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2yo biting and preschool reaction

(22 Posts)
minipie Mon 24-Nov-14 17:56:50

Hi all

Hoping for advice/experience. DD is just turned 2 and is going through a phase of teething on and off with back molars. When the teething is bad, and when this is combined with her getting cross/frustrated eg when another child takes a toy off her, she will sometimes bite or try to bite the other child.

In total she's bitten other kids about 5 times in the last 2 months. Before that she never bit (though she did go through a brief hitting phase, gaain teething related, about 6 months ago).

Obviously we tell her no biting, get cross, explain it hurts and makes people sad, take her away from the situation, home if necessary, etc. She is very verbal and it seems like she understands what we are saying about biting but then forgets when the teething hits/rage descends. She cries after biting and says sorry to the other child, but I think she slightly got the wrong idea about sorry and thinks that means it's all ok??

So my first question is: any tips on how to handle biting at this age?

Next issue is that she is at a pre school one morning a week (it's really a pre-pre school, the children are 18 months to 2.5 years). 2 of the biting incidents have happened at the pre school (last week and 3 weeks ago), plus one "near miss" about 2 months ago. They have said she is beautifully behaved the rest of the time and at least one of the bitings was under severe provocation (lots of pushing and shoving from another child).

However since the last incident they seem to be taking it extremely seriously. I was taken aside by one of the staff at pick up time last week to be told DD had bitten a little boy, how it happened, etc (she had to tell me of course). Then the manager phoned me that afternoon to talk about it more, which surprised me a bit.

Now the manager has emailed me to ask to meet to discuss. I am a bit hmm as I am not sure what more there is to discuss? Obviously I agree it's bad that she's biting, I feel awful about it and I understand the bitee's parents must be upset. But it's only been twice (different children), both very recent, they have said it's a phase some kids go through and suggested 1-2-1 for now. I'm pretty sure when the teething calms down it will stop. I'm not sure what else can be done about it, so I don't know why she wants to meet. I am worried she is going to start talking about excluding DD.

So my second question is: is this a normal reaction from the pre school? Is it really abnormal/worrying for a 2 year old to bite? Are they likely to be thinking of excluding DD? Do I need to try to make it to a meeting with the manager (I work full time so would involve taking time off work)?

Sorry for the essay! Didn't want to leave out anything relevant.

Thank you

SaltyandSweet Mon 24-Nov-14 19:41:53

I really sympathize. I have been on both sides of this - my eldest received several bites whilst at nursery, his brother was a biter when he was at nursery . It's horrible from both standpoints.

When my second bit in nursery, I was mortified that he had caused such pain to other little kids. Both kids had bit me in the past and I know it is nothing to shrug off! I think it is a mistake to attribute biting entirely to teething, and if you have said this to the nursery then I think it may be understandable that they think you're not taking this seriously enough. I attributed my DS2's biting to overexcitement and a reaction to behaviour from other kids he didn't like. The nursery teachers sat him down and explained very strongly that biting is never ok. I repeated this at home. It worked, we were very stern about it. It helped that I never tried to excuse it which, from my POV, you seem to be doing - teething, "provocation" from other kids. Shoving is not the same as biting as far as I am concerned. I think you should see the nursery's concern as a good thing and work together with them to find a way to stop your DD from biting. They have a duty to look after all the kids in their care and I think are trying to find a way forward. Instead of looking for excuses, recognise that your DD is behaving inappropriately and work together to get through it. It IS a stage and she will get through it

siblingrevelryagain Mon 24-Nov-14 19:51:04

I hate to say it OP but your post is full of excuses and reasons for this behaviour, and I'm hazarding a guess that maybe nursery don't feel you're taking it seriously enough. Biting is and should be zero tolerance (kids don't bite one another when they're teething), so I would worry about the frequency (as in, I would imagine-and I wasn't there so don't know-the reaction on previous occasions hasn't been severe enough to let them know that it's not allowed under any circumstances).

I had to be called at work to advise me that my three year old had been bitten last week-she was really upset and there's a mark on her shoulder. Don't underestimate how distressing it is for anyone being bitten.

I'd be coming down hard on your DD-very stern, not allowed to play with others, lose a favourite toy for a period of time etc.

And before anyone accuses me of not living in the real world, I have three young children, who all bit as toddlers-but only ever once. It's not inevitable, just like hitting and other violence isn't inevitable if the child understands that some things are just a no-no.

tiggyhop Mon 24-Nov-14 19:59:32

I feel so strongly about this - my DD only ever bit her brother but I was gently told by nursery that I was reacting all wrong - I was telling her off, etc etc, generally doing what you do and ignoring poor old DS who had been bitten. Please change your approach. Ignore the biter, make a massive fuss of the victim. The biter gets zero attention, zero. Pick her up, put her a long way away from everyone, and ignore, ignore. I promise you will see a change.

Agree with other posters - stop excusing the behaviour though.

Pelicangiraffe Mon 24-Nov-14 20:02:36

Possibly the more recent bites caused a lot of pain and damage to the skin?

I think you are dealing with the biting incorrectly at home. Getting cross is the wrong reaction and results in her getting lots of negative attention.

Pelicangiraffe Mon 24-Nov-14 20:03:50

Zero attention for biter, load of attention for the victim. Walk off with the victim. You probably don't need to say anything at all

Misty9 Mon 24-Nov-14 20:04:03

I'm posting as the mother of a biter, ds now 3.2 has done this on and off since early toddlerhood and has recently started again with one friend in particular. I agree, although it might be explainable it is never excusable and that's waht I tell ds. We find the book "teeth are not for biting" is useful, as is really working with your dd to think of alternatives she can use to biting. Waking away, stamping feet, telling an adult (if being provoked) are all strategies understood by ds from a young age, if not always successfully used...

I doubt the pre school are looking to exclude your dd, more check you realise the seriousness of the situation as the others posters said. I'd use their expertise in this area - ds is a bloody angel at nursery so they never have to help him with frustration else I'd be picking their brains for sure!

Couple of other things, is she doing this at home with you too? Also, I never encourage hugging when ds is going through a biting phase, is this something she does? I sympathise, it's a horrible feeling when your child bites sad

Emstheword Mon 24-Nov-14 20:16:49

I sympathise and my DD was the victim on a couple of occasions (their horrified parents apologised profusely). I can assure you that teething was not the cause though....the second time, the child was over 3 years old! I agree: extremely stern, then ignore.

minipie Mon 24-Nov-14 21:21:19

Thanks for the advice.

Fair points. I am not meaning to make excuses honestly - I don't think it's ok to bite just because she is teething and it definitely is her being cross as well as just teething - I'm just saying IME it only happens when she is teething, there is a clear link. I guess I am saying this with the intention of reassuring them/myself that she won't do it soon when the teething calms down - but I can see now that it may come across as an excuse. The provocation thing was something the pre school said not me (they really stressed it) I totally agree shoving is not the same and not an excuse.

The tricky thing is she doesn't do it with me. It's only happened in bigger group situations so with her nanny at playgroups or at the pre school. So I can't change my reaction I will have to ask my nanny to change hers, which I will do. I'll suggest making a big fuss of the bitten child and ignoring dd. I can talk to dd about it after pre school but obviously that's delayed not at the time.

Thanks again


minipie Mon 24-Nov-14 21:55:18

Sorry one further question.

What's the best approach if she has gone to bite someone, but been prevented in time? Do we do the same as if she had actually bitten (as advised above) or something different?

thanks again

Pelicangiraffe Mon 24-Nov-14 22:12:31

I would show her how to touch and say 'gently, like this'

I'd also encourage her to use her words to ask for toys

Misty9 Mon 24-Nov-14 22:28:34

Ds has a habit of giving a warning 'mouth' where he'll put his mouth on someone but not actually bite. I respond in the same way as biting because the intention is the same.

wheresthelight Mon 24-Nov-14 22:49:21

i agree with everyone else that you have handled it very badly at home and clearly the nursery have run out of options if they have asked you to come in and discuss. they may also have had complaints from the parents of the kids she has bitten.

You may see a correlation in timing of these instances, but i don't think the teething has anything at all to do with it. You need to teach her that it is wrong and if you are unsure how to do that then you need to be asking the nursery head for some help and advice. Ask them how they would normally deal with this sort of behaviour so that you can mirror their actions at home. It will give you some experienced advice but will also show them that you are prepared to work with them and are not going to minimise what she has done which unfortunately for you is how you have probably come across by giving so many excuses for the behaviours.

i would suggest immediate removal from the situation, naughty step and then ignore her completely and make a huge fuss of the person she has bitten. Then when her time is up you ask her to explain why she thinks she has had to be removed and what she should do next, encourage her to apologise for hurting someone and remind her that she doesn't like it when someone hurts her. She needs to relate it to feeling pain herself for her to understand it is wrong.

I grew up in the 80's and my sister was so badly bitten by a boy in her preschool class that she stopped breathing and an ambulance had to be called - please do not underestimate the damage that can be caused

minipie Mon 24-Nov-14 23:32:15

I have already asked the nursery for their advice and suggestions - I did so from the very first incident. They've not given me any suggestions as yet, I hope the proposed meeting will do that.

I think you're being a bit harsh wheres - I may have got it wrong (though as you'd see if you'd read the whole thread, it's not actually been me) but I have been trying, I haven't been just doing nothing. I've already done a lot of what you suggest - removal, encouraging her to apologise and explaining to her about it hurting and how she doesn't like it when someone hurts her. What I hadn't thought of and will now try following this thread is ignoring DD and making a big fuss of the other child rather than focusing on getting cross with her.

"so many excuses" - I think you're misreading my post as being all things I've said to nursery. The provocation was mentioned by them not by me. "It's a phase" is also something they said, not me. Teething yes I have mentioned to them but in the sense that it might help give a bit of warning of when biting is more likely, rather than as an excuse (though as I say, I can see it might have seemed that way). If anything, up till now it has been them minimising it rather than me - which is why I was surprised when their approach suddenly seemed to escalate.

Perhaps on the teething days I should keep her home?

minipie Tue 25-Nov-14 00:15:33

Just remembered - I did say to preschool when the biting first started that if she bit they should call me and I would come take her home. they have never called me though, just told me at pick up - so I assumed they didn't like this approach? is this a bad idea?

tiggyhop Tue 25-Nov-14 01:06:18

I think taking her home is a terrible idea, that way she gets even more attention

minipie Tue 25-Nov-14 07:23:42

ok, thanks. just trying to think of things I can do given I'm not there when it happens. anyway, let's see what pre school suggest.

wheresthelight Tue 25-Nov-14 08:13:41

I have read the whole thread thanks and actually I haven't said anything that others haven't other than pointing out that biting can be incredibly serious for the person bitten. and you are still excusing it with teething.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Tue 25-Nov-14 08:24:05

I agree with what has already been said, it sounds like you are giving her a bit too much attention while explaining why she shouldn't bite. Even negative attention is attention so you need to give zero attention and remover her sharp from the situation.

The fact the nursery have called you in means it's got serious- stop making excuses.

Taking her home would be a dreadful plan- even more attention.

DameDiazepamTheDramaQueen Tue 25-Nov-14 08:27:54

The thing is if she is excused for biting when her teeth have come through she will have already learned that behaviour iyswim.

BotBotticelli Tue 25-Nov-14 08:39:04

wheresthelight I think saying "you've handled this very badly at home" is unnecessarily harsh on the OP.

She has come here looking for advice and help. Let's be honest: all of us are just muddling through, making it up as we go along, aren't we?? I certainly would never dare to judge another mum as having handled it "very badly" when their DC throws them a curve ball and they're not sure how to react.

FWIW my DS (23mo) has been bitten a couple of times at nursery and has bitten a couple of times too - most recently at a family gathering when he but his 5yo cousin 3 times in a couple d hours.

I know he did this cos she was pissing him off and trying to lift him up like a doll (!) but I just sternly told him no we do not bite. Made him apologise and then gave his cousin a big cuddle, lots of kisses etc.

I can't promise he won't do it again but I will use the same response if he does. And hope it works.

OP a meeting with the nursery will probably be useful so you can agree a strategy for when she bites so that you, the nursery and the nanny can all do exactly the same thing.

Approach it in the spirit of "right let's join forces and sort this out" and I am sure it will all be fine.

Can the manager meet you at 0730am when the nursery opens to avoid you taking much time off work?

minipie Tue 25-Nov-14 14:05:56

The manager's going to call me this afternoon, then I can talk to nanny this evening so all should be consistent.

BotBot that's what I've been doing... but clearly not working. Hopefully you will have more success with your DS! Thanks for support.

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