BITING-OUCH!

Children That BiteChildren biting is a very complex behavior and extremely difficult to figure out. If you are enrolling your child into a preschool for the first time you are probably concerned about what happens if your child gets bitten.

Will the center tell me which child did it? Do I need to pull my child out? Should I expect the center to remove the child that bit mine? What if it goes through the skin? What if my child starts biting?

What do I do?

Throughout my career I have told many moms there is one thing I can almost guarantee — at some point your child will get bitten or bite another child. It’s just something that happens in young children when socializing with other small children. It occurs mostly in the toddler age group although it can happen in younger and older age groups as well.

There are many reasons a child may bite another child. Some children experience more difficulty with this behavior than others and some children never bite.

I would strongly suggest you do not play biting games with your child. I have seen many parents affectionately bite their child’s thighs, arms, hands, just lovingly playing with their child. This behavior will motivate your child to a negative behavior you do not want your child to perform. Your child will interpret it as biting is okay and even a sign of affection. Always try and motivate your child toward the behavior you want them to perform.

Some children bite while they are teething. Teeth are growing in and their gums really are hurting. They are very uncomfortable and do not know how to handle the pain or express their discomfort.

Very often a child who bites grows out of it when they start communicating better. A bite today can eventually become “that’s my toy” tomorrow. If a child is actively biting children every day and the behavior appears unable to be corrected, he or she might need a break from the childcare setting for a season. That does not mean forever! Usually all children will grow out of this behavior with time and maturity. When the season passes, enroll your child in a center again.

Most good preschools use one or more national curriculums and are the best environment for your toddler to excel. The development of social and learning skills through the use of a national curriculum will be instrumental in preparing your child for success in kindergarten. Being at home has its benefits, but the advantages of being in the right childcare setting are numerous. Some of these benefits are interacting with children of the same age group, doing art projects, learning how to color, to write and use scissors, potty training, exploring new foods, playing in different developmental centers, as well as experiencing a structured age appropriate curriculum.

If your child gets bitten, do not expect the center to tell you which child did the biting. I do not believe it is good practice for parents to be able to single out the child that has inflicted a bite on their own child. It can only lead to your looking upon that child in a negative manner.

It could lead to parent confrontations or even a parent directing the child not to play with a certain child. Imagine how you would feel if your child bit someone in the class and the other parent knew it was your child. One day you might hear a parent telling little Johnny, “Do not play with Suzie because she’s mean and she will bite you. Stay away from her!” Always remember, labeling is disabling. No child is bad. A child may express bad behavior but all kids are good children and should NEVER hear otherwise.

If you selected the right center, the staff will work with all the parties concerned in a loving, compassionate way, bringing everyone together for the betterment of the children involved.

Sometimes certain children need to be separated if it seems one child is continually biting another child in particular. This is not a common occurrence, but it does take place.

Sometimes biting can be a sign of boredom. If a child is in a classroom that he or she does not find challenging, it can lead to the child acting out.

In some cases children who are having a hard time with biting might benefit from being moved into an older classroom. Around older children they may feel less in control and it could alter their behavior patterns.

If your child gets bitten and it goes through the skin, you should expect a call, but don’t panic. A good center should call you and give you a heads up before you arrive to pick up your child and are taken off guard when seeing that your child has a serious bite mark.

You should be given an accident report and if it makes you feel more comfortable, take your child to your pediatrician to be checked out. In all cases of a bite breaking the skin, I would recommend treating the bite with an antibiotic.

Every situation is different. Work with your center. Trust the advice of the owner and the directors. If you don’t trust their advice you shouldn’t trust them with your child.

Have an open heart. Biting is stressful for the family whose child was bitten, but is equally stressful for the family dealing with their child’s biting problem.

If your child does get bitten, just remember…
the child that is doing the biting someday just might be yours.