When a child gets bit by another child in child care, it is a difficult situation for everyone involved. Child care providers often are upset that a child in their care has been hurt and that a child in their care was the cause. Teachers also know that both sets of parents will be upset. Parents of the child who was bitten are natural concerned for their child, and their child’s safety. Additionally, parents of the child who bit are often very concerned about their child’s ability to avoid this situation in the future, and how to help their young child make a different choice. Finally, everyone in the situation struggles with what to do and feeling powerless in the situation. Everyone, that is, except the child who bit.
Biting is about power. Biting happens because one child is expressing something to another child. That child may be expressing anything from a simple “good morning” to feeling frustrated or hungry. Children may bite because they are feeling overstimulated, or because they are teething. It is a primal urge in humans, no matter how unacceptable it is socially. Biting is a natural phenomenon that can be managed with a few simple steps.
First, talk to your child care provider ahead of time. Ask how biting is handled in your child’s center. Will the teachers call you if your child is bitten? Will they call you if your child has bitten someone else? How to they handle the immediate aftermath of a bite? How do they prepare for biting in the one year old classroom? If biting becomes a regular feature of your child’s day, how will they handle it? Knowing ahead of time what to expect if a bite happens will help you feel more in control of the situation. It is also important that you talk to your child’s teachers if you see any biting behaviors happening at home. Your child’s teachers will appreciate having this information, so they can better support your child. Don’t worry- quality child care providers will never hold this information against you or your child.
Second, pay attention to your child at home. Does your child enjoy chewing on toys, books or blankets? Keeping teeth rings or other chewable items close may help your child keep their chewing needs off of their peers. Does your child become overly excited in crowds or times when there is a lot going on? Letting your child’s teachers know that will help them plan for your child’s day. Finally, is your child experimenting with showing affection? Sometimes a bit is a child’s first attempts at returning all those kisses we have showered them with since birth. Helping children learn more appropriate ways to show their affections for their friends can help avoid some bites.
Biting can be frustrating and exhausting. But it is also a normal phase in your child’s development. By working together with your child care provider, everyone can get through these moments with grace and relief.