"Your Son Bit My Son", My Reaction In 3 Parts

The Shock

This morning I was approached my a lady I hadn’t seen before who asked me if I was BB’s mum and then told me BB had bitten her son the day before. 

This seemed feasible since he often bites in frustration at home and he bit someone at nursery for the first time the week before. While I recognised it could well be true I was also surprised because the nursery hadn’t mentioned it (unlike the week before). So somewhat surprised (and still half asleep) I apologised.

A toddler with a silly grin who bit another child in frustration
Does this look like the face of a child who would bite? Yes probably

The lady went on to describe how bad the bite was, there is bruising and blood apparently. I suspect my face mask blocked most of my facial expressions in response to this and I’m not very eloquent when tired or blindsided by something. It felt like she wanted me to say something more so maybe she didn’t think I was taking it seriously. I was, but I also recognise there is little I (or any parent) can do when we aren’t actually there.

I spoke to nursery staff to ask if he had bitten someone the day before and they said he had. They are watching him more carefully, recognise that each incident has been due to frustration at not getting his own way and they have spoken to him about how it is wrong. It sounds like the biting wasn’t entirely unprovoked, but obviously it’s not an acceptable response. It is a fairly common response in young children though.

The Anger

Having spoken to nursery and been satisfied that they and I are doing what we can, I went home, but then I started to get annoyed. What did she expect me to do or say? Nursery didn’t tell her who had done it so she must have got information from her son about who did it, what happened and then got him to point us out. She had had since lunchtime the previous day knowing what happened, she gave me a few seconds to process it. While her 2 or 3 year old must be able to talk quite well, mine wouldn’t be able to tell me if he had bit someone the day before so it’s reasonable that I should speak to adults who were actually there before responding. Toddlers aren’t known for their reporting skills.

Plus even at the best of times I require some mental processing time. Is it appropriate to confront the parent of a child who hurts yours at nursery? Shouldn’t that be a conversation with and through the nursery staff? What did she want from me?

The Acceptance

This afternoon my son has been an arse. It’s Wednesday which means we go to school for pick up, home, back to school for Karate, home, then back for Karate pick up. Today there was bad traffic and my son had had enough. He was bored, had missed dinner due to the traffic and was generally fed up. He didn’t want to go in the car, he didn’t want to go in the pushchair, he wanted to sit in the school flowerbed. I couldn’t get him to do what I wanted at all. My response if I bumped into her again at that point would be: “sorry, but I don’t seem to have any ability to control my son. Nothing I can do”.

It’s probably a good thing I have never seen her before and that it’s nearly the end of term or she might be reporting me to social services!

Now I’m crossing my fingers and hoping that no one takes any toys off my son, refuses to let him in the playhouse or generally does something he isn’t happy with. With just a couple of weeks until summer holidays I am hoping, like most children, he grows out of it over the summer as his talking improves. Otherwise I might have to look into if it’s acceptable to muzzle a toddler.

Advice if your child is biting others in frustration:

  • Don’t panic, it is a common occurrence in children who can’t communicate their feelings very well and it normally stops as their language develops. 
  • Explain to them they mustn’t do it, that it hurts and encourage them to apologise.
  • Teach them other strategies for difficult situations like putting their hands up or shouting “help” so that an adult can come over and help with the situation.
  • Punishing children is unlikely to help because they aren’t intentionally being naughty; they have temporarily lost control. This is different to when children bite and then laugh or seem to be doing it for other reasons.

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