My 4 Year Old Bit Another Child!

Updated on August 18, 2011
T.W. asks from Windsor, CA
14 answers

Hi Mama's,

I picked up my 4 year old son from preschool today and found out from his teacher that he bit another kid. The teacher was not able to give me many details of what happened; the kids were outside, my son was playing in a group that was getting rowdy and then is when my son bit the other child. This is a child that he has played with many time and has spoke about at home with nothing ever negative to say. My son has never bit another child before or to my knowledge showed any aggression towards any of the other kids.

Background:: We just got back from vacation so this was my son's first day back to school. We also got a dog about a month ago (in case that might relevant as a change in the house).

When my daughter was in preschool she was the child to receive the bite. So I now have been on both sides. I didn't expect an apology from the parents, when my daughter was bit but I was reading another blog regarding a similar situation and there was mix responses, some parents would and some wouldn't. As the parent of the child that received the bite, would you expect an apology from the other parents?

Have you experienced your child biting another child in preschool? How did you handle the situation both at home and at school?


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answers from Los Angeles on

I don't necessarily know if its expected. But my youngest is a biter, and even when I don't know the parents, like at a park or something. I stomp his little behind over and make him apologize and then also apologize myself and explain we are working on and I'm sorry I didn't see it coming this time! Most are receptive some are still po'd, but I always feel better knowing that I did the best I can, which is apologize :)

Good Luck!

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from San Francisco on

I think the child who bites should be required to apologize. It's humbling, which would help curb the behavior. My kids bit each other a couple of times, and they had to own it. If a child outside our family bit, I would expect the parents to require the child to apologize.

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answers from Williamsport on

I'm not sure what I would expect if this happened to my child (these days, I probably wouldn't have very high expectations), but if my child bit another child, YES they would absolutely need to apologize, and so would I. Profusely.

As for discipline, if he has never bit another living soul, I would not discipline him this time, but he would need to apologize and he would have a very clear explanation of what would happen if he ever did it again. At his age, he would understand, and I would follow through with the MAJOR consequences if he did it again.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I think an apology is nice. It shows you care. I don't think any of my daycare parents have ever talked to each other though. So it's not common. But being 4 and biting is NOT common at all either. I disagree with the person that said not to punish the first time. I would make sure there is major consequences for DAYS. A 4 year old is old enough to remember what they did and why.

To the first person that answered ... When I was bit by a dog and the lady brushed it off as "not that bad". I went ahead and sued her. I didn't think I'd ever do something like that. But she grabbed my elbow and pulled it up to her face immediately after while I was still in shock. I felt that her grabbing me without my consent was more of a violation than what her dog did. She made me so mad. I figured she deserved it. Let her insurance drop her. That was the fastest 1600 bucks I ever earned. That's my part. The lawyer got the rest of a 2500 dollar settlement.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

I do think I would expect an apology, and I would apologize if my child bit another child.
My daughter was bitten at preschool by her good friend. We are also very close to the parents of the child that bit my daughter. The mom and I spoke about it. I didn't get an apology because the mom said her daughter's bite "wasn't very hard." I was a bit annoyed.



answers from Minneapolis on


Years ago I received a phone call from my daughter's kindergarten teacher saying that she had choked another little girl in the library. Yes, she choked her. The teacher said she would never have believed it but the librarian saw her do it. Well, this was very unlike my daughter to do but I knew what was going on. We had two significantly older children who were in sports and we had been out quite late for several nights in a row at sporting events. My daughter was exhausted and just could not control herself. It was a big lesson to us and we started making sure she got to bed by seven every night. We hired lots of neighborhood kids to come and sit while we went to the events of the older kids. I have to wonder if this is the same thing with your son. What else we did is my daughter made a card for the other little girl (who was a friend, they played at each others houses) apologizing for choking her and I brought her to school the next morning and all was fine. We never had another incident and she is now a senior in college earning her BSN. Don't worry to much about it, I'm sure he is fine.



answers from Albuquerque on

I don't think I'd expect an apology - but if I was close to the other parents, I'd want them to acknowledge the incident. If I didn't know them, I'd probably want them to tell the teacher they're going to work with their kid, and have the teacher to pass that along to me.

And, of course... I'd want the child not to bite mine again. So I guess all you can do is work with your son on how to express his anger and frustration (other than biting). Many hugs to you - I'm sure it's probably worse being on this end than having your daughter biten.



answers from Sacramento on

From your post, it sounds like this is a first time for your child biting another child. This is rather unusual because most kids do their biting at an earlier age. I would assume that the several changes in routine lately have something to do with this situation. Also, at age four is he possibly working on getting in some molar teeth? If so, and his mouth is bothering him, that might have contributed to him biting. You mention that the group he was in was getting "rowdy". Have you tried to find out what happened before he bit the other child? Did that child do something to cause him to retaliate, or perhaps another child did something and the child he bit just happened to be closer for him to take out his frustration? You do need to do discipline... not punishment.
As far as an apology to the other parents is concerned, I think if you see them at the preschool when dropping off the children, you might say something, but I don't think it's necessary for you to go out of your way to seek them out. Do have your son apologize to their child as part of his discipline, however.
I'm just not getting the idea that this is a really big deal, but it's something that should make you ready to be watchful in case it is a sign of something else going on in your son's life that you need to deal with.



answers from San Francisco on

My oldest daughter was a biter. Largely, I believe, because she was smaller than her peers and felt out of control. It was very embarrassing as a parent! I tried the "bite her back" method that my mother suggested and she just came at me in rage. This was not compatible with our personalities or relationship but it works for some. What eventually worked for her was a "flick" to the mouth. It seems like her anger energy was focused there and when I could get to her immediately after she bit another, my flick (sometimes it hurt, others it was just a brush) and the action of anticipation that her anger would be met with a consequence, seemed to work. 4-5 "flicks" and we were through a behavioral issue that really had me going for 4 years! I really do not wish this on any parent and really hope this method helps someone! I am also very sorry for the victim's families, it is awful all around but certainly, as stated before, a "normal" behavior - just not a desirable one!!!



answers from Sacramento on

My son has been on both ends. I believe this happens frequently in preschool, because children are just learning how to communicate and many of them don't have the necessary language to express themselves. I never expected an apology nor have I given one. I did expect the teacher(s) to handle it appropriately, then I reinforced their expectations.



answers from Modesto on

I have only been on the receiving end. My son was bitten in preschool-hard enough to bruise him through a winter coat. Had he not been wearing the coat it would have drawn blood. The parent did apologize and had her son apologize too. She informed me later that the boy had been sent to his room from the end of school that day until dinner time as his punishment. I felt an apology was in order, and luckily I got it. Had I not received and apology I would have felt like the parent felt the bite was justified or in some way deserved by my kid ( which is impossible really- no one ever deserves to be bitten but some people do think this way). I would have felt the wrong message was being sent to the kid who gave the bite. Kids need to be taught to get the teacher for help if they cannot resolve a difference of opinion themselves. I f my kid bit another kid I would be horrified. My son and I would give apologies. He would receive a severe pushiment ( exactly what would it would be just depends on what is going on in his life at the time - no tv/no soccer league/giving away a favorite toy -something along these lines). My son would also be talked to about his feelings regarding why he did the biting (he obviously had a reason and this needs to be acknowledged) and how he could have acted differently to resolve the situation. He would be told that biting is not ok under any circumstances. So there is my opinion in a nutshell. Good luck guiding your child through this tough situation.



answers from San Francisco on

This happened to my son twice at two different pre-schools. The one where the parent did not apologize we were soo livid that they ended up removing him. The other, the parent apologized and the child apologized to my son and they hugged. I think this just made us feel better because we knew that the parents did indeed care and did not think it was acceptable. I think that is all reasonable parents want is to know that the other parent cares. If not, we tend to think the child would continue to act out in this mannerl Sometimes it is a fluke thing. There were no hard feelings after. We were very understanding to the second incident.
Now, I think if you just let your child know, absolutely no biting, they will get the hint. Just be stern and say, I will not accept biting.



answers from San Francisco on

My daughter bit another child two times. Both boys, both times they were roughhousing and she lost control. I spoke with her about how she had lost control and we talked about how that felt. We also sat down and wrote a letter to the second child (that was at preschool, the other time was at a friend's house when I was present and we immediately ended the playdate after she apologized to her friend). I did the actual writing and coached her on what to say and had her sign it. I also wrote a note to the parents apologizing as they were not parents I saw at pickup and dropoff. She also lost privileges that day. In the weeks following if it seemed like her behavior was escalating to a point where she might lose control, I would remind her about that and try to cool things off. It never happened again. She was I think 4 for both biting incidents. If you had just returned from vacation, your son may have been tired and with the rough housing he may have felt overwhelmed by the other kids and just lost control. I would speak to him about that and what it feels like and have a consequence, also speak to him about how it made you feel. But give him the tools to know what to do when rough housing is starting and he wants out before he loses control.



answers from San Francisco on

People, when part of a group, tend to have a "pack" mentality, much like animals. You say your son was part of a group of kids that were getting "rowdy." I chalk the bite up to the "pack" mentality. I bet he did it impulsively - didn't think because he was riled up by the group. I think he should apologize to the other student. I don't think an apology to the parents is necessary. I don't think I would put a lot on it at home. Maybe an afternoon of no outside or no cartoons or something like that, but I wouldn't really make a big deal out of it unless it happens again.

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