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Please help me understand biting triggers

(18 Posts)
Justguessing Thu 02-May-13 05:45:49

My 2.3 yo dd is a biter. Last year she went through a phase of biting both us and children in her nursery regularly (say every other day over a 2-3 week period). This was associated with a lot of new teeth coming through and she would bite following a scuffle over a toy.

She's in nursery three days a week and we worked with them over this period to address the biting (e.g. looking for triggers, responding in the same way). The biting eventually stopped, until recently.

She has bitten four times in the past three months at nursery, two of which have been in the last two weeks. Apparently the most recent bites have happened when she has been playing by herself and another child has interrupted her (but not tried to remove her toy, just come over to where she's been playing). With the obvious exception of the biting, I'm told that she engages well in all the activities and plays happily with the other children.

In the past, we've told her to use her words and go to a member of staff if another child tries to takes a toy off her, using the book 'teeth are not for biting' to back this up. But as the latest incidents aren't associated with a toy, I'm not sure what the trigger is or how best to handle it. Her nursery respond by telling her that biting is bad and get her to apologise to the other child. She's not biting at home but if she pushes or tries to hit either dh or I (no more than once a week) we remove her from the situation and don't engage with her for a minute or so.

Dd is lovely (most of the time!) but I now dread the nursery run and it feels like a walk of shame. Is there anything else I can be doing?

Apologies for such a long post, it's difficult to talk about biting in real life without feeling that you're being judged as a parent.

Airfryer Thu 02-May-13 20:17:54

Im watching this one with interest.

My ds, 16mths, is a biter/scratcher/nipper. Tends to do it more at nursery than at home. It's awful. Had first meeting with nursery yesterday. He's teething at the minute so don't know if it's got something todo with that.

Will keep an eye on this post!

PoppyWearer Thu 02-May-13 20:24:45

My DS's biting (currently 20mo) is all about teething. (He's my DC2)

The good news about teething is that it finishes eventually!

Do you think she's teething?

Justguessing Thu 02-May-13 21:26:21

Thanks for your replies.

I hope it is teething and it does pass soon. I think she's only got the back molars to go. I'll try to have a look in her mouth in morning, fingers crossed she's in a cooperative mood!

Misty9 Thu 02-May-13 21:37:50

Ds is a biter, he's 19mo and has been doing it for the last couple months. Definitely worse when he's teething, and we've got the book too smile

One thing, I'd maybe ask the nursery to rephrase 'biting is bad' as this could make your dd feel like she is bad for doing it...when she is only expressing herself (albeit not in a nice way). Maybe ask them to say what the book says? Although I have to smother a giggle when I hear dh rote say "teeth are not for biting, ouch biting hurts" grin

Have there been any changes at nursery? Lots of new children? Environment change? Could be teething, or combination of that and something that's made her a bit insecure? Is she biting at home? I know what you mean about shame; I have to tail ds when he plays as I can't leave him alone for 10secs.

We've just ordered "hands are not for hitting" ... Sigh.

Misty9 Thu 02-May-13 21:39:01

I meant when he plays with other children... I can leave him for ages when he's on his own!

Justguessing Fri 03-May-13 20:48:23

It's taken all day but dd finally let me look in her mouth tonight and no sign of the molars. I guess that doesn't mean they're not coming though.

I'm definitely going to try and speak to her key worker at nursery about their response to the biting. I know another parent has questioned their response recently. Misty, there's a new manager but nothing different in her room as far as I'm aware other than improved meals and snacks! It is massive though, there's over 20 kids in her room most days. Maybe she just needs her own space sometimes and bites when that's interrupted.

Thanks again for all your replies.

CheeseStrawWars Fri 03-May-13 20:51:03

Does it happen at a particular time of day? DS used to bite at this age, usually when he was tired. Possibly as it took more concentration to express himself verbally at that stage and when he was tired biting took less effort? Never really got to the bottom of it but it did pass.

Justguessing Fri 03-May-13 21:11:20

How old was he when he stopped biting cheesestraws? The last time she was biting, it was only ever in the morning, generally between 9 and 10, and when she was playing with baby dolls (or wanted to). The latest phase seems more random though, the only common factor is that she's been interrupted from whatever she's been doing.

CheeseStrawWars Sat 04-May-13 11:44:05

It lasted about 2 months, but felt like longer! He was about 2.5, I think. He's 2.7 now and absolutely fine. He screams if his toy gets snatched but no physical retaliation at all. Being consistent in response and waiting til they grow out of it is all you can do, I think.

Does she have her own baby doll at home, which is her special doll and only for her to play with? My DC have one "special toy" each, which they don't have to share with anyone if they don't want to. The rest of the toys they have to share, but not their special one. (We usually put the "special toy" out of the way if we have guests over - the special toys are their bears that go to bed with them.)

Gooders79 Sat 04-May-13 18:32:07

My Ds has consistently bitten since about 8 mo, now 20mo it happens less frequently but still when frustrated, overtired, teething or not getting own way it can be a problem. I watch him like a hawk when we are out, as do close friends and try and watch for trigger signs, sometimes though it just comes from nowhere. We are giving a firm no and 1 minute timeout for all biting incidents but it seems to be having very limited carryover. I do really sympathise though, parents of the bitten can be vicious and feel they have free reign to comment on your parenting too which can be very challenging too

Justguessing Sat 04-May-13 20:17:33

Dd is our only child, so probably goes at least some way in explaining why she's a bit rubbish when it comes to sharing stuff. We did get her a baby and buggy during the last biting phase when that was identified as a problem area at nursery. We do hide it when we have other children in the house though.

I know a few people that have moved their kids because of a biter at nursery, I'd feel even worse if I knew that dd had led to a child leaving. She has also been bitten a few times, apparently the staff have never seen a parent look so relieved when told their child has been bitten. I live in fear of incident forms!

Gooders79 Sun 05-May-13 08:02:37

I feel your pain, our nursery refer to them as incidents, I always dread an incident...

BoffinMum Sun 05-May-13 08:05:51

I think she may have issues with the whole nursery thing and possibly gets a bit stressed at the hubbub of the othe children. Are there other childcare options?

Justguessing Sun 05-May-13 20:58:35

Were you thinking that a childminder might be better for her boffinmum? I do worry about the size of her nursery (it wasn't our first choice), but I'm not sure that its as black and white as saying she's stressed. Dd does seem happy there overall and literally squeals with excitement as we arrive. I do think she needs more quiet time than she's getting though.

All your comments are helping me to think more rationally about it.

BoffinMum Mon 06-May-13 00:33:14

I did wonder. Children have different needs at different times and nurseries are such busy places.

5318008 Mon 06-May-13 13:48:31

biting often lessens/disappears as the child's language skills increase ime

mucho sympathy

Justguessing Mon 06-May-13 20:29:01

I'm more optimistic that the latest biting phase might be teething after all. Still no sign of the molars, but she's been rubbing the side of her face and saying that she's sore. I feel a little uneasy about how happy that makes me...

Based on your advice so far, I'm hoping that her molars arrive soon and her speech develops at a rate unknown to toddlerkind!

As for the childcare, being dependent on one person fills me with fear but I'm going to take a look at a tiny nursery this week so I've at least got something to compare her huge chain nursery with.

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