Chomp, Chomp, Chomp! Next up in our Behavior is Communication Series is the dreaded BITING.
With this discussion we are thinking more about old students who are still prone to biting. This type of biting doesn’t necessarily mean biting other students in an act of retaliation or frustration. Students in elementary school who are displaying undesirable biting behaviors may be biting themselves, their clothes, their nails, writing utensils, paper, toys, or non-edible objects.
While biting may not be something that distracts the entire class, it can still be a behavior that is distracting or harmful to the individual student. Aside from the concern of bacteria spread and disease that can come from biting inappropriate objects, students who experience the inclination to bite may have some internal dysregulation that may prevent them from being fully present and engaged in the daily activities.
Why do some students bite? Well, there are a variety of reasons. Some students may experience oral fixation that drives their need to constantly keep their mouths stimulated or engaged in some activity. They may be under sensitive to stimuli around the mouth and thus seek out stimulation in the form of biting. These students may also have a pH or chemical imbalance in their mouth due to different medications they take. Some students are big sensory seekers and their bodies crave deep pressure input that manifests in the urge to bite down on different objects.
Students dealing with the urge to bite may be less focused and engaged in the classroom. If you notice that one of your student exhibits biting behaviors at certain times of the day or during certain activities, start taking some notes on what seems to be the trigger.
For example, if the student starts biting every time we switch to a math lesson, it’s possible that they have a lot of stress and anxiety around this subject. This internal stress starts firing signals in the brain that can build “roadblocks” along their neurological pathways. The stress keeps mounting and they can quickly become overwhelmed and overstimulated. Their behavioral response to this feeling is the overwhelming urge to bite down on something. Thus, they start biting. The biting can then become the only thing the student can focus on. Until their body is adjusted, the student will be less engaged and less present in the classroom.
As you transition out of the math lesson and head into the next activity, your student may be frozen in this sensory deadlock and unable to mentally or emotionally move through the next lesson with you. Left unattended, this student may further spiral and start showing more undesirable behaviors until they finally snap and reach the MELTDOWN.
Students who struggle with this type of behavioral pattern can benefit from movement breaks at The Sensory Path. While it is true that the student may need some additional help with addressing their mental blocks and anxiety surrounding math (or any other subject), The Sensory Path is a great resource for this student as they’re working towards being a more confident learner.
The Sensory Path is so much more than just a fun, playful area in your building. This is a resource that helps students dealing with so many different issues than impact their ability to learn and grow. Watching for behaviors that may indicate internal dysregulation can change the way your students experience their education. As teachers become more aware of how different behaviors communicate deeper signals as to what is going on internally, students will feel more supported and safer in the classroom. Students who feel that their teacher sees and understands their needs will be more willing to show up and give their best effort.