Once Bitten, Twice Shy

I picked up O from daycare yesterday and saw an “incident report” on the front desk. I cringed. Usually this meant O had been bitten. The kids in his class are at “that” age, and lots of people like to take a bite outta O. But this incident report was different.

It read:

“O had a problem with biting today. He tried to bite other children approximately four times, but we were able to stop it two of the times times. We think he’s probably teething–he did better yesterday when he was given Tylenol in the morning.”

I was horrified! But it gets worse.

I walked in O’s room to see him sitting at the table, happy as a lark, tossing blocks about. I asked the afternoon teacher about the biting. She said since she had been on duty (a mere three and a half hours) he had tried to bite approximately five (!!!) more times–successfully making contact once. What the?

She went on to say that she too, thought, he was teething. I told her if this were ever to happen again to PLEASE call me, and I’d come and give him some tylenol or ibuprofen (teachers aren’t allowed to adminster medication). I also asked her if they were giving him a firm “No,” and removing him from the situation when he tried to bite (my pediatrician’s recommendation for how to handle biting/slapping). She said that they were, but it didn’t seem to phase O.

“Usually if we reprimand him for everything, he gets upset and corrects his behavior,” his teacher explained. “But not today. He didn’t seem to care.”

What the? What’s going on with my boy? Is he sick of being a chew toy and started fighting back? Was it his way of getting some alone time? Or is he simply teething?

Poor kid has been teething his whole life (got his bottom two at three months with the top two following a mere month later)! He’s gotta mouthful of chompers–almost everyone who sees a him comments on how many teeth he has–so I thought the worst was over. But this biting thing is new. I’m not sure how to handle it. I’m sensitive about overmedicating him, but I don’t want him to bite other children. (I keep thinking back to O’s teacher night. Other parents were talking about the prevelance of biting with this age group, and a few of the moms shuddered, “I don’t want *MY* kid to be come a biter.”)

I hope this phase will be shortlived. Maybe he just had a bad day and some of other kids were getting on his nerves. I can’t say I haven’t toyed with the idea of knocking some co-workers upside the head when they annoy me real bad. In the meantime, does anyone have any advice?

12 thoughts on “Once Bitten, Twice Shy

  1. We went through this recently with our toddler. What we did:

    – Read her Teeth Are Not for Biting every night at bedtime.
    – Removed her from the situtation when it happened at school
    – One of her teachers came up with the idea of having a pacifier readily available to her (ie clipped to her clothes with a pacifier clip) so that when they saw her about to bit, she would redirect her to the pacifier, as we also believed it was due in large part to her teething.

    And it was only a phase. I signed countless incident reports, but after about 3 weeks, I haven’t had any since.

  2. Heidi Hyde says:

    I’m sorry this is happening! That’s a tough phase. I would suggest not making too big of a deal out of it– attention, whether positive or negative can exacerbate the problem. (Of course that being said, he does need to be told “no” and removed from the situation.)

    Good luck to you!


  3. How about get him a brother to naw on, that worked for us. Seriously, I wish I could help… I always though it would be harder to be on the biter end than the bitee, and I commend the daycare and other parents for not trying to kick him out – hate to hear when that happens.

    I’ve heard maybe a lovey/soft blanket or wooden toy to chew on. If it’s purely a teething issue, there are some little tablets you can buy that are not as strong as tylenol or ibuprofin if you want to medicate less. but if it’s also a frustration outlet, trying to redirect him – although I’ve heard of kids starting to hurt themselves when the parents succesfully got them to stop hurting others, which is really tough but I don’t thinkt that’s you issue (I’ve mostly seen that when it’s a new baby/jealosy thing).

    Good luck.

  4. Awww. Thanks everyone for your advice. Today was fine–no incidents. So maybe it was just a bad day? They said they gave him a special teether and he was in seventh heaven b/c the teether was all “his”. But I think I gotta check out that “Teeth Are Not for Biting” book–just for the hell of it if nothing else.

    As for being kicked out of daycare–I didn’t even think that was an option! No one mentioned anything like that. Once, he was bit so hard it actually bled. And I know the other mom was so much more upset than I was. It is much harder when they are the biters.

  5. oh man..hopefully it will be short. My middle child went through this – but it lasted about 5 days…then she was done. Good luck!

  6. I’m so worried my 1-year old son will have a problem with this too!! He gets in a ‘biting’ mood when he is overly-excited or when we are playing around on the floor. I don’t know what to do about it. His daycare workers said he has tried to bite the other kids a few times, but I don’t think they would have told me unless I asked!

  7. Amy–

    My daycare’s policy isn’t to tell either, unless it becomes a problem (like the other day). Although I asked if he was biting back when he was the one getting bit, and they told me no.

    Part of me wonders if it doesn’t become a learned behavior. He gets bit so much, he starts to bite back. But also, from what I’m seeing here, it’s just something kids do–out of frustration, teething, whatever.

  8. I was afraid our daughter would be a biter – she bit a couple of kids at her babysitter’s, and the sitter said if it happened much more, she wouldn’t be able to watch Little One anymore. While it sucks to have your kid bitten, I do think it’s harder to be the parent whose kid bites because you can do everything possible, but if the child really wants to bite, he or she will.

    It’s funny, though. I’ve heard of the “Teeth Are Not for Biting” book, and I can’t help but think, “Um… but they *are* for biting. That’s basically why you have teeth.” Granted, teeth are for biting apples, not other children, but that title has always struck me funny.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Oh, i’m so sorry you have to endure the biting stage. I have twin 4 mo olds and am seriously hoping they don’t take after their big brother and bite everything that sits still long enough.
    My pediatrician had us ignore the behavior and without much reaction, pick him up and move him to something else, a different toy, room etc. This way he wasn’t getting the really funny mommy’s mad face and the loud NO . He really liked those things it seems and so this was encouragement to continue. It actually worked ! Good luck!

  10. We had a problem with a bitter at our Daycare. What they ended up doing was moving the child up to the next level room even though she wasn’t due to move up for two months. The room she was in was very confining and in the next room she was free to move around more. It seemed to help.

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