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DS being bitten in nursery few times

(14 Posts)
rathlin Tue 09-Aug-11 19:26:08

Would really be grateful for some advice as feeling quite upset about this.

I have a 2.5yr old DS who attends nursery 3 days a week. It is beside my workplace so incredibly convenient as we have no family in this country for any back-up etc so just me and DH. DS has been going to the nursery since he was about 13 months and generally seems to enjoy it with the occasional morning still being a bit fraught. He is quite a shy little boy but has got much more confident and I credit the nursery with some of this. He has a couple of friends that he will play with most of the time and apparently he feels more confident and will eat better when with them.

However about one month ago, when I came to collect him, I was told that he had been bitten twice that day by the same child, once on each shoulder. Staff did not witness the 1st incident but saw the 2nd time. My DS did not want to hold the other child's hand so the child bit my DS. I was furious when I found out. If he had been bitten once, I wouldn't have minded too much as they are only children but I was more angry with the nursery staff for it happening twice in one day. They said they would monitor the other child etc and speak to the parents. So I left it at that. They did not tell me who the child was but I had a good idea and my DS confirmed it (though I take his confirmation with a little suspicion).

Today while at work, I had a call from the deputy manager to say that my DS had been bitten on the face by a child (would not confirm identity of child or if it was the same one as previous but I think it probably was). I said that I wanted to put in a formal complaint as I did not think that they were taking this seriously enough and not taking adequate care of my DS. They said they would monitor the child on a 1:1 basis and that they could only do something if an incident happened 3 times in one week and then they would call in parents for a meeting. I don't need to know the other child's name but I would like to know if it is the same child. I am feeling so annoyed about this as my DS has a big bite mark above his cheek which looks like a big lipstick kiss. I had to get home quickly today because of possible troubles with the London riots so I didn't have time to fill in the complaint etc. I feel so helpless and it has taken DS so long to get settled and he enoys it that I'm not sure what to do. The nursery seem unwilling to do much other than monitor the situation for a short time so I would appreciate any advice/suggestions on what I can do or say to the nursery. In terms of what I would want them to do would be either to move the child to another room, call in both parents now for a meeting and issue some kind of warning to them. I don't really know what else to do apart from remove my DS from the nursery but I don't want to do that.

HoneyPablo Wed 10-Aug-11 08:04:07

I am going to be blunt, but what exactly can the nursery do?
Being bitten is never nice but you do have to except that it will happen if you choose group care for your child.
If it was your son that had bitten (and there is nothing to say that it won't be) would you be happy to have a warning issued to you? What exactly could you do, as a parent, when you are not even there.
Sounds like the nursery are taking it seriously, they are going to monitor this child. That is all they can do. They won't move the child to another room, why would they? Biting is a normal phase of development for some children and you have to accept that.
If you don't like it then you can always take your child out

mnistooaddictive Wed 10-Aug-11 08:08:37

I agree, it is part of nursery life to be bitten or scratched etc occasionally. Next time it could be your child scratching others. 3 times in a year is not a lot. What exactly do you want the staff to do? Moving toons is not always possible due to ratios and he bay bite a child in the other room- just passing the problem on.

inmysparetime Wed 10-Aug-11 08:12:32

Biting is just an expression of frustration in children that age. I work in the 2-3s room in a day nursery, and it doesn't matter how closely you supervise the kids, some will still manage to bite. We usually record each bite with information such as: biter, victim, where on the body bitten, time, location, other information. We then review any patterns that emerge, and try to find ways to engage the biter to avoid bite risk situations occurring. I can see why your nursery is doing what it does, as less than 3 bites wouldn't show a meaningful pattern to implement a strategy.

rathlin Wed 10-Aug-11 09:09:30

Thanks for your responses.

I know there is not a lot that can be done either by the staff or nursery but I feel I just can't sit back and let him be bitten continuously. It hasn't been three bites in a year, it's been 3 bites in one month. If it gets to 20 bites in one year, do I just sit back and say, well it's normal and tough luck for my child, he has to bear the brunt of it? The child has bitten other children previously. It has always been done out of frustration by the other child i.e. when he is not getting his own way. If it was my child doing the biting, he would be getting a severe telling off from me. I appreceiate that chastising him after the event may have little effect but biting just doesn't happen out of nowhere. There is a normally a situation that builds up to it and both parents/nursery should be watching closely enough to step in and prevent it escalating especially when there is a history.

My child has never bitten/scratched or done anything to another child that I have been made aware of. He's by no means perfect but is a kind gentle child and doesn't lash out when he doesn't get his own way.

pozzled Wed 10-Aug-11 09:20:35

I think you're being a bit unrealistic about what the nursery and parents can actually do. If the nursery put him in a different room, they are just moving the problem (and you're effectively saying 'Let the child bite other people instead of my DS'). They will monitor him, they will keep the parents informed. The only thing you don't say (I think, apologies if I've missed it) is how they deal with it at the time, e.g. time out, is the child expected to apologise etc? I'd certainly want to clarify that as a parent.

They won't be able to prevent it happening, it only takes a few seconds. They can hardly isolate a 2-3 year-old.

As for the parents, I'm sure they did tell the child off when they were informed- but a telling off several hours after the event won't have much effect at that age. Especially if it's a case of lashing out in frustration.

rathlin Wed 10-Aug-11 09:44:54

thanks for your feedback poozled. I'm not sure what they are doing when the child bites. They had told me previously that they can't chastise him. But I'm not sure exactly what that means. I know they can't smack or shout at him and I wouldn't want them to but I will ask that. I just don't know what to do if it keeps continuing. What would you do? If your child was being bitten frequently by another child and it had happened several times, do you just leave your child to suffer and accept it as part of life? Of course we can move him but why should we since he is innocent. It has only happened 3 times but when it has happened 10 times, does that change anything?

HoneyPablo Wed 10-Aug-11 10:01:21

raithlin I am sorry that your DS is being bitten at nursery. Biting is a 'phase' and most children grow out of it. I doubt that your Ds will be bitten 20 times. It is normally caused by frustration, yes, but that doesn't mean that the child is always trying to get his own way. Frustration is usually caused by the child's lack of ability to communicate effectively. Most children have the ability to think and reason before they learn to actually say the words out loud. They can understand a lot more than they can say, some experts say children's reasoning and cognitive abilities are about a year ahead of their speech and language abilities. This means that sometimes children simply can't communicate what they want to, they are not able to express themselves. That's where the biting comes in. The child may want to play with a toy, they may want to join in the paly, thay may have other needs, like hunger or thirst. They may be trying to tell the other child, 'back off, you're too close'.
The biting normally stops as a child learns to express themselves better. Unless the child learns it is a good way to get attention. Some children do learn that any attention is better than no attention. Then you get a vicious cycle of biting for attention.
The best way to deal with biters is to shadow tham and try to stop it before it happens. Which is what the nursery sounds like it is doing. The nursery will have a behaviour policy which you will have access to.
Prevention is so much better than trying to deal with it afterwards. Does the environment this support this philosphy? Are the children happy, engaged, do the staff have time for the children?
Don't forget that the paqrent sof the biter are customers too, and the nursery has a duty to care for their child too.

Piffpaffpoff Wed 10-Aug-11 10:30:09

Sorry, but I agree with the other posters. Both my DCs were bitten in nursery by other children. DD was bitten twice in quick succession and the nursery did exactly what yours are doing i.e. Close monitoring of the other child. I was upset about it but accepted that it was just something that could happen in any childcare setting. I was happy with the nursery's response and how they handled it and it stopped really quickly. Dd was bitten on the face, which was a bit upsetting, but it faded quickly.

BertieBotts Wed 10-Aug-11 10:40:00

Can you tell DS that if he thinks a child is about to bite him, he should shout "NO!" very loudly? We had an incident at DS' childminder's where one of the other children bit him a couple of times, and they dealt with the biter, but have also been trying to encourage DS to say "NO, X!" or "Stop it, X!" if they are doing something he doesn't like. Of course this doesn't always stop it from happening, but it alerts an adult more quickly, and occasionally it shocks the perpetrator into hesitating, which gives an adult time to get there!

BertieBotts Wed 10-Aug-11 10:41:00

And yes biting can just come from nowhere, it's a phase in some children, the child involved in our case came from a very loving and gentle family.

rathlin Wed 10-Aug-11 10:58:51

Thanks for your feedback everyone. I talked to my child yesterday that he should say "stop" or "no" but he seemed to get upset when I was saying this and he had probably forgotten all about it (the joys of being 2!). I think he thought I was telling him off and he didn't quite understand what I was talking about. I have taken all of your advice on board and really am grateful.

Lizcat Wed 10-Aug-11 13:51:59

Firstly I have been on both ends of this scenario at about 10 months old my DD was bitten by another child at nursery on several occasions - I felt awful.
At 18 months of age my DD then became the biter and I was informed every single time she bit another child and actually I felt a million times worse than when she had been bitten.
My nursery had a clear policy on how to manage biting which included identifying triggers and also had to manage both the bitten and biter. I as a parent also followed the same policy at home. My DD was a biter for around 2 months and then due to consistent policy from nursery and myself and also her talking improved so she could vocalise her frustration she stopped.
Having been bitten by my DD on several occasions I can say that it can be very difficult even as an adult to anticipate when you will be bitten.
I would ask the nursery what their biting policy is, so that you understand how they are managing this.
I do know that DD's nursery introduced baby signing to help reduce the frustration from not being able to communicate in pre-vocal children and from what I have heard this has reduced the number of biters in the nursery. However, this needs to be started from very early on to work I believe.

LovetheHarp Tue 16-Aug-11 11:38:40

I understand you because I have been in both shoes and it is hard.

My DD1 was bitten loads of times at nursery and it became a bit silly. It all calmed down when she moved to pre-school. Then my DS1 started biting other children from 10 months of age and did not grow out of it completely until he was 4 years old. The weird thing he is the most gentle, kind and laid back character but bit when he got frustrated. He still does get very flustered very quickly but has learned to control his emotions.

Like someone else said, it was awful when he bit all the time and we tried absolutely everything - exclusion seemed to work but only temporarily as he then started again and you had to start all over.

My DS2 also went through a very short phase of biting, he was 2 and a half and he just started nursery and must have found it difficult. He stopped though after a month or so. It was harder with him as he did not bite at home and it was impossible to control. I think staff did their best.

It seems to be something children go through but it is not a reflection on bad parenting or a bad nursery, if you move him you might find the same thing happening elsewhere, unfortunately. Hope it all stops soon though, it's awful to see your child bitten, especially on the face!!!

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