Q&A: My 2 Year Old is Biting at Day Care

blockquote_bgI need to know how to handle my two year old when she is biting at day care. The owner of the center is threatening to remove her if this problem continues.

Biting is a very common behavior in toddlers and really, among developmentalists is considered a “typical” though challenging behavior or stage that some (not all) children go through. We do often hear of children being pulled from day cares, sometimes due to the pressure of the parents of the children who were bitten. But, a good developmental day care, should know how to deal with the behavior (as challenging as it can be in a group setting) and help remedy it, along with the parent of the child who is doing the biting. These are links to two articles (biting and why bite) that is already appear our web page related to biting and how to handle it.

I would suggest reading the above articles and then planning a time to sit down with your child’s day care teachers and discuss yours and their concerns so that you can both get on the same page regarding this behavior. You and your day care staff need to figure out when and why the biting is occurring: Is she tired, is she frustrated, is she angry another child took a toy away, is she upset someone is too close to her? Is this behavior only occurring at day care? Is it happening only in the presence of a certain caregiver? Are there certain children being bitten or is it random?

There is a reason behind a bite that most children cannot verbally communicate. Many day care centers do not have adequate staff to always “shadow” a biting child, however, if for a few weeks they are able to have a worker “shadow” your child and intervene BEFORE a bite occurs, this can be helpful. You need to all be dealing with biting in the same way and the second article tells you ways to do this. One thing you never ever do is bite the child back to teach them a lesson.

If your child is age appropriate in receptive and expressive language, you may want to give her something to carry with her when she feels that need/urge to bite, like a soft rubber toy or chew tube ( the chew tube is a therapy tool used by speech/OT) and tell her things like “It is ok to be mad, but you may NOT bite people” or “You may bite on this, you may not bite your friends/Susie/Mommy). Some children actually have an oral need or fixation to bite or chew things, but this is a special circumstance and my not at all apply to your child.