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Advice please on how to deal friends child who keeps biting mine

(30 Posts)
SuperDuperTrooper Sun 16-Feb-14 20:35:56

Over the last couple of years I've made a friend who has a DD one month younger than my 2.2 year old DS. We see each other at least once a week - used to see each other a bit more but I've stopped making so many plans with them. Her DD has been going through a biting stage for quite a number of months now and no end in sight.

For example, this little girl is very possessive of her own toys and bites and pinches to get them off other children. At her 2nd birthday party at her house she made every single child there cry by either biting them or pinching their face because they had one of her toys. At most groups we go to together she nearly always physically goes for another child. All her mum does is, rather too gently in my opinion, say "No (DDs name), that's not nice". And that's it!!! I personally feel this is too soft and it certainly doesn't seem to be working as months on she is still behaving the same.

Last week we were invited to their house to play. As we were about to leave I told my DS to go and give his friend a cuddle goodbye and she sunk her teeth into his arm. It was a really bad bite. Teeth marks and a bruise the next day. He cried really hard. Again the mum softly said "No, that's not nice" and apologised to me. I've had enough of this now and don't really know what to do about it. I'm pretty sure if I express my feelings to my friend I will probably lose her as a friend - she is very defensive of her DD at the best of times. I find myself avoiding getting together with them because it's so stressful. I can't relax and let them play together as I have to be watching this girl like a hawk. It's not right and I don't know how best to deal with it.

Anyone been in a similar situation?

lollipoppi Sun 16-Feb-14 21:45:00

That's a tricky one, how is the little girl when round at your house?

Could you meet at a park or a play centre? Or maybe go swimming together instead?
I'm just trying to think of places where she would be less possessive of her toys

It would be a shame for you to lose a friendship over this situation

I've not been in the same position exactly, but my ds1 went through a pushing and hitting phase it was a long phase and I would often leave play dates wanting the ground to swallow me up and end up in tears most weeks. Although I was very strict with him when it happened, as in I would leave wherever we were immediately.

Magix Sun 16-Feb-14 21:51:54

Mmm this is a bit of a tricky situation . I know if my toddler was getting bit that often I would definitely be avoiding the perpetrator !

Could you maybe tell her you want to cut down a bit on your visits , you know it's not her fault she's only small and doesn't know any better , but it's also not fair for your ds to be getting bitten like that all the time . Tell her you would still like to do activities where she is less likely to bite though .

I know you say you don't want to lose her as a friend but surely she would understand you just want to protect your ds ?

SuperDuperTrooper Sun 16-Feb-14 21:54:46

Thanks for your reply. She also bites and pinches when at others houses or at other venues. She is particularly bad at her house mind you. So, at a play group on Wednesday she bit another child over a toy too. She has also bitten my DS at our house.

I don't want to lose a friend over this but I'm not enjoying their company anymore as it's really stressful having her around. I had another friend and their child round at the weekend and it was lovely. The 2 children just played nicely and we sat and had a well deserved cuppa. It highlighted for me just how stressful I find having this other little girl around my DS.

PourquoiPas Sun 16-Feb-14 21:59:53

I had a similar situation, and cut down completely on seeing my friend. I didn't want to confront her as she knew her child was behaving unacceptably, she knew I wasn't pleased about her response to her child's behaviour yet she wasn't changing what she was doing. Confronting her would only have ended the friendship completely and I couldn't keep putting my child through the unpleasantness.

We see each other every so often but are not close - I think she is hurt I didn't persevere through her child's difficult phase well difficult two years of hitting and biting but I think this was the best of a bad situation.

Mrsfrumble Sun 16-Feb-14 22:14:19

I certainly wouldn't encourage your child to cuddle her! My 3 year old is not a biter, but he hates having his personal space invaded and will lash out at other children who try and put their arms around him. Not all toddlers like cuddles.

SuperDuperTrooper Sun 16-Feb-14 22:26:31

Well she often runs up to him and cuddles him which is why I encouraged a cuddle. She likes a cuddle - but clearly on her terms. They had also played together so nicely that morning that I possibly got a bit ahead of myself encouraging him to get that close to her.

I haven't yet made my feelings known to the mum about this in anyway. I've always tolerated it expecting it to be a short phase but it's been happening for far too long now which is why I now feel like something needs to change. The mum isn't changing her approach to the behaviour which is why I feel it's down to me to do something protect my DS.

InPursuitOfOblivion Sun 16-Feb-14 22:45:12

I might be a bit judgey pants here but there is no way I would put my child in a position where they are likely to be repeated bitten and pinched.
Balls to the friendship. Make another friend. Maybe if you tell this woman what's what she might take the initiative to parent her little shite girl.

Cataline Sun 16-Feb-14 22:51:46

I'd tell the child off myself if I felt that the parent wasn't doing it effectively and the behaviour was impacting on my child.

InPursuitOfOblivion Sun 16-Feb-14 23:10:26

Would you really cataline?

I think even if my DS was being a horrid little brat I would not tolerate somebody else telling him off. By all means have words with me, but discipline my child and I may just turn nasty!

Cataline Sun 16-Feb-14 23:14:10

I really would! I have friends who are crap at disciplining their kids and I can ignore it mostly but if another child is getting hurt or could be hurt or something might get broken or damaged then I will absolutely say something.

IsItMeOr Sun 16-Feb-14 23:26:38

Only you can decide whether or not you want to sustain your friendship with the parent. Because stopping the visits will be quite likely to break your friendship.

What is it that you think your friend should be doing to teach and/or discipline her DD, that she isn't doing?

For example, would you be able to gently suggest she tries Teeth are not for biting?

Agree with PP who said don't encourage your DS to cuddle again. Lesson learned on that one!

DCs that age are still playing alongside each other, rather than together, so perhaps you could set things up so that they can both play happily but in their own spaces?

InPursuitOfOblivion Sun 16-Feb-14 23:34:53

Cataline how do the mums react to that? I suppose it never occurred to me that some parents don't know how to discipline!
Are they grateful you took the initiative, relieved that they don't have to do it themselves etc?

Sorry OP I've gone off on a bit if a tangent. I'll stop soon I promise grin

toomuchtooold Mon 17-Feb-14 07:44:40

I think if it was me I'd go the cowardly option and try and find excuses to avoid playdates with them, at least till the kid grows out of this phase.

Regarding telling off at 22 months though, one of mine (also 22 months) is going through a bitey phase and we are quite a bit harder on her, tell her off in a harsh voice and she's upset about the telling off but it doesn't stop her doing it. I think at this age you just have to be vigilant.

naty1 Mon 17-Feb-14 09:08:04

I too might be tempted to say something to the child.
Just after he had been bitten
, thats not very nice behaviour is it, youve really upset him, say sorry.
(Possibly only if the parent was a but further away)
Maybe that child would respond more to someone else mentioning it.
Certainly as a parent you have to accept other people saying stuff to your child after all the teachers will have to intervene in a similar situation at school

MoreSnowPlease Mon 17-Feb-14 09:23:24

The thing is kids react differently to different forms of discipline.

Maybe the mum is using gentle discipline because getting angry or using a more forceful voice makes her child react in a worse way. My DS certainly acts up more if he is told off with a stern voice than if he is mostly ignored but told that something is wrong.

blueberryupsidedown Mon 17-Feb-14 09:50:56

If she is your friend, then you can talk to her about it.

For any kind of biting/pushing etc I would always pay a lot of attention to the child who is being bitten. The mum should understand that if she pays attention to her own daughter she will do it over and over again.

So the first thing the mum should do is ignore her own daughter, pay loads of attention to the other child, make sure he/she is ok and go a bit OTT about it. THEN she should turn to her own daughter and say in a sharp voice 'we do not bite, it hurts and we NEVER do it. NEVER'. Then take her daughter to a quiet part of the room and stay with her until she is ready to apologies. No picking her up, no giving her cuddles, no paying attention to her. This method does work. But obviously you can't do it because she is not your daughter. In your shoes, I would try to speak to your friend to make her understand how upset you are, and stop seeing her if you have to.

BertieBottsJustGotMarried Mon 17-Feb-14 09:56:59

I think I'd just avoid her for a few months. Lots of children go through a biting phase and it usually is just a phase (although it can last months - DS went to childminder with a little girl who bit him several times over the course of a year.)

It's a shame, but honestly, I don't think you can tell her how to deal with it, there's no shortage of advice for parents of biters - she'll have been told "Just bite her back!" and also the attention-to-bitten-child thing, I expect time out has been suggested as well, but she's obviously decided for whatever reason that her way is the best way to deal with it and whether it's working or not, that's her decision.

But I would avoid and/or keep visits to a minimum, very closely supervise or micromanage to avoid close contact and no hugs! If the girl is well known for it then the mum will have to do something eventually.

Cataline Mon 17-Feb-14 10:03:03

Sound advice blueberry. I've been in many situations where the parents have simply ignored the child's awful behaviour though and I'll never leave it unchallenged blush
I will usually precede it with "in this house....". Obviously that doesn't work when we're not in my house though! I've had no adverse reactions from friends - who dont seem to mind, I think they're usually relieved their child is listening to someone! I'm perfectly aware they might say stuff when they've left but they always come back grin
When I tell strangers children off (in park, soft play etc) I sometimes get funny looks or they'll come and have a oh but I'm never awful, always kind and calm and always justify why I've done it, without blaming and I've never had it escalate inky anything really unpleasant.
I blame being a teacher! I simply can't help myself grin

Cataline Mon 17-Feb-14 10:04:32

And being a teacher, you'd think I would check for typos!! * *have a go not an oh! & *into not inky!!

RayPurchase Mon 17-Feb-14 10:20:19

I would tell the child off myself, I have done before and I've never had any problems with the parents.

lljkk Mon 17-Feb-14 10:35:30

It's not clear to me that OP has spoken to the biter's mum about the problem. Anyway, if you can't relax no one can blame you for wanting to curtail toddler time together. Maybe go to the pub & leave your kids at home is best way to continue the friendship?

SuperDuperTrooper Mon 17-Feb-14 13:01:48

Thanks for your thoughts everyone.

For those of you that asked I don't feel that the mum is being harsh enough with her DD considering how much and often she is biting children. I don't know the ins and outs so there may be a reason why she is so softly softly with her response but, nevertheless, it's not working to change her behaviour so surely another approach should be tackled.

My DS went through a hitting and pushing phase. I would very firmly tell him no, we don't hit and I would remove him from the situation even if he screamed blue murder for it. He quickly learnt - although maybe I was lucky here! This girls mum will let her DD continue playing with the toy that the "fight" was over and it's often the bitten child that gets whisked away from the situation by their mum. Surely that's not right?!

Some great advise here, thank you ladies. Lots of different opinions which I'm going to have a think about. I've yet to make my feelings about this known to her mum but I'm thinking of doing so. It's because she is a new friend and quite a sensitive woman which is why I'm tiptoeing around her a bit. I know it will be received badly although I also know I should put my DS first. We have a play date tomorrow - wish me luck! - so I'll see how it goes and take it from there.

HelenHen Mon 17-Feb-14 14:39:56

I'd definitely say something! Maybe she doesn't realise it's as bad as it is! Ds went through a Hair pulling phase. I'd pull him away and give out to him and apologise to the moms. They'd always say 'that's ok' and say something annoying their child did. I'd have no problem with any of them giving out to him and told them so. I'd hate to think any of them stopped seeing us without saying anything though.

minibmw2010 Mon 17-Feb-14 18:34:31

I can see the other side of this as my son has been the biter, his language wasn't developed at all and when he got frustrated he bit. I have always been very strong with him about it and I think because my friends could see how upset I was about it and how quick I was to try and deal with it (and in fact avoid scenarios when I knew it might happen) then they were understanding. One little friend of his was quite rough in his play and my DS isn't a fan of it or of being taken by surprise and so we had a few bites. It's horrible, a dreadful feeling to know my DS had done that, even if I understood why. hmm Thankfully as his language has gotten better so the biting has gone.

On a sep note yes I do discipline my friends children if something happens and the parent isn't around to deal with or hasn't seen it. I trust my friends to do the same with my DS too.

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