Nursery 'excluding' a 17 month old for biting? WWYD?

(35 Posts)
pinkgirlythoughts Thu 08-Nov-12 19:39:49

We've had a bit of an issue with my son, aged 17 months, biting other children at nursery, which started a few weeks ago, then seemed to blow over. Although he's had a phase of biting at home in the past, he hasn't done it at home since he's started doing it at nursery. DP and I (and my sister, who is a nursery nurse) have never felt that nursery have handled the issue particularly well, phoning both DP and I whilst at work on the first occasion it happened, and immediately talking about what DP and I would do to resolve the situation, rather than what they were doing about. The nursery manager even mentioned having had to exclude a child in the past for biting.
Anyway, last week we were away on holiday, and since he's been back at nursery, he's apparently started biting again. Yesterday DP received another phone call at work to tell him about it, and today, less than two hours after I'd dropped DS off for the day, DP received a phone call saying he'd 'gone for' 5 children, and wasn't welcome in nursery tomorrow because of it.
Does that seem like an appropriate 'punishment' for a 17 month old? To me it seems like a total overreaction for a child who has no concept of what being 'excluded' (the nursery manager's word- he even mentioned 'not wanting to have to expel him) actually means, and by tomorrow won't even remember the fact that he bit someone, but maybe I'm just being precious? What would you ladies do in my situation?

mungojerrie Wed 14-Nov-12 13:51:05

'gone for' is a horrible phrase.

When our DD went through a spell of biting - nursery were fab. They reassured me how it was developmental, that it would reduce as her vocab grew (which it did) and put in place what they call an 'A B C' plan - Action (what was happening prior to Behaviour and what the Consequence was) It soon stopped.

They should not be excluded your son for this. They need to be able to manage his behaviour in their setting. I would not be happy with their actions to be honest.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Tue 13-Nov-12 07:12:38

Wiser I think by unprovoked they simply mean that your GS wasn't hit, scratched, had a toy snatched first etc. what other word do you think they could use to convey this? Attack sounds a strong word, perhaps incident would have been better.

They have to do incident forms for their records, it's common practice.

If it happened more than once in a day, they do need to say so and it is a worse situation - that's an objective thing to say.

If they are a good nursery, they will not be thinking of him as a bad boy - it sounds like they are trying to work together with your DD. it's a good idea though for you to go in with her as it must be so hard for her to separate her emotional reaction from listening to what they nursery is actually trying to agree with her, a second pair If ears would be really helpful. Good luck with it.

Wiserimnotsure Tue 13-Nov-12 02:40:29

Hi I would like some opinions about comments made by nursery staff regarding recent biting behaviour of my 16m grandson. My daughter is a young mum and is really distraught over the whole thing. I'm trying to advise her and have explained all about learned behaviours etc as she had been thinking of biting him back herself - I am praying my advice so far has sunk in. The nursery staff however appear to be making this little innocent toddler to be some kind of bad boy which isn't helping. It was explained to my daughter that her 16 m had carried out an unprovoked attack on another toddler by biting them
, causing a billed to the face and which an incident form had to be completed. This has happened on around 4 occasions, first started just 2 to 3 weeks ago, but they are making out it is getting worse as in the last time it was more than one child that day he attacked. They suggest to my daughter to start keeping diary of times at home when he will bite. Today he bit me, I told my daughter how I dealt with it, in that immediately I changed my tone with him letting him know I was not happy and that what he done was wrong. He then looked at me shocked, fearful, lip trembling, to which I simply lessened the sternness in my voice but continued to say more gently "you don't do that, that's not nice to bite", still trying to show him love . He never did it again for rest of day and was an absolute angel. My question really though, apart from do you think I did the right thing is do you think the nursery staff are tackling this well by the way they are communicating the problem. Personally I think using words like unprovoked attack is extremely harsh, but wanted other opinions before I actually take this any further and suggest to my daughter for us both to go along to the nursery and question them . Many thanks for reading this. From a gran who feels absolutely heart broken at the thought of the little one being perceived as just bad and not nice boy

Nubbin Fri 09-Nov-12 14:08:35

I knew the parents - they ended up using my old childminder. He wasn't a 'naughty' or unpleasant child just couldn't be trusted at that age in a group setting unless there was someone on hand who could intervene before it happened every single time. Which the childminder did and problem was sorted in a couple of months.

Nubbin: do you know the child's parents? Because if it wasn't them who told you, then the nursery have told you far too much about another child.

To be honest, it sounds like the nursery is a bit crap more than anything else. Biting is something they should know how to deal with.

DS1 was forced to leave a nursery at around 2 because of biting. It was the nursery being crap. The cause of the biting was that the staff didn't like some of the boys and those boys started to act up (and bite, etc) because they were being treated badly by the staff. The staff then decided they were 'right' and the 3 boys were 'bad kids'. If I'd know then what I know now, I'd've have made a serious complaint to the Care Commission about it.

I changed him to a wonderful childminder, and then he went to nursery at 3, and there was never another biting incident again. The childminder said she couldn't understand what the nursery's problem was at all. DS1's behaviour was absolutely fine in a situation where he was listened to, cared for and felt valued. So, I guess the nursery did me a favour by 'excluding' him really.

Well, actually there was one memorable incident in which he was bitten. Apparently the staff in the second nursery put on the music from the lion king and the kids all started crawling around being lions and hyenas. One of the kids got a bit carried away in character as a hyena and bit DS1 on the bottom (and left teeth marks).

Nubbin Fri 09-Nov-12 13:59:10

Think they jumped the gun (and speaking as DM of a bitten rather than biter). At our nursery (private) a boy (approx 20 months) was consistently biting. He bit my dd 3x in one week (twice on the face) and hard enough to leave bruises. She was asleep for one so not retaliation. We were fine to start with (normal development could easily have been other way round). When it continued we got a bit more annoyed: the nursery tried time out, then 24 hour watch (i.e. he had to be with a nursery nurse at all times), then a play therapist (I think) before telling the parents that he wasn't suited for group care at that point and he needed one on one care until he was past that stage. Whole thing lasted about 6 weeks before nursery decided they tried everything and couldn't take the risk in group care. By this point dd was scared of boys coming near her as she assumed they would bite (luckily she was coming up to the age to go into the next room and they moved her up early).

Karoleann Fri 09-Nov-12 13:49:22

I would also be complaining to OFSTED, how can a 17 month old be able to comprehend is actions. Most children go through the hiting/biting/kicking stage at some point and nursery should be able to deal with it.
Incidentally, two of my children only bit when they had a tooth coming (as it must have felt nice on their gum). Maybe some teething powder before nursery would be a good idea?

dribbleface Fri 09-Nov-12 11:40:50

It is utterly ridiculous of the nursery (and I speak as a nursery manager), they should be able to deal with this behaviour which is normal for toddlers. They should, in my opinion, be carefully logging all bites/attempted bites to see if there is a pattern, assigning your DS a shadow staff member to intervene quickly (this will not always stop a bite but helps limit and deal with them), working with you and informing you of how they are dealing with it at nursery.

I would be looking for another nursery and possibly reporting to Ofsted (this is standard stuff and exclusion is not the answer in your case)

Please do not think your DS is a monster, he's a typical toddler, who unfortunately is not being 'managed effectively by the nursery in terms of behaviour.

DuelingFanjo Fri 09-Nov-12 11:08:01

When my son was about 20 months all the parents were sent a letter explaining that biting is a normal developmental issue in toddlers and sometimes our children may bite or get bitten. They said that if it happened the parent of the biter would be informed but the bitten child's parents would not be told who the biter was. Their method was to reinforce the idea that biting is not acceptable by telling no and removing the child who had bitten to another part of the room to do something else. It is all very gentle.

I think you are right to be upset with the way they have handled it and it may be an idea to ask them what their strategy is for dealing with a child who bites.

maybe show them something like this which says

"We will always inform the parents of the child that has bitten and explore
with them their strategy for dealing with such incidents if they occur at
home or elsewhere (If their strategy was a direct contradiction of our
strategy, e.g. Parent biting the child back, we would explain why we thought
this was an inappropriate response.)"

Mandy21 Fri 09-Nov-12 11:01:44

I'm on the other side of the fence I'm afraid - if I was sending my child to nursery where the same child was biting - over quite a long period (you mentioned weeks in your post) and that even when staff were in the room with him and in a 2 hour period he'd tried to bite 5 other children, I'd see that as a real risk. I don't take it from your post that its a punishment for your child, its a way of protecting the other children in the nursery. With the best will in the world, he can't be watched every second of every minute which means there is a risk to the other children. Yes, I think its down to the nursery in conjunction with you as parents, to sort it out, and it doesn't sound as if thats been done properly, but I suppose the alternative is to have a nursery nurse with him constantly (not sure you can expect this), have him playing on his own until this 'phase' blows over (not sure you'd want that) or have him at home until you can sort out why he's doing it.

Fizzypop001 Fri 09-Nov-12 00:24:54

Can't believe the nursery let your dd bite 5 kids where they not watching seems to me they are doing other things rather then looking after the kids I would find another nursery that will be happy to support you and your family it's the nurseries fault that your dd was allowed to bite 5 kids unbelievable they should have stopped him my dd been at nursery for 1 year and has only been bitten once and they are lovely but what you describe is out of order and are very unsupportive Please find another nursery their are others out there that will help you

Yika Thu 08-Nov-12 21:04:24

Gosh quite shocked to hear this. Aty nursery we were told at some point 'this is the age at which children may bite, this is how we will deal with it'. Can't remember the details except that the name of the biter would never be revealed to any bitee's parents. I never encountered a biting incident but I liked their approach and it certainly did not include exclusion, I find that simply incredible.

Viviennemary Thu 08-Nov-12 20:57:02

I didn't mean to sound judgey. And wasn't blaming the child at the age of 17 months. But I think these days nurseries do have to be extra careful with recording 'incidents' and so on. And dealing with any complaints from parents if their child is bitten.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 08-Nov-12 20:34:57

Vivienne my child wasn't one of the biters and I was very happy with how the nursery handled it.

What if DS starts to realise mum or dad collects him early if he bites and it makes it worse?

TiggyD Thu 08-Nov-12 20:22:16

Exclusion is a last option when other parents are threatening to remove their children.

The nursery needs to look at what happens before the behaviour. What causes it. Ask them if they've kept any records. Maybe he bites at certain times of the day, possibly when tired? Is it certain children? Is it always a sharing issue? etc.

What happens during the behaviour. Is he monitored when near other children or when they think there is liable to be a problem?

After the behaviour. Are there negative consequences for his actions that he can understand?

They need to observe and put some kind of plan into action for a couple of weeks and see what happens. But basically, the nursery seems shit and you should look for a good one.

procrastinor Thu 08-Nov-12 20:20:52

Well that's just ridiculous. Exclusion is to allow a child to realise the brevity of a situation. How on earth is a 17 mo expected to do that?! I was mortified when my DS bit my CM's son (there was a three month age gap between them - her son being older than mine). She took it in her stride and worked with me in tackling it (telling him off when he moved forward to bite, putting him down and walking away). It happened on occasion but we both realised that this is just something that will happen - on one occasion we realised they had matching bite marks on their shoulders! it petered out and at 22 months he hasn't bitten in ages.

Viviennemary Thu 08-Nov-12 20:20:30

It is difficult for you. However, I would not want to send my children to a nursery where they were in danger of being bitten. If it was a one off then OK these things happen. But you would think the nursery staff would be trained to cope with this. Would he not be better at another nursery because he might be happier there. I don't think exclusion can be looked at in any way as a punishment. But parents could create a dreadful fuss if their child is bitten.

RyleDup Thu 08-Nov-12 20:17:01

Ermm, are you paying for the days your child is excluded?

I would look for another nursery. They don't sound as though they are dealing with things very well.

EugenesAxe Thu 08-Nov-12 20:13:26

I agree that the nursery sounds crap... everything you and others have said about lack of understanding at 17m seems right.

It seems to me that it's an attention thing (playing up again straight after a lot of M&D time), although I doubt you could do anything about it... playing lots with him when you are together may make his indignation at being left in nursery worse.

Nursery need to separate him without drama IMO, so he gets bored of doing it. They also need to ensure he's well stimulated.

TempusFuckit Thu 08-Nov-12 20:12:52

Christ, if they exclude every child who bites they'll lose half their customers very quickly.

No child expert here, but my DS went through two very brief biting phases. The nursery discussed how they were handling it, gave me a sheet detailing age appropriate ways of handling it at home then monitored him closely until it stopped. He's also been badly scratched by other kids, and I'd be horrified if they had been excluded - this kind of thing just happens.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Thu 08-Nov-12 20:04:46

When my nursery had a biting issue, they worked with the affected parents, got an educational consultant in to sign off their plan, kept all parents updated(without naming the biter of course) and stressed that as long as they felt parents were working with them, exclusion would be a last resort.

Exclusion isn't meant as punishment just to protect other children but it is a really bad first line strategy. There may be some research on best policies available on the Internet- worth a google?

Have you got a copy of your nursery's policies?

BackforGood Thu 08-Nov-12 20:04:33

Sounds like a terrible Nursery, so I would certainly start looking around for better options. All Nurseries look after children who go through phases of biting. There are all sorts of things you can do to try and work through it, but excluding the child isn't one of them! Ask them to explain how that is helping to modify his behaviour ?
Ask them if they have spoken to their Area SENCO / Inclusion Officer / Local Authority Support Teams, and gone through the proper procedures for working with a child who needs a bit of extra support at this stage of his development.

DialMforMummy Thu 08-Nov-12 19:57:24

Wow, this is truly pointless and I might add that the nursery is unsupportive of you and your DC.
My DS is a bit of a biter and has bitten several times at nursery. When this happens, he is "punished" (put in a naughty corner and told off). At home, when this happens, we are very strict and do the same as nursery does. Everytime, I am told DS has bitten someone, I am mortified, but what else can I do?
Toddlers biting, slapping, pinching etc... are common and I'd expect professionals to have a consistent approach to dealing with this problem. Equally, I don't see the point of calling you at work to tell you that your DS has bitten someone. What are you meant to do drop everything and get him? hmm
I'd look for another nursery, one that is not shy with dealing with problems that are inherent to the children's age group.
Seriously, excluding a child for biting... angry Do they think it is going to solve the issue?

SamSmalaidh Thu 08-Nov-12 19:55:12

It sounds like the nursery are either unwilling or unable to deal with his behaviour, so I would look elsewhere.

Ideally, they need to assign 1:1 support to him while they work out what triggers the biting and to protect other children. If they are running on minimum staff then they probably can't do this.

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