24 answers

How Much Responsibility Should a Daycare Take for a Child Who Bites?

My two year old has been going to the same daycare since she was 6 weeks old. Overall we have been very happy until recently. She has begun getting bitten by another child in her class. I understand that it is a very normal stage that some toddlers go through when they can't express themselves appropriately. I would also like to say that I am sure the parents of the biter is just as frustrated as I am. However, this is becoming ridiculous. Over the last three weeks, my child has been bitten, by the same child, approximately 10 times. I have questioned the facility, who has cameras, if they can review the tapes to see if my daughter is somehow provoking this child. If it is a behaviour problem with her, I want to address it. Apparently, she isn't doing anything to this child, in fact, on two occasions they were sitting next to each other watching a movie and he just decided to bite her. My daughter is not the only child that is being bitten by this particular boy, so I feel that the problem definitely lies with him. I am at the point that I want something to be done! I don't think it's fair for my daughter to have to change classes, but she is starting to not want to go to school anymore. The daycare tells me the only repercussion they have is to send the child home if he bites twice in the same day. They have also looked at changing teachers in that classroom since the problems seem to have gotten worse since the kids got a new teacher about a month ago. My daughter loves her new teacher and it would be a shame to see her go. I'm not sure how to feel in this situation, because I know if I was the parent of the biter, I would be embarassed to bring my child to school. As a daycare provider though, I would be more concerned about the safety of the other children. Any thoughts??

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So What Happened?™

Thanks so much for all of your responses. The day I posted this, my daughter got bit again.To answer some of your questions, There is only one teacher in the classand there are 7 children including my daughter. No, we have not been told who the biter is or what his punishment has been thus far asthat is policy. I suppose that is to avoid conflict between parents. I was so furious when I picked her up that this had happened again!! They told me that their new srategy was going to be to keep them in the same class, but separated at all times. This seems like a very low level response to me, but I am going to give themnext week to see if anything improves. IF she gets bitten again, I am taking drastic measures.

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A.,
I know that some daycares will actually have the biter leave the daycare permanently. It is very difficult on everyone involved. The daycare that my 8 month old son used to go to had a policy about biting and after so many "offenses" the parents of the biting child were asked to find another care facility. Good luck with everything.

There have been some good responses. I used to work in a preschool and we had biters as well. After the first time, the child had to be within arms length of an adult at all times. The goal was prevention. If the child bit again, timeout and isolation happened immediately each time. The parents had to sign a letter for each bite. For some kids, it did help to give them a small toy to bite instead. For others repeated timeouts were necessary. But it realy took close supervision and fast timeouts to work. It took assigning one staff person to that child alone.

Bites are painful, but they are also dangerous. If a child breaks the skin of another child, that can introduce dangerous bacteria into their system.

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While a daycare should do everything they can to ensure children aren't harmed, you have to realize that this is certainly not a new problem. I know the thought doesn't make it any easier for the bitten, but it is a normal stage which many children go through. I'm sure the parents of the biter feel awful about it, but like you, they also need childcare so they can work and provide for their family.

My daughter who is now 20, was as a toddler, a biter. I was absolutely horror-stricken at the thought that my normally sweet little child was biting others for no reason.. or even any reason. The excellent child care center that my children attended had a rather unusual approach to the 'biter' problem. I was asked to consent to having my child placed in a 'special play group'. If you haven't guessed, this group was of... biters. I was assured that for most children, being in this particular play group was for a very short time only.. usually only a day or two.. just long enough for them to be on the receiving end. As awful as this may sound, it worked and my daughter was 'instantly cured' of her biting ways once she truly understood what if was like being on the receiving end.

At the very least, I feel your provider should remove the offender(s) from the presence of the other children to keep them safe.. whether that means asking them not to return to the center until the problem is resolved (which probably won't really help the 'offender'), or by placing them in a special play group temporarily.

1 mom found this helpful

as the mother of a biter, I agree that something has to be done, especially if it's happening quite often. Luckily, for me, my son did most of his biting at home and only TRIED to bite another child once. I was prepared to remove him from PDO/daycare/sitter if needed, but not all parents can do that. You should not be the one to have to make the sacrafice though. Talk to the school and express your concerns and see if they have any solutions (you may have some solutions yourself).

good luck

1 mom found this helpful

How many children are in your daughters class? How many teachers are in the room 1 or 2? Talk to the director, explain that you understand that biting is a phase, it is and a frustrating one however your child and the others should not have to suffer at the teeth of another. If your daughters class has only one teacher, request that an additional teacher or aide be added to watch the biter and head him off at the pass. If your daughter is being bitten everyday or more than once a day, that is absolutely unacceptable and if he is able to bite that much in a day, the teacher is either over taxed with students or not pro-active enough. If this situation does not get any better and you get no satisfaction from your center, call DHR and find out if they can help. Good Luck
M.

1 mom found this helpful

Being bitten that many times by the same child is unacceptable! You said that your daughter is not the only target. I would try talking to some of the other parents of children being bitten and approach the daycare staff together and let them know that if something is not done about it then you will be moving your children. However, it is very unfair considering your child is not the problem. The teacher needs to make more of an effort to keep this child under control too.

1 mom found this helpful

most daycares try to deal with it
i use to work at one and we tried different things but finally we told the mom she had to be out 1 week and when she came back she was much better she was about 1 1/2

A.,

I worked in a preschool before i became a legal secretary. The policy was bite 3 times out for a week. If the child came back and they continued to bite, the director told the parents they had to find some other day care/preschool. It is the same where my child goes now(not the same place I worked). Wether there is provocation or not, they should have a policy. Talk to the diector and check your hand book or policies. While I am sure the mother of this biter is frustrated, your child should be the one being taken care of by the daycare.

Good luck

J.

A.,
I know that some daycares will actually have the biter leave the daycare permanently. It is very difficult on everyone involved. The daycare that my 8 month old son used to go to had a policy about biting and after so many "offenses" the parents of the biting child were asked to find another care facility. Good luck with everything.

A.,

First off I believe it's a State of TN regulation that there should be 1 teacher for every 4-6 children depending on the age. I think infants have a 1:4 ratio and toddlers can be 1:6. If your child only has 1 teacher then it sounds like your daycare is understaffing that room. I've not been in your situation but your daycare can ask the biter's parents to find another daycare. That is in their scope to do if the situation is not getting better. Have you spoken to any of the other parents in your child's class and gotten their thoughts/opinions? They may feel the same way as you do. I would see if you can get a meeting between the administrator and the parents of other children that have been bitten and see if you can come up with a workable solution for all.

A., I can understand your frustration! When our oldest was almost 2, he was the target of a biter, and the daycare did not take care of the biter because it ended up being the grandson of the owner. Anyway, we took him out of the daycare and he was then bitten the first week at the new daycare. We had asked at the original place about him instigating ugly behavior, but they assured us that he was very sweet, and was actually quite passive about it. The teacher at the next center told us the same thing. The corporate trainer for the second center met with us and we learned that biters have so many reasons for biting, even excitement. All of that to finally say, the second center did have a policy about biters and they didn't only have to send the biter home after two bites in one day...the bites could come on different days. Perhaps you should dig a little deeper and ask for their written policy about biters...your daughter should not have to be afraid to go to daycare. Nor should you have to feel that you need to find other care for her while the biter is left to stay where he is. This is all based on my own personal experience with my precious oldest son. Good luck!

I had a friend whose child was "the biter". We called him "the shark" in the church nursery. Legally, care providers are incredibly limited on the action they can take. What I did to keep my child out of the shark's way was I bought a rubber dog toy and gave it to the shark. When he felt like biting and bit the toy instead of another child, the nursery lady (Ms. Ruth - she was wonderful!) would give the shark a sticker as a reward. Mom and dad would follow up at the end of the week with a "trade-in" reward for a certain number of stickers. Eventually, they took the toy away, and his child-biting phase was over.

If the daycare can't or won't do anything about it (and I don't see why they can't tell the parents that the =ir child is a danger to the other kids and therefore can't come to school as long as he is biting other kids), then I would take my child elsewhere.
I don't blame her for not wanting to go to school - would you?

The same thing happened with my oldest daughter where she was bitten several times by the same child. He was also biting other children. You should definitely speak with the director of the daycare and voice your concerns. Please listen to what they have to say too. My husband and I met with her together. (He was more upset than I was.) One thing we asked was what their policy is on biting. Something her daycare teacher noticed was that it was usually happening towards the end of the day when he (and all the other children) were getting tired. Maybe there's some pattern that they notice. They watched him, especially later in the day, and tried to keep him from biting the other children. Of course, they cannot see everything. Eventually, the child was asked to leave the daycare, but after the daycare tried several things. I do agree with the parents of biters that it is unfair for them to just be kicked out immediately because it really is a phase, but something must be done to protect the well-being of the other children. Good luck! It is so heart-wrenching to see your baby with bite marks. I hope this is resolved soon.

I say that have FULL responsibility to make certain your child is not hurt in ANY way by a child. I would talk to the director every day until it's resolved. This is always frustrating but at the same time, not fair for the innocent kids being hurt. If the other child can not control their behavior they shouldn't be allowed in class. Biting is painful and none of us want our children hurt. The other parents (of the biter) will have to find alternative care.

I do not agree with advice below that you should gather the other parents and all confront the director. That is ganging up on a parent that may not even realize the full extent of what is going on. If your daycare is allowing your child to get biten this often, they may be a chance that the other parent isn't aware of how serious it is. Getting everyone againt the child and his family will only make things worse. I am also curious - does your daycare actually share with you the name of the biter? Most daycares have a policy that they will not share with the parents the name of the child who bit their child and vice versa - they will not share the name of the child the other one bit because it causes problems between parents. I would speak to the Director privately and if they will not take further action with the biter's parents, you will probably need to move your little one to "safer" facility. It will make you feel better at the end of the day.

I know how frustrating this is, I used to run a day care if the child bit 3 times we would send them home. If the child did it more than 3 time they would have to find him another daycare to go to. He is hurting other children and that is not fair to them. In the centers handbook they should have what is going to happen if the child bites. (how many times etc)

There have been some good responses. I used to work in a preschool and we had biters as well. After the first time, the child had to be within arms length of an adult at all times. The goal was prevention. If the child bit again, timeout and isolation happened immediately each time. The parents had to sign a letter for each bite. For some kids, it did help to give them a small toy to bite instead. For others repeated timeouts were necessary. But it realy took close supervision and fast timeouts to work. It took assigning one staff person to that child alone.

Bites are painful, but they are also dangerous. If a child breaks the skin of another child, that can introduce dangerous bacteria into their system.

I don't know if responsibility is the right word. The daycare needs to recognize that it is an issue and do everything that they can to stop it. Try to keep in mind that biting is a natural stage in development. This is hard to do when your child is on the receiving end. The teachers need to be taught the correct ways to handle the situation. Sending the other child home may not be the right solution. For a lot of children, having Mom or Dad come pick you up is a reward. The only time that any form of guidance will have effect is immediately after it happens. In the time it takes to call the parents and send the child home, the child has already forgotten what it was that they did wrong. And no matter what anyone says, time out is a cop out in these types of behaviors. The teachers need to love on your child and let the other child see it. And then they need to get down on the other child's level and talk to them.
Above all, this is normal, the other child is not "bad" and should not be labeled.

So, should the daycare take responsibility? Yes. If the behavior is continuous, there is a problem in the classroom. There is a breakdown somewhere and it needs to be addressed. If you don't trust that they are doing everything in their power, then you need a new daycare.

I think the daycare's response to this is completely unacceptable! I worked in a preschool daycare (granted it was MANY years ago) and we had a VERY strict policy on biting (regardless of how "normal" it is as a stage some toddlers go through). We had this policy for the safety of ALL the children ... especially those being bitten! We had a three strikes rule ... if a kid bit once, the parent was warned, twice, they were given a second warning (I can't remember the punishment we used, but the child was approprirately punished, too), then after the third incident, the child would be kicked out of the daycare. I worked for an accredited program that only accepted children two and up ... this was 15 years ago, granted. But, as a Mom myself now, I would be thoroughly upset with the response to this problem that you've gotten so far! Your daughter should not be put at risk just because of a phase of another child, and something more should be done! Good luck and let us know what happens!

My daughter is 17 mnths and has been the reciever of a bad bite from another child. My day care's solution is that if it were to keep happening that child should no doubt be removed from day care until he/she no loner bites. That should not even be an option. I would not tolerate my child being bitten.....especially 10 times. Hope you get throuh this soon. if your daycare doesnt remove this child, I would look to putting my child elsewhere...

i understand the biting thing. My son got bite at least 5 time. Three times by the same child. I was mad. My daycare, said that once the child starts to bite another child. They put the "bitter" in a crib, when they can not watch them closley. Then if the "bitter" continues to bite again, they will move them out of the room. That is good to me. I do think the daycare shoudl take more responabilty on this issue. They shoud take the "bitter" out of the facility and placed at home with parents, until issue is resolved. I hope this helps

Unfortunately, biting is a stage most toddlers go through and it is tough to deal with. My own son was a biter and we had a hard time with it. Our solution was that every time he would bite, we would put a lemon on his tongue. It stopped pretty quickly after that! However, since you're not the parent of the biter, that doesn't help you much. I think you should voice your concern to the daycare about the safety of your child. Tell them you are worried that this child could really hurt her. Request that your daughter not be put next to him to watch movies or anything else; that you want them separated. Even though your daugher likes her new teacher, if the teacher is failing to be able to watch/handle the class, then she doesn't need to be with the little ones. They need someone who can manage to keep an eye on them all & can diffuse problems before they start. No teacher can do this 100 percent of the time, but this one doesn't seem to be able to do it at all if it is happening as frequently as you say. If things don't get better soon, then I would approach them again with the concerns but this time suggest moving your daughter to another class. I know it's hard to switch, but her safety has to come first.

As a former chilcare worker I have to say that your daycares response is unacceptable. Although biting is indeed very normal for toddlers, it is not acceptable that this child has bitten your daughter and others numerous times and has not been removed from the facilty. I would try to voice my concerns again, and if nothing is done, and your child continues to be a target, I would definently put her in another daycare. If they can't ensure your daughters continued safety then she needs to be with a provider who can. I have a 2 year old myself who is in School, and I would be very upset if this was happening to him on a regular basis. Good Luck and I hope everything works out!!

I am the owner of the preschool and this is a common problem. However there could be a number of reasons why this child is biting. He may be going through some things at home. At any rate there are a few things that we will try. Have a meeting with the childs parents to see if there's something going on at home. If so assist the parent in getting some type of counseling for the child. While working on an action plan with that child there's a few things the teacher can do. She can keep the biter close to her at all times. She can be a little more observant (being a teacher isn't easy even when in the states ratio requirements) to determine what time of the day is the biting happening and which activities are taking place. Unfortunately if all else fails the child must be dismissed. However the provider may want to have a disciplinary policy in place during the enrollment process to protect the school from any discriminiatory lawsuits. However please keep in mind any child can become a biter at any time.

As a person who worked in daycares while in college and then worked in the public school system as a teacher, I think it is your duty to make a big deal about this. Yes, the parents of the biter are probably embarrassed, but you have to keep your child's best interests in mind. I would say something DAILY and make make sure they know you mean business!

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