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2 year old biting suspended from school

  • 1.  2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-16-2020 11:05 PM
    I am in a unique situation, I am a preschool teacher and a mother of twins. One of my twins is a biter, and the directors have asked that he "take a break" from the program. In other words, he's suspended from school. And for good reason. He has bitten 19 times in the 6 weeks he has been in school. He has left bruises, and broken skin. One family has left the program, citing him as the reason. He bit someone on the face Monday over a toy.

    He doesn't just bite at school either. He bites his twin, he bites me, older brother (9), dad, grandma ect. He bites both for frustration, and for affection. He bites for no apparent reason. He has literally taken a chunk out of his brother. He has bit me in his sleep.

    I have been working on his biting problem since he first started showing aggressive behavior at 6 months. I have talked to his pediatrician. I have gotten referrals to specialists to help, both behavioral therapy and a child psychologist and I have done so much research. So much of my blood sweat, sanity, and tears have gone into this issue with his biting.

    We have tried the conventional methods, get down on his level, use a firm voice to let him know biting hurts and it's not okay, offer a teething necklace, have him help the victim, have him shadowed (as best we can) in the classroom.

    The directors want me to come up with a solution, and all of the literature I have read, and the specialists and doctors I have talked to all say that it takes time to break and redirect these behaviors. Time, consistency, and repetition. I have no magic fix for this. It's not something I can make better overnight.

    Does anyone else have any suggestions? Is there anything else I can do? I'm so worried I'm going to loose my job because my kid has been expelled from school.


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    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Sacramento CA
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  • 2.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-17-2020 11:00 AM
    Hi Renee. I think it is important to remember that he is only two and that some of the biting is age appropriate behavior. How is his speech? Often times in my experience I have found that when a child doesn't have enough words to communicate they become more easily frustrated during more times of the day and then act out. It sounds like you are doing your best trying to manage the behavior. Has the school tried to meet with you about the behaviors or suggested anything? It is important to sit together and brainstorm ideas on how to manage the biting so there is consistency at home and at school. Another thing that may be useful is maybe having other items to help as calming mechanisms. It may take some time before he learns how to use them but maybe once he does it will help lower the number of times he is biting. Some of those would be using a "safe area" where there are calming toys such story books (books that feature him might be the most helpful) little windmills so he can blow on them or a breathing ball. Sensory bottles also work great as calm down tools. By the sounds of it you have tried so much and you're doing a great job trying to figure out how to best help your child. I wish you all the best in continuing to find methods or ideas that work for your little one.

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    Cynthia Sharp
    Early Childhood Education Specialist
    Nebraska Education Telecommunications
    Lincoln NE
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  • 3.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-18-2020 08:48 AM

    Renee:

    I don't know if this helps you but you are in good company.  One of the top 3 reasons our program gets calls from centers is to help children who are biting and at risk for expulsion.  One thing I try to impress on adults is that often, for the child, biting is the same as hitting is for another child.  They are doing it with their mouth instead of their hands,  Unfortunately, teeth do a lot more damage than hands.

    I hope that the teachers have documented when the bites take place--who, what time, what was happening in the room right before, etc.  That may give clues as to whether there is something that is stressful for him in the environment and when he might need extra adult support.  Transition times?  When the room gets noisier?  When a child comes close to him?  When a teacher speaks loudly?  Of course--there may be no pattern.

    That is really a lot of bites and I feel for your child, other children, teachers, the other parents, and you.  I assume that someone is shadowing him in the classroom.  Besides the good strategies that have been tried and that have already been suggested, I would try more oral sensory input.  If you (or they) consistently give him a teething toy, preferably a silicone one that he can bite hard on, it might help to give him the oral sensory input he might be seeking.  "You can bite this; no teeth on people."  Same message each time there is a bite or attempted bite.  And he should have free access to it throughout the day as it might be regulating for him.  You can get necklaces with silicone chew toys attached (break-away neck string for safety) on the big shopping website or Ark.

    If the center has access to an Early Childhood Mental Heath Consultant it may be helpful for them to come in, get to know your child and the classroom, and develop some strategies with he teachers and with you.

    Best of luck with this.  When my own was 2 he was both "The Biter" and got bitten and it's difficult on both ends.  Make sure you keep all of his strengths at the forefront and love him up. 



    ------------------------------
    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 4.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-19-2020 10:20 AM
    Thank you so much Aren Stone. Now that you mention it, our incident reports are lacking in the information you mentioned. We just have a what happened, what time, and first aid given. Maybe a better data gathering sheet would be beneficial.

    He does have several chew necklaces of varying firmness. It does seem to help and he does use them. The biting has decreased since he started at school. It was just these last two incidents that I believe tipped the scales. The bite on the face, and the other child leaving the program (ironically he was only ever bitten once, and it did not break skin).

    I'm hoping I can appeal the decision of his suspension.

    ------------------------------
    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Artenia Beast Academy of Play and Whimsy
    Sacramento CA
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  • 5.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-19-2020 09:57 AM
    He does have a speech delay. We have a referral for a speech therapist, and he has been evaluated, but he is still on the waiting list to receive services. They have met with me, but they have offered nothing in terms of suggestions or solutions. I love the idea of a safe space. When thinking about it, they don't really have an area for that in their classroom. We have something like that in my classroom when my kids get frustrated or overwhelmed. I work with the 3 year olds across the hall.

    ------------------------------
    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Artenia Beast Academy of Play and Whimsy
    Sacramento CA
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-18-2020 08:53 AM
    Hello Renee,
    Your post really touched me.  I'm saddened that your child has been expelled from school.  First of all, please give yourself and your children a HUGE hug.  You all need one and deserve one.  I refuse to refer to your one child as THE BITER - s/he is merely a child who bites right now as his/her means of communication.  That's what biting is, for a 2 year old.  It's a way to express their feelings, it's a way to meet a need that they have, and it's a way for them to get what they may want.  It's quick and effective for them.  What we adults need to do is to teach a child who is using biting to communicate - how to communicate in more appropriate and socially acceptable ways.  Your child has learned that biting works - when I bite, I get attention, when I bite, I get the object I desire, when I bite, I am expressing my feelings.  Each one of those results requires a slightly different TEACHING strategy. (Not a punishment for the behavior itself).  Your child needs to be taught substitute behaviors that get the results s/he is seeking.  And you're so right that it takes time, consistency, and patience.  You can't use any one strategy in all situations, and not all strategies work in each situation.  You referred to this as "aggression" and I'm wondering if it's always an act of aggression.  As an expression of anger, you can teach a child to stamp their feet when they're mad, or shout "I'm mad!"  If it's biting to get a toy - you can try to teach a child to use words to get what they desire.  And for a 2 year old, you might have to model or tell them the words to use - "Ask Johnny, 'Can I have that toy?'"
    I'm not sure if you are familiar with the Pyramid Model - it's a program for Early Childhood Programs that focuses on changing environments and teaching practices to address challenging behaviors. Here's their website:  https://challengingbehavior.cbcs.usf.edu/.
    Best wishes to you as you get past this difficult time.  You're not alone!

    ------------------------------
    Michelle Barnea
    Early Childhood Consultant
    Co-Facilitator NAEYC Early Childhood Consultants & Authors Interest Forum
    NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council Member
    Metuchen NJ
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  • 7.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-19-2020 10:31 AM
    Thank you Michelle Barnea. I love what you said. <3

    I guess the aggression I mentioned is more through the eyes of a mother. I see him hurt his twin all the time, and even try to hurt me when he is frustrated. Which as an educator I know is another means of communication.  As a mother, I just deal with it all day long.

    Thank you for the information on the pyramid model, I had never heard of that program before. Perhaps if I shared it with my directors and co-workers, they would feel like they have more tools and resources to help.

    ------------------------------
    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Artenia Beast Academy of Play and Whimsy
    Sacramento CA
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-18-2020 12:49 PM
    Cynthia has a good point about biting when a child doesn't have enough language to express his (angry/sad/happy) emotions.  If you have any concerns about this you should contact your local school district or (if he is under age 3) your state's Part C provider, which in California I think is called Early Start.  In Missouri, where I live, biting alone would not qualify you for these services, but we don't refuse anyone who requests an evaluation of their child. 

    You mentioned that you offered a teething necklace.  I suggest you try that, or other teething type toys, again.  You said that you've been keeping close to him.  Every time he bites (or moves to bite) bring the necklace to his mouth and SAY " we bite food and this, not people".  Additionally make sure his meals and snacks include crunchy foods.  The idea here is to give him lots of opportunities to bite into things that offer resistance.  You didn't say how old he is, but even for very young children you can offer things like crackers.  Older children can benefit from carrots and celery, chewy granola bars, meat or cheese sticks.  Another thing to consider is to use a battery operated toothbrush.  Sometimes the vibration satisfies the need for oral input as well. These things may take days or even weeks to become habits to replace biting.  Don't give up!

    I am not an Occupational Therapist, but many of them are trained to help with this sort of thing.  They can offer sensory strategies for biting.  I suspect he is seeking sensory input, especially since you mentioned that he will even bite when he is asleep.

    I know this is a difficult time in life, but remember that  children outgrow biting, often by replacing it with another socially acceptable  behavior like biting fingernails or chewing gum. Your son is lucky to have such an awesome mom. 

    This, too, will pass.  (Like a painful kidney stone.)  good luck.

    ChrisSchmidt, Special Instructor
    3101 Cherokee Street
    St Louis, MO  63118
    314-452-1931 (cell)
     
     
    This message may contain student health information which is protected according to HIPAA and other state and federal regulations. Only the intended recipient is allowed access to this information. If you have received it in error please contact mcdeam@gmail.com.





  • 9.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-19-2020 10:36 AM
    Thank you Chris Schmidt.

    I hadn't thought to offer crunchy foods. He does really love eating his waffles frozen. I'll have to try the toothbrush thing too.

    I have often wondered if it could be sensory seeking too. He is on a waiting list to see an occupational therapist as well.

    My mom always says that too. That it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

    ------------------------------
    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Artenia Beast Academy of Play and Whimsy
    Sacramento CA
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-18-2020 06:34 PM
    Hi Renee,

    I just joined the NAEYC and saw your post. I think it's wonderful that you have tried so many different approaches to help your son, even if they have not worked, at least you have that information. There is one thing I want to suggest in case you might have not tried it yet. I am a Health Coach and have read about how processed foods can affect behavior in children. I have experienced this myself with my own children before becoming a health coach and have seen very positive results after removing processed foods from our diet. One of the ingredients in processed foods are food dyes. Food dyes are used to enhance the color and appearance of processed foods. Some examples where you can find food dyes are in cheesy yellow chips, sports drinks, fruit drinks, colorful cereals,  and toothpaste, to name a few. You will see them labeled as Red #40, Yellow #5 and 6, Green #1 and 3, Blue #1. Studies have found that food dyes create emotional disruption in children, they have been linked to hyperactivity, aggression, irritability, and more. Food dyes are banned in many countries but not in the United States. There is a really good TED talk from Dr. Rebecca Bevans, a professor and researcher. She experienced the negative effects of food dyes with her son. I recommend you take a look at this and see if this might be something you might want to try with your son. You can do a search on The Effects Of Artificial Food Dyes | Dr. Rebecca Bevans | TEDxCarsonCity. I hope this helps.

    Gina Evangelista
    Certified Educator
    Integrative Nutrition Health Coach
    Orlando, FL

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    Gina Evangelista
    Orlando FL
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  • 11.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-19-2020 10:48 AM
    Thank you, I'll definitely check that out. I haven't seen the TED talk. My neighbors son has ADHD and even though he is an adult now, they still avoid food dyes, sugar, and processed foods.  That was one of the first things she recommended.

    I will say we don't really eat that stuff anyways. We have a dairy allergy, and that prevents a lot of those things. We don't eat cereal or cheesy anything. We don't do juice or sports drinks or soda. I have them using the Toms Training toothpaste still, which is additive and dye free.  We also don't do fruit snacks.

    ------------------------------
    Renee Grace
    Teacher
    Artenia Beast Academy of Play and Whimsy
    Sacramento CA
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: 2 year old biting suspended from school

    Posted 01-20-2020 06:50 PM
    What excellent suggestions have been proffered. Given my classroom experience I'd like to add just one more.

    Before I do I'd like to remind that any challenging behaviors take time for us to handle. We have a choice about that time - to either implement strategies before to thwart the behavior or to take the required time after because of the afters. I always vote for being on the offense, for investing upfront and before.

    Biting is among the most repugnant of behaviors, I think most will agree. It takes vigilance to be present to stop it before it happens. Young children bite for many reasons, most of which are related to not yet having the language and communication skills needed. The response to Bite One is usually huge. So, it is also rewarding to bite. This is where your data gathering to learn the precursor/s is valuable.

    I suggest staying VERY close to the youngster who so needs our support in order to learn an otherwise. Frankly you're gonna have to stick close anyway to gather the data for determining what causes S to need to bite. Narrate what you see happening, model the language. If you are talking you can be the youngster's voice, saying what they need said. Also you can be smoothing the way for them. I'd even add give that youngster some preference for access and turns to reduce possible frustration. "Sweetie, it looks like you want to play with / have the ___ that HoneyBun is enjoying."
    You'll get some sort of response to know if you are assessing what you are seeing correctly.
    "You can ask Honeybun for a turn. You can ask HB if his turn is almost over or if he needs more time."
    Pause. Give opportunity for Sweetie to speak and if that is beyond S's ability, you can ask if S would like you to ask for her or talk for him.
    Once you know the anticipated duration for HB's turn, you can then give S some choices.
    "Sweetie, HoneyBun isn't quite done yet. Would you like to play with - offer an alternative - while you wait? What else could you with while you wait? Would you simply like to stay here and wait until HB is finished?"
    A redirect is not always necessary as frankly waiting is legitimate.
    "HB, S is waiting for a turn. Don't forget you said you are almost finished and waiting is hard to do."
    There is also redirection for HB so as to give S a preference as waiting may be a serious precursor.
    "HB, would you like to - pick something here you are pretty derned sure HB would like to do - and give S the ___ now?"

    You have to know that when I give a suggestion it is something I have done, usually done often, so I do understand the investment of time, energy, and vigilance required.

    If I were you I'd try every single thing suggested.
    and I plead: PLEASE let us know what you learn and how it goes.

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    Mary Wonderlick
    co facilitator
    At Risk & Special Needs Interest Forum
    Chicago IL
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