Bitten in the Preschool

Updated on May 06, 2011
D.K. asks from Bellevue, WA
19 answers

Hi all moms,

My 2.5 year old got bitten in the toddler room of his preschool recently. There are a few kids in his class known for biting. My son's arm had a huge blue-black and swollen bite mark for a few hours after that. The director of the preschool has said that they cannot take any action on the biters because of their age - they are mainly 18-24 month olds who cannot express themselves and also because biting is too common at that age.

My kid is going to stay in that classroom for atleast another 5 months. Its basically equal to sending him daily to a place full of landmines. I am constantly worried about him getting bitten again and mainly because of potential risk of infection (

What do you think I should do? Is biting that hard really very common in preschools? If I am going to send him to any preschool, should I accept the hard fact that he will get bitten sometime or the other? What do you feel about any infection risk? What have your experiences and responses been?

Thank you all for patiently reading through and appreciate all sound advice.

**UPDATE** The director made it clear they cannot remove my child from that class just because he got bitten. They do not have any biting policy for toddler class, the most they can and do is shadow the known biters. They have been doing it since past couple weeks and still my son got bitten so their steps to avoid it are obviously not working! They won't even disclose who bit him so I may never know if its the same kid if he gets bitten again!

PS: Please do not judge me by this, he's my first and only kid and I haven't seen or heard kids getting bitten back in my generation! Maybe I wasn't too attentive then, but this is new to me and seeing a huge painful swelling for no fault of my dear child is painful!

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So What Happened?

thank you everyone for your non-judgemental opinions. I have come to realize that if I have to work, i have to bear with such incidents since apparently its unavoidable! Bottomline is its really hard emotionally to be a working mom! :(
I can really just pray my poor child doesnot have to go through this again.

Featured Answers



answers from New York on

That age group is notorious for biting. If you feel like you are sending him
to a "place full of landmines", then I think you need to keep him home.
Talk to the teachers. You can have biters anywhere. If the skin was not
broken there is no risk for infection.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This happened to my son also. It is a phase for the classmates and they do out grow it. The change of infection all be it a chance is a small one. I think you just need to let it be, if you are really upset by it then find another preschool.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Sacramento on

My kids were both bitten. It happens. If you move your child to another preschool, he may be bitten there, too, or be in a class with a hitter, spitter or kicker. Kids at that age do all sorts of awful things because their communication skills aren't fully developed.

It's no fun to see your child injured, but rest assured that the parents of the biter feel 100x worse. It's very, very hard to stop a child from biting both as parents and for the teachers. I sat right next to our daughter when she was bitten and couldn't stop it. The biter then struck again and again, I couldn't stop it in time. So, know the fact your child got bit doesn't reflect at all on the teachers.

Hopefully the biter in your son's class will overcome this phase soon!

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I'm 63, and I assure you that toddlers bit when I was little. In fact, I was a biter – only once that I know of. And a younger sister repeatedly bit me and the next oldest, according to my grandmother. As I grew up, a number of neighborhood toddlers developed reputations for biting.

Biting is common – I'd guess that most preschools have to deal with it somewhat regularly. Any child can become a biter, a practice that usually emerges between the ages of 1.5 to 2 or so, and as your school mentioned, it's usually because they don't have words yet to say what they want or tell another child to stop bothering them. They bite out of frustration or sometimes too much excitement, like puppies nipping.

Shadowing known biters is the best accepted professional response, does prevent most biting, and is usually effective within a few weeks. But even with shadowing and teaching the kids to use words instead of biting, bites happen very, very quickly, and not every bite can be stopped in time.

It is distressing to discover your son was bitten, and I can really understand your upset over this. It is equally distressing to learn your child is the biter (my grandson, a generally agreeable and gentle child, had a few weeks at his preschool being "The Biter.") If you did switch daycare facilities, you could again encounter biting toddlers in other places as well.

There is some possibility of infection, but most bites don't break the skin. You can help resolve the swelling and bruising by applying Arnica Montana and/or St. John's Wort (also called Hypericum) oil a few times daily. These herbal oils are available at your local health food store. They work best immediately after the injury, but will help the bruises go away faster even a couple of days later.

Sorry to hear this has happened to your little guy.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

My daycare/preschool has a repeat biter policy that I had to sign. If your child is a repeat biter (warnings for one bite, two bites in one week, etc) then you may be asked to leave. Also, if a child bites your child and breaks the skin, a call is made to the parents ASAP.

I have to say that my daughter has been bit a few times in three years (prob 5 times). Usually not too badly. And by different kids. She even bit once. I was so embarrased.

I think that if there is one particular biter in the class, you need to speak up. Also, keep note of when it happens. You really don't need to put up with it if it's from one kid - but you really can't avoid it all together, either.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My son was the biter. He bit all the time for about 6-8 months, around the 18-24 months mark. He bit because he was frustrated or upset - often because he wanted a specific toy. At the daycare, they put him in time out after biting, but he still bit. We talked about it at home every night and in the car on the way to daycare. We talked about it so much that every time we drove past the daycare, he would say "no biting." BUT HE STILL KEPT BITING. He was so impulsive, and in the moment, that even though the knew it was wrong, he couldnt stop.

Eventually, he just out grew it.

He also got bit by his little classmates many times - in two different daycare settings. He has also been bitten by friends at playdates. Lots of bruises and red marks, but never any infections.

The problem is that there is not much anyone can do about it. Biting normally happens in times of transition / less orderly times. The best the school can really do is shadow the biter during those times and closely supervise and help teach the biter better ways to express himself.

The only thing I cant think that you could do would be to take him out of daycare/preschool and keep him at home. Any place you go with kids in that age range - you run the risk of running into a biter. :(

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

It is very common.

What to do - if you're worried about him being injured in any way, shape, or form, you need to pull him out and keep him at home. Your kid is going to be bitten, hit, tripped, called bad names during school. It doesn't make it acceptable but it happens. Part of the early childhood learning experience includes learning how to express one's feelings through words and not actions, learning that undesirable actions have a consequence, learning that we don't treat our friends that way, and allowing students to practice acceptable forms of behavior and have those acceptable forms be rewarded and reinforced.

Is biting really common? Yes.

Should you accept the fact that he will be bitten? The chances are pretty high that he will. As he gets older, another kid may push or shove him.

Infection risk? Um, no I wouldn't be worried about that at all.

My experience? My kid was bitten at school and it stopped. These things seem to come in waves. Fortunately the school was really good at helping the biter learn better ways to express frustration by using words. It passed.

Unless you're having to take him to the ER then you should realize that these things will happen. If you're concerned about the "place full of landmines" maybe homeschooling in your protective home is a better option.

If the place your child is at does not have a policy about biting, pull them now. Sounds like they're not a very good school to begin with since pretty much every place I've ever heard of has very solid biting management plans!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Biting is common in preschools but biting was common in our house. Two of the kids were bitters. We had to work with them very hard to get them to stop. They just went from biting to hitting and then they became old enough to speak and those kinds of problems decreased.

If the skin wasn't broken there is little risk of infection. If the skin was broken then taking your kid to the doctor's office would be appropriate or even the emergency room but call your doctor first. Unfortunately these things happen.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

What CAWriterMom said. My daughter was bitten through a heavy coat and the skin was broken. The same child has bitten a number of other kids as well. It's going to happen. Moving your child to a different preschool does not eliminate the risk.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

It is fairly common and as a parent, I've been on both sides. My daughter was bitten (multiple times by same kid), my son bit (once, but a bad one). My kids are still there and I love the school they are in. Overall, look at the school. What do the teachers do when this behavior occurs? Is there discipline? Is the biter's mom/dad made aware? What is the policy if it continues. If the overall environment is one you like and you feel the school is doing all they can (examples above) this stage will pass, and you will still be happy your child is there. Good luck to you.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

Very common, occurs in all preschools. The risk of infection is minimal. As long as the school has some policies in place and sufficient supervision, there's not much you can do. Children who are excessively aggressive can be removed from the school, but you will never find a place that is biting-free. Be sure the incident is documented and taken seriously, but honestly, what else can you do?

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

My son was bitten at a local play area. Hard. It has been over a month now, and he STILL has a mark on his leg.

It happens, and I don't think you can avoid it, unless you just happen to be extremely lucky.

My son, poor traumatized kid, now goes into the play area, and when he senses another child getting uncomfortably close, I hear him saying, "please don't bite me, I was bitten before." Sometimes he shows them the mark. He's 5, though. It's a really tough thing. I was mortified. But as far as avoiding it, not sure you can. I'd just make darned sure that the teachers are on high alert with the "biter" and are catching him before things escalate to biting. I know they can't be on top of every kid every minute, but if they have a known culprit, they should absolutely be watching him or her closely.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

It's normal for that age group & changing centers won't change the likelihood of it happening again. My daughter got bitten various times from the age of 1-2 & none of the wounds got infected. It sucked & I felt the way you do, but it's a phase & won't last forever. I do believe that some centers will "kick out" a chronic biter. But that's also hard because we all have to work & being a working parent of a little one requires childcare. As bad as you feel now, imagine being the parent of a biter. And no, they don't ever disclose the name of the biter.

Why is your 2.5 year old stuck with the younger group, anyway? And why would he still be with the 18-24 month age range for the next 5 months? That doesn't really make any sense. I'd have more of an issue with the fact that he was not in a class with his age group, personally.

I would focus on getting him moved up with the bigger kids & if the center won't do that, then I would probably start looking for a different center. As far as the biting, yes, you are probably overreacting, but I do understand your feelings because I've been there, done that.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

The methods that the director has described sound right on track- they never will disclose who did the biting because it breaks confidentiality. (Ask your child- he'll probably tell you who did it!) And honestly if your child was the one doing the biting, you wouldn't want all the other parents knowing about it and talking about him, would you? (Because they will...)

I've been a toddler teacher and shadowed a child who was "a biter" and it is HARD! Even though you are RIGHT THERE, sometimes you can't always stop a child from biting another child. I could stop her 10+ times, but miss just once and someone gets a bite- I can guarantee that parent didn't care that we stopped a bite from happening 10+ times! They saw that swollen bruise with teeth marks on their child's arm and it made them angry, sad, frustrated, etc. Your reaction is normal and very common, but just know that (hopefully) the teachers are truly doing what they have been trained to do (shadowing) and remember that they aren't perfect.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dover on

First of all, you can't go searching every single potentially medical issue out online. You'll drive yourself crazy with worry. Is there a possibility of infection from a bite? Of course, but the same can be said for a paper cut. So leave that part out of it. If you are really super concerned about an infection, give a call to the pediatrician, don't go looking online.

There will always be biters in pre-schools, but that doesn't mean that the school can have no form of recourse. My daughter was bitten 1 time & I let the pre-school she was attending know that if it happened again by the same child that I would remove her from the school, period. There comes a point where a problem becomes habitual & then the school needs to handle it. If they have 1 or 2 children consistently biting the remaining 20, well those 2 need to be removed from the equasion.

It sounds like the school you are dealing with has quite clearly told you they have no intention of doing anything about it, so you're left with the choice of dealing with it or finding another school. You cannot force them to change their policies, though, so pick an option & go with it.



answers from Chattanooga on

I feel like it must be fairly common, as it's something that is asked/complained about fairly often on here! lol. I don't really know what advice to give you though...



answers from Kansas City on

I don't blame you for being upset. I don't have any advice though, but wanted to say that my nephew was removed from his daycare for biting others. This was years ago, he is 12 now. I would be looking for a new place for my child.



answers from Austin on

We had the same issue with my then 2 year old being bitten by another child. It is unfortunately a phase some toddlers go through and there is nothing "official" they can do. However we are lucky as our Director made it clear to the teacher's to keep a closer eye on the known biter and she also helped keep an eye on the offender. She also told the teachers to remove him/her from the situation either by having that child stay near the teacher or by placing the child in a swing (if outdoors) or giving the child a distraction. It worked perfectly. You should talk to your director again.

Biters can be common so teachers just have to be more vigilant and reminded to please be more observant. The ration of teachers/children is same for each school so there should be no difference in work load.

The only time you have to worry about potential infection if the child bites hard enough for the skin to break.



answers from Honolulu on

tell them, if your child can switch to the older class, already.
Your child is 2.5.
The majority of the other kids are 18-24 months old, as you said.
Your child is older.

Kids at those ages, do not have, fully developed impulse-control.
Kids that age, do bite.
It does happen.

Yes, you don't want your kid getting hurt.
Thus, talk with the Director and try having your child switched to the other class, already.

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