaviour Management Strategy. Staff should involve parents/carers every step of the way and explain that this should be implemented in the home as well as in the playgroup.
  • Staff should be aware that there are a range of triggers which can cause children to bite and should work as a team to identify these and reduce them.

2. Potential triggers for biting:-

  • Exploration – babies and young children explore the world around them using their senses, young children do not always know the difference between gnawing on a toy and biting someone.
  • Teething – swelling gums can be painful and cause discomfort; this can be relieved by biting or chewing on some thing.
  • Cause and effect – at around one year old, children become interested in what happens when they do something. For example, they may bang a spoon on a table and discover it makes a noise. This behaviour may be repeated again and again to support their learning and development. This could be the case with biting as the child explores the reaction to biting someone.
  • Attention – when children are in a situation where they feel they are not receiving enough attention biting is a quick way of becoming the centre of attention.
  • Independence – toddlers are trying very hard to be independent using phrases such as “me do it” and “mine”. If a child wants a toy, or wants another child to do something this could lead to a biting incident.
  • Frustration – children can be frustrated by a number of things, such as long waiting times before or after transitions times. Wanting to do something independently, but not quite being able to manage the task. Also, not having the vocabulary to express themselves clearly. This can lead to biting as a way of dealing with this frustration.
  • Environment – an environment that does not provide challenge, or allows children to become uninterested can lead to displays of negative behaviour such as biting.
  • Not having their needs met – children who are tired, hungry or uncomfortable may bite others as a way of expressing their emotions.

All these triggers should be considered – it could be one of these factors or a combination of them.

3. Potential strategies to support the management of biting incidents:

  • Staff may need to increase the supervision of a child who is biting; this does not necessarily need to be one to one. It could be during particular times of the day, or by simply reducing the number of large group activities provided.
  • Staff should make sure a child who is biting received significant encouragement when displaying positive behaviour, and avoid excessive attention following an incident.
  • Staff should evaluate the routine and judge whether it is meeting the needs of the child. A good quality routine should provide experiences and activities both indoors and outdoors that have no waiting times. Whilst group activities should be for the benefit of the children and not as a holding exercise.
  • Staff should plan activities which help release frustration such as physical outdoor play and malleable experiences like play dough, gloop etc
  • Staff should provide cosy areas for children to relax in and activities which release tension such as splashing in water, digging in sand and using sensory equipment.