Biting at nursery

(24 Posts)
catweazle Mon 13-Oct-08 18:33:30

DD is 19 mo. She has been biting me for months- on the arms usually but also wherever she can get me. She thinks it's funny. I tell her no firmly and put her down but it does no good.

Now she has started biting at nursery shock. We had a few incidents a couple of weeks ago of biting other children on the arm- and also got bitten herself by somebody else. (They won't tell you who else is involved so I don't know if it's the same child)

Today nursery say she almost bit another child on the face. Apparently she pulled out a chair to sit on and another child sat on it. She got upset and tried to get them off but they wouldn't budge so she went for them.

Part of me thinks that is quite understandable for a child who doesn't yet speak to retaliate if another child has been allowed to push her off something, and I didn't think when the nursery told me to ask why another child was allowed to do that (or AIBU for thinking that?!), or where the staff were when this tussle was going on and why they didn't stop it? The children are all under 2 so obviously haven't got much idea of "sharing" or playing nicely.

Obviously they have to tell me but I'm at a loss what to do about it. I haven't been able to stop her biting me and I'm not there at nursery. Anyone else been through this and can offer any advice?

lauraloola Mon 13-Oct-08 20:13:31

I used to work at a nursery and we had 2 children who were biters.

If they bit a child we would sit them in a corner for a few minutes and explain why. We would then take them to say sorry to the child they bit. If they couldnt speak we used to explain that they needed to cuddle the child and that it was to say sorry for hurting them.

Im not sure if you are allowed to sit children in a corner now as this was about 10 years ago but it did work. After a few weeks the children stopped biting. Once of them was nearly 2 and he couldnt speak and the other was a lot younger.

It would be worth asking what the nursery staff do when your dd bites there and mimic it at home when she bites you.

SuperSillyus Tue 14-Oct-08 22:26:35

Ideally ignoring it is the best thing I think but obviously you can't ignore when someone is getting hurt. When my niece went through a stage of biting my son she was about the same age and eventually she stopped after it was totally ignored and she was just physically stopped from biting without any attention given to it.

But they have to deal with it at the nursery, you are not there so what can you do? I don't think you should feel bad, lots of children go through this.

ScottishMummy Tue 14-Oct-08 22:45:41

you must reinforce no biting,by firm tone of voice and clear message "mummy loves you but biting isn't nice".what di nursery do?be consistent with their approach

i suspect if you are not wholly committed to chastise against biting then your dd picks up on this

"well given the circumstances...." does sound like you are excusing the behaviour

consider the alternative story,your dd takes another child toy they got upset and tried to get dd off but dd wouldn't budge so they went for dd trying to bite her face.would you still think that was quite understandable?

your lo needs to learn to cope with tussles and demands (from herself and others) at nursery

biting isn't an acceptable coping strategy

catweazle Wed 15-Oct-08 17:36:46

No I'm not excusing the behaviour but I don't know what they want me to do. I'm not there. When I've been at Toddlers and there are tussles between toddlers the mums intervene. I'm not there at nursery and from what they told me the other day I was left wondering why no adults intervened. (and FWIW she has been bitten as well)

It has escalated. Today she has bitten another child twice, and apparently did so yesterday. What seemed to be coming across from the staff this evening was that it's my fault that she's biting, even though this time they were sitting with her when she did it. Having gone on in that vein for about 10 minutes they then said it's not just her and there are 5 little girls of a similar age all vying to be top dog.

When she bites me she's laughing. She is biting with intent at nursery. They say it's because she doesn't want to share the toys. She doesn't have to share at home so it hasn't ever arisen. She's been at nursery 8 months, and full time there 4 months, so I would have expected her to be used to sharing their toys by now. It's been many years since I had toddlers and never one in daycare.

The underlying threat seems to be that if she carries on they won't have her anymore. Then I'm stuffed. It's not as if I can send her off tomorrow after a stern lecture not to bite anyone hmm

ScottishMummy Wed 15-Oct-08 20:42:31

ask for 1:1 mtg with manager,
ask for a care plan to be drafted what to do if biting occurs.
all be consistent
keep a behavioural diary - what are her triggers
do any common themes set her off

you should be giving a firm lecture not to bite anyone

phone daily for progress
praise and reinforce her positives eg dont just acknowledge biting

have they actually said they will end her contract?

biting can be extinguished,many children will bite but not enduring

SuperSillyus Thu 16-Oct-08 07:41:30

Catweazle I don't like the sound of the nursery. Describing the babies as girls trying to be top dog hmm eh? I bet my bottom dollar that it is the staff who are competing to be top dog instead of concentrating on the children!!
and how can they be expected to share at that age?
At this nursery they have a problem with babies biting each other which they don't seem to know how to deal with.

I think they should be distracting the children and keeping them occupied with songs and games and stories surely? and when biting happens it's dealt with quickly with little fuss and in context and doesn't become an issue running the show.
And if they were professional they would just be letting you know the situation not blaming you. These children are still babies! (fume)

singingtree Thu 16-Oct-08 08:02:03

I've no advice but lots and lots of sympathy. DS is a bit older and bites, though he seems to be growing out of it. It really is horrible for you

SmugColditz Thu 16-Oct-08 08:04:58

This is the nursery'ss problem, you cannnot be in charge of her when you aren't there.

When they tell you "YOur DD has bitten someone" you need to say "Okay, well clearly this isn't acceptable behavior - what are you going to do about it?"

SuperSillyus Thu 16-Oct-08 08:09:35

And if they throw out all the children who do something naughty there won't be very many children left very soon! If my child was at a nursery where children were biting him I wouldn't be reassured to hear that they would be asking the 'biting children' to leave, I would want to know that all the children were accepted and that the nursery knows how to deal with any difficult behaviour.

catweazle Thu 16-Oct-08 22:41:19

Thanks for these responses. I was really upset last night. DD didn't seem too well when we got home (she slept from 4.30- 8.30pm and then 11pm-7am) and she got in the bath with me at 9am and just didn't seem herself. I had one of those moments when you look at them and think what am I doing leaving you every day.

Today I arrived to pick her up and they were all sat listening to a story. She'd had a better day with "no incidents" they told me.

I did see that one of her "friends" has a huge bruise on the top of her nose and I assume that was the child she bit. I did feel guilty.

Thank for your support smile

catweazle Thu 16-Oct-08 22:41:54

9pm even blush

My DS is same age and has bitten at nursery three times. They have called me into the office each time with the 'serious' face, but apart from that they have dealt with it in a sensible manner. They know that it is a phase that he's going through, deal with it by giving a stern "NO!" and moving him away and then fussing over the injured party. He has left a bruise and the last time took off some skin shock. Now, he also bites me - usually when he is cross with me and overtired though. The most recent time he bit they were very clear that he was provoked - another child yanked a toy away from him, pushing on his face with the other hand to give themselves a bit of leverage hmm - so he bit down hard. They didn't seem to be as worried about that as it was a normal sort of reaction given the circumstances. The other times were also when toys were being taken from him.

As others have said, it sounds like your DD's nursery has a biting problem that goes beyond your DD, and it doesn't sound like they are dealing with it well. I hope you manage to sort it out.

blueberryfool Wed 26-Nov-08 12:35:31

I am so relived to here that its not just me. My son has been at nursery 3 days a week since 6 months old and started biting a few months ago when he won't share toys or gets angry. It stopped for a while but has started again and is getting worse and worse. I dread going to pick him up. They are clearly doing all the right things and trying to get him to srop but he just doesn't seem to get it and its very upsetting. Feel like such a bad parent sad

Susie1979 Wed 26-Nov-08 14:34:49

My son is 5 started reception in September and has just started biting, having NEVER done it before. I am at a loss with what to do with him. He was biten by another child at the start of the year, then more recently was biten by a friend and bit him back, and now has just been involved and biting another child. I feel the school are quite unsupportive saying "it's just one of those things" but this is so unlike him, I feel he is learning to be naughty at school - how do I deal with him at home?

blueberryfool Wed 26-Nov-08 15:23:18

Oh no, I was hoping that if my son got bitten he would stop but maybe not having read your post! Apparently he is always too quick and gets in there first. This is obviously a common problem but it doesn't stop you from feeling awful. The nursery told me that it was a common problem at first and didn't worry too much about it but now I think they are getting sick of him doing it (as am I!) now they are advising me to talk to their health visitor about it.....hmm

catweazle Wed 26-Nov-08 20:30:59

blueberry how old is your DS? My DD is still biting at nursery. Seems to be once or twice a week instead of every day but still happening.

blueberryfool Thu 27-Nov-08 16:36:33

catweazle. He is 2 in January.

He bit 5 times on Tuesday (one was in front of the childs parents) Great! Nothing yesterday. Leaving work soon to do the walk of shame to his nursery again....

stanandrach Tue 03-Jan-12 15:01:43

My daughter is in nursery and has regularly been bitten by the same child in her nursery setting. She is 2years old and the other child is 6 months older - a lack of communication skills on the part of the other child was blamed initially.
As the parent of a child who has been repeatedly bitten I have a huge amount of sympathy for the parent of any child who bites and have kept this in mind.
But there does come a point where the nursery and parents need to get a grip on the situation. I am considering moving my child, disrupting her routine and care as the nursery are unable to manage this situation to keep my child safe. I have been told that due to the Equal Opportunities Act the nursery cannot exclude a child, even when they have admitted they are not sure how to handle him........
I feel for parents with biters and would not wish it on anyone and I know it is a developmental stage but, in our case, it has been going on for over a year......difficult for all concerned

SootySweepandSue Tue 03-Jan-12 15:15:46

Sounds awful. We have a friend with a 16 mo DD who bites and we have stopped inviting her to meetups blush. She is not in nursery but bites when around children at other opportunities - others houses, playgroups etc. Only 1 lady and her DD continues to meet with her. When her DD was bitten most recently she reacted very strongly and gave the other girl a very stern telling off. It was louder and more forceful than the biting girls mum and it was effective for at least that afternoon.

I'm not sure of the answer but I do think that if my DD started to bite I would be very uncharacteristically harsh akin to the same reaction if she were to grab something hot or sharp. But I really have no answer...

I do think the nursery sound awful. Particularly the bit about 'top dogs'. I have never heard of children that age being described in those terms. They should have a formal plan of how to deal with biting if they are worth there salts. I hope you can get some progress.

tigersmummy Tue 03-Jan-12 22:13:03

I have sympathy for those parents whose children bite, it must be mortifying. However, my son is being bitten constantly by the same child at his nursery. There have been a handful of incidents last year, but just before Christmas the bite was so bad it almost broke the skin and is still visible 7 weeks later. The nursery has been wonderful in all other aspects since he started, but cannot say what they would do if it happened again, as they have not had anything like this happen before. Well, it has happened again, on the first day back after 10 day break. I am absolutely furious that he has been put in this position again.
I have sympathy with the nursery and the parents, however that sympathy is fast running out, when I am paying very good money for my son to have top quality care. His welfare, in my mind, is more important than the rights of the child who continues to bite. The child has also bitten other children within the nursery. I don't know whether this is a good thing - ie my son isn't the sole victim - or makes the whole situation worse.

Mishy1234 Wed 04-Jan-12 12:32:34

I have been on both sides of this situation, if only briefly.

DS1 was bitten when he was about 18 months, not badly but it did leave a mark. I was devastated and very angry, as you are tigersmummy. However, the staff acted promptly (hover over the 'biter' apparently) and it never happened again.

DS2 (then 18 months) bit another child in a tussle over a toy. I had to sign an accident form (to say I had been informed) as he had left a mark. I honestly thought I couldn't feel worse than when DS1 was bitten, but I did. The nursery staff were great and said they give a stern 'no biting' telling off and separate the biter for a few minutes (one of the staff sit with them). He hasn't done it since, although he has been on the receiving end on one occasion.

It is a passing phase, with some children taking longer to get over it than others. A good nursery will be on top of the situation. It is their responsibility to ensure they are watching the behaviour at all times in order to intervene before the biter takes action. A LOT of children go through it OP, you have my sympathy. I would ask for a meeting to discuss how the staff are dealing with it and to ensure that you are taking the same approach should it happen with you.

Weissbier Wed 04-Jan-12 21:45:01

I agree this is really common - don't feel bad, yourself. DD got bitten at nursery by their current resident biter and had a graphic ring of teethmarks on her cheek that briefly turned her into a nursery celebrity. But I think parents who react by saying "my child must be SAFE" or by making you do a walk of shame are 1) overreacting, a bite's not nice but not going to do them serious harm and 2) forgetting that in three months it may well be their child doing the biting. Of course, nursery shouldn't be making you do a walk of shame either, they should be aware you will be feeling awful and helping you feel better by acting pragmatically.

That said - biting, for any reason, is not on. In DD's case we all have the strong impression that the little boy doing the biting doesn't mean it badly, but he still gets the same stern telling-off, being made to apologize and being kept apart from the other children that he would get if he did mean it badly. He's got to learn, they all have to, and the telling-off of course is not just for his benefit, it's for the whole group. Of course you feel awful and parents of the bitten often don't help at all, but I would forget trying to find excuses and maybe even reasons (like "communication issues" or "oh well in that context he was provoked") and just get on with a plan of action with nursery to teach your DD that she is not to bite, point. It won't do her any harm to get told off for unacceptable behaviour, and it's no reflection on you.

I think it is right that a biting child cannot be asked to leave a nursery. They are all little children. We are adults, capable of teaching them not to bite, and watching them to make sure they don't catch too many victims while they are learning not to. That is our job.

peppajay Thu 05-Jan-12 18:04:13

I so feel for you my son used to be a serial hair puller so bad he was branded a bully and a thug. I tried everything I could to stop it but nothing worked in the end I had to seek professional help as he was a total nightmare HOWEVER this behaviour was reserved when for when he was out and about and he never ever pulled anyones hair at nursery. When the professional observed him she worked out he was doing it purely for attention coz of course everytime he did it he got a huge reaction usually from the mother of the child he got and this is what he was thriving on, me telling him off and making him apologize was just more attention, so she suggested completely ignoring which sounds shocking but it worked. I took him to a playground out of my area and he ran off to play and instead of following him like usual to intervene at any moment I ignored him he looked at me before he got this little girls hair as if to say look at what I am about to do and I hate to say it but I let him do it and I ignored it (I made a point of apologising to the childs grandmother and explaining and she was fine!!) and he has never ever done it since. He went to go for someone once about a week after this incident but saw he wasnt going to get any attention so didnt do it and I can now say he hasnt done it for about 6 months.

However I do think ignoring the way I did it has to be done very carefully and as a last resort and I did it under the advice of a professional with their full support. Good luck and just remember kids are kids and they all have something they do that is classed as bad behaviour at some point!!

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