3 tips if your child is being bit. 3 more if your child is the biter.
Doc Smitty looks at what can be done about biting at day cares.
What would you do if you brought your child home from a new day care and he had more than 20 bite marks all over his body?
What if you then found out that you had been lied to about that day care’s license?
In fact, they didn’t have a license at all.
Fortunately cases like this are rare.
But what about a more common case where your child is bitten once or a few times at day care? What if your child is the one who is biting?
I reviewed the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services Minimum Standards for Child-Care Centers. Here is what I found:
- Parents should be notified about minor injuries when the child is picked up from day care (biting is included in this category).
- Relevant ongoing education is required for employees (and specifically mentions biting).
- Decisions about child/caregiver ratio must take into account situations where there are tricky situations. For biting, it suggests that a caregiver be assigned with training in redirection or that an extra caregiver be assigned.
- Biting is specifically prohibited as a means of discipline for a child (day care workers cannot use the old “just bite them back” techniques for biting).
What can you do?
Three tips if your child is being bit:
- If it’s a one-time thing, try your best to let it go. I know this is hard but biting does happen and can happen in the blink of an eye even in very closely supervised environments.
- If you start to notice bites over time, mention your concerns and assess what the day care is doing to prevent the issue.
- If the bites are severe or very frequent, I would feel very confident suggesting that your child’s day care follow the steps as outlined in the Child Care Guidelines. This might mean that the day care needs a specialized or extra caregiver for the “problem” room.
Three tips if your child is the biter:
- Do not feel guilty. Sometimes the day care will make it seem like your parenting is the problem. The reality is that you cannot do anything at home to teach a toddler to not bite at day care. Discipline in the toddler age does not work that way.
- Discuss your child’s triggers with the day care. Biting usually occurs in predictable situations for children. You might be able to help them prevent biting in the first place.
- Learn what works to distract your child. Children need to be distracted when they are biting. It’s clear from studies that direct punishment does not work well with toddlers. Teach the day care what strategies they can use.
Justin Smith, M.D., is a Cook Children's pediatrician in Lewisville . He attended University of Texas, Southwestern Medical School and did his pediatric training at Baylor College of Medicine. He joins Cook Children's after practicing in his hometown of Abilene for four years. He has a particular interest in development, behavior and care for children struggling with obesity. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with his 3 young children, exercising, reading and writing about parenting and pediatric health issues.