D.M. asks from McKinney, TX on April 10, 2007
Help! Son Biting Others, Having Never Done This Before!
Hi moms! I really need your expert advice on this one. Our son just turned 2. I stay home with him most of the time, however he is enrolled in the Mother's Day Out program at our church. He loves going, but today I got a call from one of his teachers saying that he bit two other children, without being provoked. He is not ill, but might have been tired, neither of which is an excuse for this behavior. However, he has never done this before and we have to stop this now or he will be kicked out. I would hate for that to happen as he loves going to the program and gains so much from it! I am mortified for the parents of the other children and am a little scared to go get him. Please share whatever wisdom you might have on this matter regarding where to go now. The teachers put him in time out, but what do I do now?
I have read the other responses for other moms with this similar problem, but ours is unique for 2 reasons. First he has a great many of words in his vocabulary and has never had any problem expressing what he wants to other children or teachers. Second, he was unprevoked and was not going after anything on one of the occasions.
A. answers from Dallas on April 10, 2007
Being a childcare provider for many years, one of the things that frustrated me the most is the threats of being kicked out of school for a very normal, everyones kid has done it, type of behavior!! My daughter, who was about 2 and had lots of words, and no biting history, bit a boy in the face out of the blue one day! I was mortified! However, because I knew how smart she really was, we had a good talk, and the worst thing for her was that she had to go tell the childs mother what she had done. She never gave me a reason, but we reacted very firmly. She lost her favorite toy for 2 days. Maybe you could tell him that he will miss MDO for one day, and then he can try again. But, I also know that unprovoked is very relative. The 2 year old room in any childcare is the hardest to deal with, and keep an eye on. Even though that specific time seemed unprovoked, had the others been bothering him frequently in the past so that he felt the need to defend himself before they could get him?? I imagine you just have to wait and see how it goes over the next few times. It might be a random act, just to see what happens, so have a strong reaction and hope that he gets it!! Good luck~ ~A.~
G.W. answers from Dallas on April 10, 2007
Hi Shannon. I understand that your son has an extensive vocabulary but biting is still a phase that usually has to do with a child not being able to express their feelings in words. My daughter did the same thing (an forgive me if you've read my response to this issue before) but her daycare director reassured me that it was just a phase and that it would stop. It did stop but I helped it along a little. My daughter decided that she would bite my thigh one day and I politely took her little hand and bit it just enough to hurt a little--not at all the way she'd been biting. She was so shocked that she just stared at me for a few seconds and then began to cry. I explained to her that biting hurts and it's not right to cause that kind of pain for another person. She stopped her biting soon after that but I just really think she needed a dose of her own medicine. Try not to faint after reading this...
D.S. answers from Dallas on April 10, 2007
We had this issue about 3 weeks ago only in reverse! My kiddo was on the receiving end of some rather nasty bites on his back...very odd place. Upon further investigation we found out that the bites were not provoked but happened because all of the children were crowded together in a small area. It seems as though all of them liked to play in a particular toy (clubhouse type thing) and when one couldn't move they would bite. All this to say that even though we (adults) may not think it is provoked something is going on in their little minds to make them think it is OK. It is just a phase and he should get out of it quickly; just let him know that it is not acceptable. Don't be to mortified about it; almost every parent goes through this with their child and most will understand. Good luck!
A.R. answers from Dallas on April 11, 2007
Threatening to kick a child out after one day of biting incidents, with no history, seems a little extreme.
Can you spend a day in the class and see for yourself what is going on? There may be triggers the teacher isn't picking up on but you will.
Both my kids bit, and it had nothing to do with vocabulary - not only were they very vocal, they also knew how to sign. It was a frustration thing, they just reacted. My daughter bit once totally unprovoked, only to figure out later the child she bit had sat in her seat for the third time that day - she was ticked! Not an excuse, but an explanation the helped her teacher deal with it better. We also found it to be cyclical. My son would bite, then be bit and stop. After a while he would inevitably be bit again and would turn around and bite someone else within days.
My kids finally kicked the biting habit when they attended a daycare with a 'shadowing' policy. Kids who bite more than once in a day must be within arms reach of the teacher for the remainder of the day. If the behavior continues, the 'shadowing' duration increases. Didn't take more than two sessions of shadowing for my kiddos to stop biting, they hated losing their freedom!
Good luck, and remember it is a very common phase he will grow out of.