metro mama

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Twice Bitten

I’ve been really happy with Cakes’ nursery school, but there is a little situation going on now, and I need your advice.

About a week ago, Cakes was bitten by another child (the two of them had been fighting over a toy). Her teacher talked to me about it; the skin wasn’t broken, and Cakes wasn’t upset. They said the other child was going through a tough transition (new baby I think), and I was sympathetic. They said they’d talk to his parents and we left it at that.

A couple of days ago, she was bitten again, by the same kid (they were fighting over a chair). I talked to the teachers, as well as the school administrator. I asked them what they’re doing about it and they said they have talked to the parents again. I asked for copies of the incident reports.

Now I’m not sure what to do. They say this is fairly common—is it? Has anyone else been on either end of this? I understand there isn’t a lot we can do. The teachers are great—they try to really watch the two kids, but they gravitate towards each other. Cakes plays well with the other kids, but she and this boy seem to clash.

I know the boys’ parents are in a tough situation too, and I’m sympathetic towards them. The more attention they give this behaviour, the more it’s rewarded.

So, wise internets, what can I do? I’m worried she’ll be bitten again, and worse next time. Should I talk to her, and tell her to stay away from this boy? (I doubt she’d listen anyway). Is there anything else the school can/should be doing?


I found out a friend of mine (also the mother a gorgeous girl Cakes’ age) is blogging. She’s a wonderful writer and she speaks her mind. I’ve been raving about the mommy blogging community, so prove me right and go on over and say hello (another Toronto blogger, yay!)



Blogger jer said...

Metro, i am sorry to hear that; you precede me in this experience. From what i've heard this stuff is not uncommon but it's something to watched closely. Looks like you're doing all the right things so far...

Thanks for the intro!

9:39 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

I wish I had some advice but I don't, except to say sounds like you're doing everything right so far...

9:50 AM  
Blogger Dirkey said...

Is there any way they can separate them are there two classes for that age group? I used to manage a pre-school and didn't really have any trouble with kids biting other kids, more than once. If they are fighting over things how long are the teachers letting them go before intervening, if I saw children fighting over something I would either take the offending thing away or not let either of them play with it. Usually got to it and helped diffuse it before it got physical. I would question them on the supervision, and just see what they say.

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

As far as I know, this is fairly common. Not acceptable, but certainly common.

Sometimes children have feelings that they don't undersatnd, and they may lash out. Sometimes screaming and having tantrums, some will hit, some will bite.

Talk to the school about what course of action they are taking, and what they are recommending to the "biter's" family. The family needs to be on board to help curb the behaviour as well, and you need reassurance that this is happening.

Otherwise, really, I would suggest talking to Cakes about what to do if the boy bites her (tell him to stop, that it hurts. Tell the teacher, whatever plan the school has in place).

At one of my sons schools, when this happens, the biter is encouraged to get ice for the person bitten, and make sure that they are okay. This helps teach them some empathy (as much as you can with a 3 year old) and will, hopefully, help prevent recurrences.

As a parent it is our job to protect our children, and also the help them to learn to protect themselves.

Sorry to be so longwinded! Good luck with the situation. It sounds like there are good teachers and they are open to communication.

11:06 AM  
Blogger ewe are here said...

Poor Cakes!

It sounds like you're doing the right things so far... but it does sound like a caretaker needs to hover as soon as any type of squabbling starts up with the biter until the habit is broken.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Redneck Mommy said...

Ouch. I feel for Cakes. I'm going to assume that you also spoke with the boy's parents and not just the teachers.

I don't know what I'd do...except maybe hope some kid bites him and teaches him the error of his ways.

(Very immature I know.)

12:12 PM  
Anonymous MetroDad said...

If it happens again, tell Cakes to bite the other kid as hard as she can. I guarantee you that it's the last time that other kid acts out again.

12:35 PM  
Blogger Beck said...

Ouch, poor baby. I don't know what to say, aside from maybe telling Cakes to avoid ol' Bitey.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Winston said...

Does it bother you more because it's biting (e.g. as opposed to hitting)? If so, is this additional concern warranted? (e.g. is a toddler's bite actually possibly more dangerous than being hit by a toddler?) These are honest questions -- I don't know the answer.

What's the worst that can happen? And how likely is it that this will actually happen? Those are the questions that should guide your response.

3:14 PM  
Blogger something blue said...

I think it's very common. Both my daughters have been bitten at daycare. It happened a couple times and then stopped.

I know that most policies allow daycares the right to refuse care to children who continue hurting others. Hopefully it doesn't get to that point.

3:22 PM  
Blogger kgirl said...

What a crappy situation, all around. I think it would be pretty hard to stay calm after the second time, so hopefully it won't happen again. I would think that the teachers can maybe be a little more diligent in keeping the two away from each other without making it seem as though Cakes is being punished for what's going on.

3:40 PM  
Blogger Ms. Porter said...

I haven't had to deal with biting or any nasty behaviour (besides kids who don't share...normal) so I can't really offer advice. I do think you have handled it perfectly so far. Good luck, it would be really great if you do a follow up post to let us know if things just work themselves out or if you do anything know, to help the rest of us out.
By the way, when I got home today there was a package waiting for me in my mailbox!!!! Yahoozie, I got the book and since it's my birthday this weekend I plan on spending at least one afternoon lounging with my new book. Thanks again...and I promise to post about it and then pass it along to one of my readers.

4:46 PM  
Blogger bubandpie said...

My former care-giver's son was a biter. He never broke the skin, but there were several occasions where there was a visible mark. I never really thought it was that big of a deal - at the time, Pie was subject to constant pushing and shoving from her brother, and that can be just as painful. The caregiver was exceptionally attentive and consistent in her responses - SHE was the one who managed to train Bub to stop pushing, so I know the biting was not a result of any negligence on her part.

The one real drawback was that the Pie eventually picked up the habit herself, but fortunately, she almost never actually closes her teeth - she just gloms on with her mouth wide open while Bub roars in dismay and runs away.

8:54 PM  
Blogger nomotherearth said...

The Boy was bitten once.

If this continues, i would suggest that they hire someone temporarily to "shadow" the biting kid until the behaviour is corrected. If nothing else, this person is always on hand to intervene quickly should the kid try to bite again.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Betty Bishop said...

For the time being I would ask the staff to keep the biter away from my kid and be sure he knows it is "because you bit her". Other than that I think it best to leave it to the kids. They will sort it out.
If he bites someone and breaks the skin he should be removed from the school. My friends little boy was a horrible biter but he has grown up to be a great young man!

1:04 PM  
Blogger mamatulip said...

Neither of my kids has ever been bitten -- though they've never regularly attended day care, Julia did go to preschool and Oliver will follow.

I have been on the other end of the spectrum, though...Oliver went through a biting phase this summer. It happen suddenly and quickly and I didn't know what to do at all. He bit two kids, one older than him and one younger, and on the latter child he left a terrible mark/bruise. I was absolutely beside myself.

He bit Julia a few days later, and then me, quite hard, and that's when I bit him back. Not super hard, but enough to make him realize how what he was doing felt.

He's never done it since.

I'm sorry I don't have more advice for you...have you talked to the biter's parents at all?

2:32 PM  
Blogger metro mama said...

You guys are awesome! Keep the ideas coming.

Dirkey: The second time it happened, one teacher was in the other room and the other was a sub (the regular was sick that day). Unfortunately, there is only one room for this age group. They have promised to be vigilant about watching the pair of them.

Naomi: I like that idea--I'll suggest it.

Winston: Yes, I definitely think biting warrants extra concern - they can do a lot of damage with those teeth.

Mama T and Redneck Mommy: they don't tell you who it is, but if I talk to Cakes she'll probably tell me. I don't know if I want to approach the parents. They're probably feeling badly enough as it is.

Mrs. Porter: happy birthday! enjoy the book.

Bubandpie: this is another thing I'm worried about.

Nomotherearth: yes, I wonder if they can get some extra help in the class--plus, she's only there 3 days/week.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Mommyprenuer said...

Take it from a (empathetic) veteran. . .this is a fact of life. Unless this is a daily occurence with this biting bandit (and not just involving your child, but ANY child) I would chalk it up as just that.

3:25 PM  
Blogger kittenpie said...

It is common. Pumpkinpie was bitten, my sister was a biter, we had a couple of bites in the short time I taught daycare. I wold tell her not to engage with him too much, to tell him loudly that that hurt and she didn't like it, and to let the teachers know that you would like to hear about any followup or what measures they are taking with the boy and with Cakes in the aftermath. Just my two cents. (But also, in my experience, it passes pretty quickly, like a month maybe.)

5:44 PM  
Blogger Kyla said...

It is incredibly common. Some kids are biters and there is really very little the caretakers can do when tending to a group of children.

4:59 PM  
Blogger Lisa b said...

My experience is also that the biters tend to be shut down in ways others have described. It does tend to be short lived in my experience too.
If it continues I do believe the child can be asked to leave the daycare but perhaps that was just policy at my daycare.

9:19 PM  
Blogger crazymumma said...

I'll ask around, we never went thru it.

8:42 PM  
Blogger b*babbler said...

Oh dear... poor Cakes!

No advice, as I haven't been through it (yet), but hoping it all resolves quickly and with no blood shed.

8:09 PM  
Blogger Chicagoland Mamacita! said...

It's incredibly common, especially among children who aren't totally verbal yet. They become frustrated when they can't communicate/get their point across (You have a toy I want. Give to me!) and often biting is the result.

Since Cakes is verbal, she can say Stop! No! Mine! Ideally, the other child will stop before anything happens, but Cakes' words will also alert the teacher that something's happening and lead to intervention.

The other child, I would guess, is not as verbal - but can still be told what not to do.

Good luck! This happened to us; this too shall pass.

1:09 PM  

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