A NURSERY chain which launched in Parkstone and has branches across Dorset is pioneering a new way of stopping 'serial biters'.

Tops Day Nurseries offers a 'bite box' at all of its 27 branches. The boxes, which contain rubber toys and teethers, have been successful when more traditional methods to stop the behaviour have failed, staff say.

Amy Alderson, the chain's operations director, said: "In partnership with the parents, I suggested that we created basically a box that's got various rubber toys and teethers in so that the child could basically satisfy their urge of biting, but on appropriate objects.

"It's actually shown really high success rates.

"Over the past few years, whenever we have had biters in the nursery we implement a bite box, and that's available for them to go to.

"If we can see the children are getting a little bit anxious, or a little bit excited, which is quite often when children will bite, we can just offer them the bite box.

"Usually that satisfies the urge and it actually prevents them from biting other children or staff members."

Children still need to learn that biting others is wrong, Ms Alderson said, and this is explained to them.

"It's not that we're ignoring the fact that they're biting," she said.

"It's still very important that they learn that that is not socially acceptable and that children shouldn't bite other children as it hurts them."

The 'bite boxes' have been welcomed by parents, Ms Alderson said, adding that most mums and dads are open to trying different methods to deal with issues involving their child.

"If your child starts biting, it's always a worrying time for parents and you want it to stop as soon as possible," she said.

"Our number one priority is to try and safeguard the other children they're playing with as well."

Fiona Bland, early years adviser at the National Day Nurseries Association, said: "Not all children can recognise or control these impulses so it is important that other strategies are in place.

"These could include mirrors, emotion dolls or emotion photo booths to give children opportunities to talk about feelings.

"A calm zone could be created to give children support to deal with their strong emotions and calm themselves down."

According to a new report, children are lashing out and biting others because their parents do not have enough time to spend talking and reading to them.

A poll by daynurseries.co.uk of nursery owners, managers and workers found that more than one in four – or 27 per cent – say they have seen a rise in the number of children biting in the last five years.