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Biting at nursery - is my sister right to be concerned?

(49 Posts)
Enid Fri 02-Jun-06 10:07:43

My niece (15 months) has been bitten three times (by different children apparently) over the last four weeks at nursery.

The nursery staff say its a normal phase in behaviour and there is nothing they can do about it.

I don't have much experience of nursery at this age but it seems to me (and my sister) that there must be something they can do? We understand its a 'phase' but does that mean that my niece and sister have to put up with it?

Dsis has spoken to the staff who make her feel as though she is being overly paranoid.

Blossomhill Fri 02-Jun-06 10:09:22

What age are the children that are biting?

FioFio Fri 02-Jun-06 10:10:43

Message deleted

PrettyCandles Fri 02-Jun-06 10:11:10

If it was one child doing the biting, then I'd accept that that child had a problem, but I'd expect the staff to be doing their best to deal with it, and to tell you what they were doing about it.

If several children are doing it then IMO there's a problem with the staff. Inadequate supervision perhaps? Inappropriate/inconsistent responses to the biting? Just because some children go through biting phases doesn't mean that others have to just sit there and accept it!

I don't think she's being overly paranoid.

Enid Fri 02-Jun-06 10:12:16

I think they are 2 and under? will check.

She wouldnt be so bothered if it was one child - but the fact it is three different chlidren is worrying her

FairyMum Fri 02-Jun-06 10:20:48

I agree with the nursery it is a phase for many children in this age-group and they cannot always prevent it from happening, but they should still take it seriously and discipline the biter. In our nursery, they removed the biter from the situation and gave lots of cuddles to the "victim". It was all marked down in the accident book and as a mother of biters I was always informed that my child had bitten. I do know parents who did not accept any such incidents in nursery and tbh then I don't think nursery is for them. A group of 2 year-olds together, fighting over toys etc....well.........It's BB house times a million, isn't it?Don't think the staff can avoid or see everything. I have 3 children and cannot even keep them apart on a good day.....

batters Fri 02-Jun-06 10:22:43

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

juuule Fri 02-Jun-06 10:47:15

I wouldn't be happy with my child being repeatedly bitten by several children. If the biters are known why can't someone keep a closer eye on them and intervene when the situation looks like they are going to bite? These children can't be left to it. Someone needs to explain to them that it's not the right way to behave. Every time they bite they should be withdrawn from whatever they are doing, either until the message gets through or the phase passes. The bitten child/ren should be protected. It's a nursery not a menagerie. I think you and your sister are correct.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Fri 02-Jun-06 11:01:27

I would be far more worried it it was one child, as it could mean your niece was being singled out by a particular child.
3 separate instances just sounds like bad luck to me. Perhaps biters are like buses?

Enid Fri 02-Jun-06 11:09:48

come on more pkease i want to impress her with mumsnet

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Fri 02-Jun-06 11:15:56

well I agree with FM- ask the nursery what they are doing. The incidents may be unavoidable. I would expect a biter to receive the sort of attention that FM describes.

When ds1 was about 3 he went through short phase of pinching children. He was asssigned a 1:1 anyway but nursery explained that because he was so fast they could not stop every incident. He would probably average painful contact with 4 children per session. A behavioural plan was drawn up (he was doing it at home to ds2 as well so we did the same here), and the behaviour lasted about 2 weeks, after which time he returned to being in the incident book for being on the receiving end of things rather than the instigator.

So point being, I think often these things cannot be prevented, especially if you have children do not have the understanding to be reasoned with (like under 2s), but that everyone in the nursery needs to know what the appropriate reaction is, and the behavioural management plan needs to be reveiwed to make sure it is working. If not it needs to be changed.

Securlurking Fri 02-Jun-06 11:38:50

Well all my children have been in Nursery at under two and I can recal 3 possibly 4 bit incidents between all 4 of them - in each case they were the victim.

Mine went through the stage of biting but it lasted days and they never bit at nursery (the staff tell parents of any oncidents like this)

I would be worried about that many in that time but agree it is more likely a supervison problem than any childs "fault".

If the staff have a "get on with it" attitude as it would seem from their reaction to your sis then I would expect that this behaviour is not being properly addressed and she hsould look into it further - but that is just me, I can be a bit of a worry wart about these things!

Hollyboo Fri 02-Jun-06 11:57:21

I would be very concerned. If the children were hitting or kicking would they tell you it's 'normal' behaviour?

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Fri 02-Jun-06 12:04:10

At under 2? Absolutely normal behaviour. And exactly the same approach should be used with biting as with hitting and kicking.

Incidentally ds3 gets very bitey when teething, and not really at all inbetween. Are the children at an age when they might be teething? DS3 is just under 17 months.

Enid Fri 02-Jun-06 12:19:31

Yes we know its normal. Dd2 was a biter for a while and dd1 was a hitter.

But I don't think I would be happy with this many incidents in four weeks.

But is that just what you have to expect from nursery? I could tell when mine were going to do it and stop them. And luckily, after a few stern words they stopped doing it pretty quickly.

FrannyandZooey Fri 02-Jun-06 12:20:51

I am of the opinion that the children should be closely supervised enough to stop this sort of incident occuring in the majority of cases. It sounds like even in the more frequent case with Jimjams' son, the staff were managing to stop the pinching more often than not. Of course the odd pinch or bite is going to get through, but I would be concerned if one child has experienced 3 separate bites in such a short period of time - this would suggest either an epidemic of biting, which warrants some new strategies being put into place, or insufficient supervision.

Jimjamskeepingoffvaxthreads Fri 02-Jun-06 12:37:11

Well ds1 was only there for a max of 4 hours at a time and was managing to get to 4(ish) children per session with full time 1:1 support (which under 2's wont have is it 1:3?) Nursery said to me they really couldn't do much to stop the incidences because there was no trigger (he wasn't doing it aggressively, he was just doing it because someone happened to attract his attention and be standing in a convenient place so probably a good comparison for an under 2 biting).

TBH if this went on week after week after week and I wasn't convinced the nursery were doing much then I might consider moving them, but initially I would assume it was just unlucky.

FairyMum Fri 02-Jun-06 12:43:05

At the height of his reign of terror, DS1 used to bite at least one child a day for a few weeks. It's a phase, but it takes time to pass. I do think parents need to chill a bit. When mine come home with bite marks, I say "wow, he must have strong teeth. must be good at brushing his teeth". don't make a big deal. I think sometimes nursery staff get a bit tired of parents expecting them to see absolutely everything which goes on. And like Jimjams says, it happens so quickly. A 2 year-old doesn't issue a formal warning.

clairemow Fri 02-Jun-06 13:12:18

DS bit someone yesterday at nursery. He is a happy child, v. friendly, but gets a bit over-excited sometimes. Yesterday's incident happened at lunch. He's just moved into the next room for 2+ years old, and they sit for lunch for about 45 mins. DS eats quite fast, and would never sit for that long normally, so I suspect he was bored... DS is not a serial biter, this is the first time in about 6 months.

He has also come home a few times having been bitten himself. Everything I've read on this topic suggests that biting is a phase, and so long as the nursery are doing something every time it happens (our one removes the biter from the situation, they say not to bite, and then lavish attention on the one bitten), and keep their eyes open to try and intervene/distract), then I think they are doing all they can do.

At 2, I don't think children bite maliciously in general, although this may sometimes happen, and the most important thing is that the nursery try to teach that it isn't an acceptable form of "communication".

clairemow Fri 02-Jun-06 13:13:10

Oh yes, thought of something else - sometimes a 2 year old about to bite looks like a 2 year old about to give a lovely kiss... Now I wouldn't want to stop that..

FairyMum Fri 02-Jun-06 13:31:40

Can't do link, but perhaps this is an idea (in small size)?

PetitFilou1 Fri 02-Jun-06 13:35:25

Speaking as the mother of a biter (who also has been bitten himself) - I have to say I agree with the nursery staff. This is as long as they are using time out, or some other form of discipline, for the children who are doing the biting. Biting seems to be really common between the ages of 1+ and 2.5 and then they seem to grow out of it. At the moment my ds has a sticker chart at nursery if he doesn't bite (he is 2.4 and it seems to be working). But I agree it is horrible when your child comes home with bite marks- I can only empathise....

PetitFilou1 Fri 02-Jun-06 13:40:57

Enid btw ds has recently been biting between 4-6 times A DAY at nursery so I don't consider 3 bites in 4 weeks a lot myself. Ds does have a problem but we are dealing with it and it is linked strongly, we think, with his sister getting on the move (she is 9 months) and wanting to get more attention. We've been really upset about it so I'm sure the parents of the biters at your sister's nursery feel the same.

blueshoes Fri 02-Jun-06 13:43:09

Agree with that it is fine if the nursery has a strategy for dealing with biters and aggressive behaviour. However, I will be dismayed if the staff just dismissed it as a phase and did nothing about it.

I suspect that your sister will suddenly become a lot more relaxed if and once her niece enters the biting/aggressive phase and becomes the aggressor!

Gizmo Fri 02-Jun-06 13:43:30

DS was in nursery at this age and yes, there was a lot of biting (it came and went in waves). Normal behaviour, as everyone else has said.

However, just because it is normal does not mean it is acceptable. Our nursery took care to put disciplinary structures in place from an early age: biter removed from situation, attention given to bitten child, incident noted in accident book and both sets of parents informed of incidents (on a 'no-names' basis).

If a particular child was going through a 'biting' phase the staff would try to be extra vigilant to prevent too many attacks, although to be honest, it was difficult for them to be totally effective. Still I think they did reduce the number of incidents.

So in short, I think your sister's nursery is too casual about this: do they not have any policies about teaching the kids good manners? Surely that is part of the role of a good nursery?

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