Most of you know that I have had a less than stellar experience having Layla in daycare for the last six months. Actually, I just shocked myself by typing the words six months because it actually feels like she’s been in daycare for a lifetime.
I expected Layla to bring home colds and the occasional bumps and bruises, but bites never crossed my mind. This is a picture of Layla’s third bite from a first-time offender. She previously had two other bites back to back from a repeat offender who has since been tamed. Obviously this mark is horrifying to look at, and it certainly brought me to tears after an especially stressful work week.
Many thoughts ran through my mind. What am I still doing at work? I should just quit and take her out this instant. Why can’t the daycare control these kids?
My concerns only grew after reading information in forums and on medical and government sites. Parents were bringing up concerns about biters transmitting infections such as viral hepatitis and even HIV. I had never even thought about these things! My biggest concern was that Layla would pick up this horrible behaviour and start biting other kids.
So here’s a quick lowdown on childcare biting that I hope others going through the same thing can find some comfort in.
- Biting is extremely common with children three and under, especially in a childcare setting.
- Most bites occur due to a child’s frustration or inability to appropriately express their feelings. Reasons may vary depending on age.
- Most children stop biting on their own, and it usually doesn’t normally lead to behaviour problems later in life.
What you can do if your child bites:
- Ask the childcare facility how the situation was handled, followed by details on what the procedure is for repeat offenders.
- Observe at home how, when and why a child bites (or get these details from the staff).
- Ensure the behaviour is redirected through other activities.
- Be firm and ensure that the biter knows that this is not acceptable behaviour and will not be tolerated.
- Avoid punishing the behaviour but reward positive behaviour.
- If biting continues, consider alternative childcare in a smaller setting. Be prepared that the facility may request this on a temporarily basis.
- If improvement is not made, consider speaking with a behaviour modification specialist or a therapist.
If your child has been bitten:
- Risk of infection is minimal (details about possible specific infections can be found here).
- When at home, clean the wound with soap and water and apply a cold compress while comforting the child.
- Ask the childcare facility how the situation was handled, followed by details on what their procedure for repeat offenders is.
- Inspect the wound. If the skin is not broken, clean the wound with soap and water. Apply a cold compress and soothe the child.
How to avoid a biting situation:
- Avoid pretending to bite your child or let your child bite you in play. (I am guilty of this as my husband and I pretend to bite Layla’s toes all the time. We have since stopped this game.)
- Don’t bite your child back to show them that it hurts, this only reinforces the behaviour.
- Learn to recognize the signs that your child is about to bite so you can stop it before it happens.
- Teach your child to express themselves through words such as “no” or “I don’t like that.”
There is a possibility that if your child has been bitten they may copy the behaviour, but with these prevention tips, hopefully you can nip it in the bud.