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Daycare - What to do when yours is the bitter?

941 Views 8 Replies 9 Participants Last post by  Jilian
: My 1yo was moved to the toddler room at daycare about a month ago and since the move I have had to sign 4 incident reports for him bitting other kids, on top of that I'm told almost daily that he has attempted to bite a child. I've never seen this behavior from him, he doesn't try to bite us, and he's never tried to bite any of his cousins that he plays with. I know he's teething right now and that may have something to do with it, but is there anything I or the daycare provider can do to try to help the situation? Every day I pick him up from daycare the teacher looks to me for answers or to "fix the problem" but I've never seen him bit another child. Any suggestions would be wonderful.

Carson 03/30/05
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That's tough. My son has never bitten anyone but he did get bitten once. I was upset but I think it must be harder to be the parent of the biter.

Lately my son's teacher has been letting us know that DS and another toddler have been having some conflict. Nothing major, but some scuffles over toys or on the playground. At first I thought teacher was just telling me so I would know what was going on. But then the notes home started asking for "suggestions" on how "we" would work on helping these two boys "learn to be good friends."

Honestly I'm like WTF? I'm not there when this stuff is happening. I've never seen this other child for more than about a minute at a time, and that hasn't been very often. I don't know what this teacher thinks I can do. I mean maybe if we were talking about a couple 6-year-olds I could talk to DS, but he's TWO. Give me a break. Keep them separated, or whatever. Sheesh.

Hopefully someone else can give you some ideas since apparently I don't have any. Just couldn't read without responding.
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It's troubling to me that your provider is looking to you for answers since she is supposed to be the expert with professional training!

First I'd look up information on the I-net. There is a TON of research out there. I read something about 1/3 of children in day care being biters. Children bite out of frustration. Mine bit around 15-18 months age but then became verbal enough to express herself. She bit the times I was out of town on business. Most grow out of it by 3 at the latest. We rarely have an incident now.

Most day care advice centers around the idea of prevention - knowing when children are likely to bite (is it at pick-up or drop-off or right before naps) and then providing extra staff around at that time. Like the Director might be on-hand in a particular room when the biting is likely to occur.

How they handle biters was one of the questions I asked at my day care since we had a short history. There was no punishment involved - just modelling verbal behavior and redirection.
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I honestly thought there was a difference between a 1-year-old (or thereabouts) biting, and say, a 2- or 3-year-old biting. I may be wrong, but a 1-year-old is typically just looking for something to relieve the pressure in his gums, and an older child is probably venting frustration or aggression, no? My son at 13 months tries to gnaw my shoulder all the time...I don't view that as "biting" per se, even if it hurts. (Of course, I still tell him not to do it.)
My 1 year old is the biter (or one of them) in his class. But he bites me, bites his favorite teacher, and also bites the other babies.

I feel that he has a need to explore his world - he is NOT biting when he is frustrated or upset - and also his teething makes him want to bite.

I brought in teething rings, enough for the whole class, to keep in the fridge and asked the teachers to give him one when he is biting, and give one to his victim for their 'owie'. The babies LOVE the cold rings and pretty soon EVERYONE wants one. LOL.

It is too new (I just took the teethers in yesterday) to know if it is working but I really feel like he just needs redirection to know what is okay to bite, and that you shouldn't bite your friends (or your mom) because it hurts.

One suggestion that was made to me when my older dd was the class biter (by the school psychologist I was working with at the time) was to have the child who did the biting help the child who had been bitten. For example, hold a cold wash cloth on the area bitten for a few seconds. He also suggested that most of the attention go towards the bitten child rather than lots of negative attention given to the biter. My daughter stopped biting a few months after she turned two--the turning point seemed to come when another child bit her back and she felt how much it hurt. (I think I was the first parent who when told my child had been bit responded by saying that it was about time another child showed her what it felt like). Giving her words to use seemed to help at least a little bit too. She did seem to bite the children she played with the most often and would be seperated from the child she had bitten for a time immediately following the bite as well. Good luck with this--being the parent of a class biter is so frustrating--but it won't last forever.

edited to add that in our case she was not teething when she began biting--it usually seemed to revolve around wanting to use the same toy as the other child.
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My daughter was the morst horrid biter I have ever had in my daycare. She bit the same child over and over again. Sometimes for no reason.


Finally, in desperation, I called a family psychologist. (Kevin Lemen)

He suggested I buy a large playpen, put some special toys in it, and put it in a corner. Then, every time she bit, or attempted to bite, I should toss her little tush in the playpen.

I thought it was a stupid idea....what kind of a punishment is timeout in a toy filled playpen anyway???? He said, it is not a punishment, it is truly a "time out". A few minutes alone to gather herself.

I was not to say a single word to her about the biting....but immediately stick her in, and not speak to her until I was ready to get her out.

She loved her playpen...she would turn her back to the rest of us, and play quietly with her stuff, or just lay down and stare out the window.

She stopped biting within three days! But, she still got frustrated with the kids, and would ask to go in there. After a while, I started letting her go in her bedroom to "chill" and be alone for a few minutes. She would listen to her music, or just play quietly for five or ten minutes then come back out on her own. That was a bit risky, as she was still under age two.

By the time she was 18months old, she totally stopped her all of her aggressive behavior. I was amazed. She just needed a few minutes alone.

Good luck finding the trick for your son. He is too young to tell him "Don't bite" and have him even begin to comprehend that. Every child is different. Little kids bite out of frustration. Once they have better verbal skills, it gets easier. But a child under two who is biting is very, very normal.

What is their policy on biting? Most of us are required to have a "Three strikes, and you are out" rule.

I hope you find the solution.
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My daughter was (hopefully it remains past-tense) a biter at daycare. Her teachers kept telling me - "don't worry, it's normal and she's not doing it in an agressive way". So far we've had several weeks of no biting which coincided with two of her molars breaking through!
My son was the biter for a while at school. It was when he was around 18 mos or so. He was behind on his language and he was using the biting as a way to express himself. But sometimes the biting happened for no reason at all. It got to the point where they were ready to ask him to leave the school. The teachers had to watch him carefully for a while and they were able to pick up on the signs that he was about to bite, they would then remove him from the situation. My son does not like having his personal space violated, so when another child gets too close or starts touching him, he is likely to bite. Once the teachers learned this they were able to predict when DS was having his space violated and handle it before it escalated to biting.

Ask the teachers what is happening before the bite and what they think the biting is for. That is the important part. You cannot stop the biting unless you know why it is happening.
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