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Biting at Nursery

(25 Posts)
working9while5 Thu 23-Jun-11 20:18:50

Ds is 18 months old.

He bit a child at nursery about a month ago and bit the same one today sad.

I am happy for nursery to put him in time out etc but it struck me today that again, apparently this behaviour happened "out of the blue". They told it as if he was some sort of Damien Omen type child. Apparently he just raced across the room and bit and hit this child for "no reason", "even though he knows she's smaller than him".

I take ds to a group in the library, meet with other mums and kids and go to Stay and Play. I've never seen him be at all aggressive and, to be honest, I don't believe that children (or any of us) behave in a particular way for "no reason" as nursery are saying. I know they can be bundles of rage at this age but I don't think 18 month olds can be malicious and he shows no signs of being Baby Evil elsewhere so I am a bit hmm.

I reckon that he's either:
- hungry
- tired
- teething
- frustrated
- attention seeking
- trying to communicate
- somehow trying to control a situation

Or maybe some combination of these.

I know it's a phase that they go through and I feel terrible for this poor little girl who apparently he "really likes" apart from when he's biting her but AIBU to wonder what's going on in there from the way nursery tell it?

They never tell me anything good about him or any story that indicates they even have a clue about what he does all day. They'll list off the activities they've done in the area e.g. "he's done baking etc" but I never hear anything about him apart from what's written in the book about food and nappies unless it's about him "being a monkey". It's very impersonal. It just strikes me that he probably doesn't get a hell of a lot of attention as he's one of the bigger ones in the group with younger babies and I am worried that he will quickly cotton onto the fact he gets some attention and picked up taken to time out etc and then "talked to" if he does something negative. It's a worry I've had about a nursery set up really.. his keyworker has changed four times in six months! I would have preferred a childminder but none free to do my hours in my area/within commuting distance.

On the other hand, I don't want to be wildly reactive because I know most parents will be on one end or the other of this at some stage and probably both and he is my first, so I am wary of making a fuss. Yet it doesn't feel right either, and I don't think it's just because I think he's an angel who can do no wrong. I think it's just highlighted for me concerns I've been trying to ignore because I don't want to uproot him as I know that's bad for babies too.

Well? Am I just experiencing pfbitis and raising a Monster Child? Or should I have a chat with the nursery about my concerns? Or start looking elsewhere?

JamieAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 20:33:57

I think you've got an excellent handle on this. It would be totally my understanding. I don't even like the term "aggressive" when applied to pre-schoolers as, really their biting behaviour can be triggered by any number of things -in my DS2 s case I think it started when he was teething and then maintained by a nice screechy reaction from me blush, and it tended to occur in situations where there were lots of children and he became over-excited, like soft play, so I'd have to ration this and leave at the first signs of trouble.

What I'd like to hear from a nursery is that they understand biting is normal and they seek to prevent it by understanding the triggers, as far as possible. That they see it as a problem behaviour he has, in the midst of seeing his good points. Time out is not appropriate for an 18month old IMO. I don't necessarily think the nursery is causing the biting, but in the context of your other concerns I might be tempted to look around.

JamieAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 20:35:28

DS2 used to also bite people he really liked. It was an extremely cack-handed way of making social contact, sometimes. He is 8 now and hasn't bitten since he was about 2

JamieAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 20:36:31

"even though he knows she's smaller than him".

This statement shows a worrying willingness to ascribe adult reasoning to a very small toddler

sittinginthesun Thu 23-Jun-11 20:38:49

Definitely talk to the nursery, and definitely look around for other childcare options. I really think you have to go on instinct with this - the nursery we use feels warm, and caring and completely approachable. I always felt that my boys were loved by the staff, and they always told me sweet little things about them.

Are there other nurseries nearby, or can you look again for a childminder?

working9while5 Thu 23-Jun-11 20:43:24

No, I definitely don't think it's causing it per se but I think it could really escalate it with the attitude. And I have had this niggle that they don't really seem to.. well.. have any fondness for him for a while but dismissed it as me being a first time over-anxious mother and telling myself that I just have to get a grip and realise they won't love him as I do (which of course they won't). But I do hear other mums say they feel that their nursery worker's really like their kids and I don't really feel this from them at all. Dh thinks I am being mad because he doesn't cry going in there and doesn't seem upset and is fed and kept relatively clean and comfortable and safe, and he thinks all the rest of it you just can't expect from strangers sad.

I agree they are painting him as a naughty child when he is only 18 months old and this is his second incident, not his 50th!

joannita Thu 23-Jun-11 20:44:09

My 18 month old bites me and dh when he gets overexcited and in a way it makes sense that he bites a little girl he likes. Maybe it's a toddler type way of getting her attention, let alone the attention of the staff.

I think you get a vibe from a place and if you have a bad feeling about this nursery, maybe it's not right for you. I'm not suggesting your child has a bad time there but you need to feel like the people who care for your child are interested in him as an individual and know his personality well enough to understand why he might have done something eg he was overtired that day etc. If you don't like their attitude to your child that's probably something that's going to keep bugging you. Whether it's enough to make you want to change, only you can decide, but I don't think you are being unreasonable to show concern if they never say anything positive. It might be worth talking to the management and saying it would be really nice to hear some positive comments sometimes. I'm sure other parents feel the same.

catgirl1976 Thu 23-Jun-11 20:44:47

My sister went through a biting phase at about 2. My mum tried all the sensible stuff. It didnt work - so she bit my sister.

It worked but I think might not be allow these days smile

bubblecoral Thu 23-Jun-11 20:55:04

I would think about other childcare options in your situation.

If it doesn't feel right, then it probably isn't, but I'm a big believer in following instinct.

I work in a nursery, and one of the things I love most about my job is getting to tell parents about the cute/clever/exciting things that their child has done that day. It's fun to tell proud parents how wonderful their children are, especially as I get the honour of being trusted with the most precious thing in their lives. It just comes naturally if you have an affection for small children. If the staff at your nursery don't do this at all, I don't think I'd want them to care for my baby.

working9while5 Thu 23-Jun-11 20:59:39

That's what I feel too bubblecoral. I also work with kids and as you'll know we spend our breaks just chatting away about all the great things they do and get so much enjoyment out of it. Dh picks him up and drops him off so for a while I just thought it was because he wasn't communicating with them/responding so I came home early for a few weeks to try to make the effort but I'm not happy.

So back to the drawing board I guess! I just want what we all want for our kids: for him to be happy and feel that people have genuine affection and fondness for him.

LaWeasel Thu 23-Jun-11 21:07:08

I am very surprised that they have written anything negative in his contact book.

I guess you know when you work with kids that even when they've actually been really bloomin' difficult - and quite often are! It's the nice sweet things about them that stand out.

In your position I would not be comfortable with the nurseries attitude to my child (and maybe kids in general?!)

working9while5 Thu 23-Jun-11 21:08:33

No, not in his contact book.. I picked him up today. Usually do about 3-4 times a month recently a lot more.

Contact book is nappies and food like it is for most I'm sure!

LaWeasel Thu 23-Jun-11 21:13:07

Oh I see, hmm. Still think it's a bit odd. Though it's hard to say why!

GreenEyesandHam Thu 23-Jun-11 21:21:26

Make no bones, my 3yo IS a little monster- we've had the biting, hitting etc at nursery before plus more. He has no malice in him whatsoever, he tends to be worse with his 'friends'.

Despite it all, I've never got the impression that the staff don't like him, in fact we've had great comfort from the fact that they do seem to love him. He can be a lovely, caring funny little boy, and they know him inside out.

I think I'd be feeling the same way as you on your situation.

cat64 Thu 23-Jun-11 21:27:35

Message withdrawn

thelittlestkiwi Thu 23-Jun-11 21:31:17

My DD has been biting for quite a while. The first time she did it the worker who told me made me feel terrible. She suggested it was cos DD is a only child. But since then the rest have been great about it and they obviously care about her.

I wonder if it's the change of case worker that is the problem. Is it worth talking to the manager about this? I suspect it may take a while to get a place somewhere else anyway so you may as well try and make the best of this place in the meantime. DD has just changed classes and I've found that after each move it's taken a while for me to build up a relationship with the people looking after her.

Good luck.

bubblecoral Thu 23-Jun-11 21:31:49

Do you think you have any other childcare options working?

MrsBuntyisRatherGrumpy Thu 23-Jun-11 21:33:28

I would go along with others suggestions that it may be worth looking at other childcare options. You're little boy is only 18mths you say? He is a baby, and the nursery should have a better understanding of children that age and that it is not malicious behaviour. It sounds like they want an easy life and to put the onus on you, which is obviously vastly unfair as you are not there to witness or deal with the situation. I had a similar experience with my eldest (now 10 and only using his teeth for eating his dinner!) and in retrospect I wish I'd moved him sooner than I eventually did.

working9while5 Thu 23-Jun-11 21:42:41

Not at the moment, bubblecoral. I spent literally ten months trying to track down anything in my area during mat leave and actually where he is isn't even that geographically convenient.

Cat64, I know what you're saying but I don't believe that kids do it without some sort of reason e.g. even if this is something not directly observable e.g hunger/tiredness/teething.. and the adults who are with a child all the time, if they can't see the reason, should know a child well enough to be able to give a stab at guessing one or at least be able to say that it's not like them. Maybe the kid you saw wanted to get a reaction/attention etc?

MrsBunty - they actually asked if he ever hit younger children at home/in groups and if we let him. Yes, baby. Wallop that child, there's a good boy. hmm

Slobberedupon Thu 23-Jun-11 21:51:36

My DS is 13 months and at a childminders where the main other child (20 mths) is going through a biting stage. While it's not nice for your LO to be on the receiving end, as I know that it's a develomental stage for some kids and that this kid is really lovely then we're being understanding about it. Our childminder is working on it proactively with both sets of parents to try and stop it in a positive manner.

I think the others are right that it's not so much that he's biting, as it can be very normal but it's how well you feel the nursery are handling it. As it's so common, would personally be surprised that the nursery doesn't have policies that they can take you though in how they're going to help him and you. It can be dealt with in a sensitive way where the message is given that it's not acceptable but not where they start being rewarded with too much attention for the behaviour.

I would go with your gut feeling on this - if they are not looking after your LO in the way that you would like him to be parented then it might be best to move him on to another nursery if you can. If you don't want to move them then I think that you should have a chat with the manager of the nursery.

Best of luck with this!

EthelredOnAGoodDay Thu 23-Jun-11 21:58:29

MY DD has been the 'victim' of biting twice at nursery and to be honest, i came out of the meeting with the nursery manager feeling like the biter was the real victim! grin That is to say that i think with toddlers it's one of those things and the biter is not being 'naughty'. Basically, they told me in great detail about how it was almost always, with children of that age, because of frustration and that perhaps the biter needed more stimulation, or more age appropriate toys. Also she said there had been a slight slip in staff training and in having key senior nursery nurses in place in each room and that she was working very hard to ensure all NNs were fully trained to look out for and recognise potential signs that a child might bite, or hit i suppose. They certainly weren't in any way accusatory or cross about it.

It sounds to me as if you should be speaking to a senior member of staff there and find out what their plan is for supporting your child. As bubblecoral said, the nursery nurses i have come across have a real fondess for the LOs in the whole nursery, not just their room, you can just tell. But the staff turnover is pretty low at DDs nursery, so i think that helps. The way they are reacting to your DS is not helpful or, by the sounds of it, very professional.

breatheslowly Thu 23-Jun-11 22:32:29

I would be really concerned by your sensation that the staff don't like your DS and don't have nice things to say about him (it sounds like they prefer passive children). My DD is at a nursery where I get a similar level of information re food, nappies and sleep in writing. But when I collect her I get told lots of lovely things about her day, very specifically about her and often a number of members of staff chip in to the conversation and engage her in it too. They really exude warmth and a sensation of liking my DD. My DD is probably as likeable as the next baby, but in a nursery the staff are the adults and it is up to them to make the effort to "like" every child in their care and express it both to you and to your child. If they aren't expressing it to you, then they probably are not coming across as terribly warm to your DS and I would be very concerned about this. This is very much an issue with their workplace culture and not a reflection on your DS. The changes in keyworker also indicate a problem with the workplace culture. It sounds like they have high staff turnover, which indicates that it isn't a happy place to work.

Sorry that this sounds really negative, but perhaps you could attempt to tackle them on some of it, but look around for alternatives. As he is getting close to 2 you may find that he could be fitted into a different setting quite easily - either when a childminder has a space for an over 2 or a nursery that only starts at 2.

Assailant Thu 23-Jun-11 22:53:02

Might a long of his behaviour and any relevant factors related to biting or attempted bites perhaps help? You could do it at home and also ask nursery to do that. What happened immediately before, what were the observable consequences of the bite, eg more attention etc

18 months is too young to attribute adult motivation. Less attention the better. Intercept or remove from bitten child, firmly say "no biting" and try to figure out what caused it in order to avoid it in the future. That means avoid it by the adults controlling the situations/environment to ensure it doesn't happen.

JamieAgain Thu 23-Jun-11 22:54:52

I agree with breatheslowly. I have also worked in a playgroup and would always strive to see the very best in all children and convey that to their parents

WishIWasRimaHorton Thu 23-Jun-11 22:57:03

i had exactly the same situation with my DS, altho he was about 20-odd months when it started. same issue with nursery saying he did it 'out of the blue', 'unprovoked' and completely randomly. i asked them to keep a behaviour diary so we could see triggers, such as was he hungry / tired / had an activity just changed and he didn't cope with the transition. they couldn't do this. in the end, it got so bad, and i could tell that they really didn't like him, so i took him out, took unpaid leave for 4 weeks and found another nursery.

they were fab. he bit one there, about 4 weeks after he started, and that was because someone took a toy off him (so 'provoked' although obv not justified).

so OP - i would find another setting. PDQ...

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