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Biting

  • 1.  Biting

    Posted 10-16-2018 04:47 PM
    What is the policy in Daycares when a child is continually biting?  It is a 2-year-old program.

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    AS
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  • 2.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-17-2018 08:35 AM
    First I would like to ask the age of the child.  If the child is under 2, it is more common so we find ways to work through the biting. If the child is over 2 it could be a language issue, and or trauma, and we would be meeting with the parents, provide the teachers with some appropriate strategies.  We have used a biting ring on a string for the child who is biting.  If you are wondering if we terminate, we would not at this time, however, if there is no support from the family, and the child is over the age of 3, and we have exhausted all of our resources and strategies then we may need to terminate.  Does this help?

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    Janet Mincks
    Training and Program Support Coordinator
    Encompass Early Education and Care
    Green Bay WI
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  • 3.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-17-2018 09:06 AM
    Our preschool first talks to the child about how biting hurts the other child and how they should use words to tell their classmate what is bothering them.  We read the book "Teeth are not for biting" and send the book home with the parents as well.  We let the parents know that biting can be just like pushing or hitting and children are just trying to express frustrations.  This child needs to be helped to find ways to use their words, to know that biting hurts their classmate, and that they need to use their words to let the child know what is bothering them whether it be sharing a toy or just sitting too close, we model words for them to use.

    Our school policy is that if a child that bites in the classroom a second time they will leave class immediately.  Their parents come to take them home for the rest of the day.  We try to stress to both the parents and the child that biting is not allowed and that they need to work with their child on using their words.  Missing their classmates and time at school in most cases is a big motivator and we rarely see biting happen again, then again we are watching the child more closely and step in when we see they may be frustrated and again model words they can use.

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    Jennifer Reinhart
    Preschool Director
    Emmanuel Lutheran Preschool
    Vienna VA
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  • 4.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-17-2018 03:46 PM
    There is no doubt that when children bite it upsets everyone. The child, the families and the educators. However, at age 2, even when children have some language skills, they may not be able to find the words when they need to express their feelings or frustration. Biting may be their only way to let another child know that they are too close or maybe have something they want or even letting the other child know it is not okay to take something from them.

    Take a look at the environment - Is there enough physical space for each activity, is your program developmentally appropriate and what is the social climate. Are you helping all the children develop their social skills? When a child bites another child, focus on the child who has been bitten, let the other child get some ice and help make it better as you let them know that biting is not okay.

    In my opinion, expulsion/termination is never the answer. We are teachers and, therefore, our job is to teach children appropriate ways to meet their needs. The first step is to determine what those needs are.  Does the child want to obtain an object or your attention? Maybe the attention of the other child. Does the child want to escape a task or situation? Maybe the child is finding the classroom or the activity overwhelming, noisy or chaotic. You need to observe the child and record the antecedents/triggers and the maintaining consequences. It is not just about stopping the behavior, it is also about teaching new skills. The function or need behind the behavior is very real to the child. It is the means that s/he is using to meet that need that is the problem.

    There really is no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to responding to any form of challenging behavior. But we all have to remember that if the child is repeatedly using the same inappropriate behavior to meet his or her needs, the message is that the behavior is working for the child. Our job is to teach an appropriate means of meeting those needs that is just as efficient and effective.

    And, don't forget to talk to the family. Is this happening at home? What do they do? How can you work together to figure out why the child is biting.


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    Barbara Kaiser
    Co-author
    Challenging Behavior in Young Children and Meeting the Challenge
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  • 5.  RE: Biting

    Posted 11-05-2018 12:01 PM
    I couldn't agree more! Thank you for this response. Expulsion or punishment is not the answer. Look for emotions. It can be an emotional response and not just to anger, over excited and too much stimulation can be reasons to bite if a child doesn't have the language to tell someone what they are experiencing.
    Be calm, comfort the hurting child, and calmly talk about feelings with the biter.

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    Mary Merren
    Baker College
    Clinton Twp MI
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  • 6.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-18-2018 01:45 AM
    I agree 100% with Barbara. It is very typical for infants and toddlers to bite. Biting is a normal, yet unpleasant, phases that most children go through. It is instinctual - fight or flight - and  early care and education centers should expect to provide learning experiences related to biting. It is unfair, and in my mind, unacceptable, to send home or terminate a child for doing what children are expected to do.  Early care and education centers should understand that just like any other developmental stage, it may take some children longer to master the "no biting" expectation than others , Likewise, different children will need different instructional methods to help teach them alternative ways to cope in situations where they are biting. But children bit for different reasons and each reason calls for a different type of response. A child who bites out of frustration needs to learn alternate coping skills, a child who bites when teething may need teether, a child who bites when an ear infection is brewing may need a trip to the doctor, a child who bites for attentions may respond to a social story. A teether for an attention seeker is not going to do the trick.  Biting signifies that a child is having a difficult time with something, and it is the job of the early childhood professional to work to figure out what is causing the child the stress and how to help the child work through it. That is what the early childhood teachers are hired and paid to do. It is a hard job, but that is the choice we make when we enter this field.

    Ask yourself this:
    What is your center policy if a child is still crawling at 12 months?
    What is your center policy if a child is only using 10 words at 20 months?
    What is your center policy if a child is biting?
    What is your center policy if a child is having bathroom accidents at 40 months?
    What is your center policy if a child is using a fisted pencil grasp at 48 months?

    The policy for promoting developmental progress is proper used of a comprehensive, evidence based curriculum. Since no curriculum is perfect, you will quite possibly need to have more than one evidence based curriculum and I would encourage that your second curriculum is a comprehensive infant-preschool evidenced based social emotional curriculum.  We understand that child development is a continuum and different children progress at different time frames. We expect some variability in student growth and need to recognize when a behavior falls within/outside of the norm. We need to know where to refer the family to for resources if the child falls significantly outside the norm. We understand that different children learn in different ways and we need to use a variety of teaching styles. We know that children learn through repetition, repetition, repetition. We Assess, Plan, Instruct, Assess,  Plan, Instruct (reteach), Assess, and on and on. Biting is no different.

    Social - emotional skills need to be taught, just like every other type of skills. For some children we need to break them into much smaller pieces and intentionally teach social skills that other children just seem to pick up naturally.  Children, just like adults, use the tools they have to accomplish an end result. They may not be the best tools, but they will keep using them until they find a better tool for the job. Biting is an effective tool, but we can teach them other equally successful techniques to replace it.

    The policy should be to carefully record the events to look for information and patterns that can help you understand what may be causing a child to bite: teething, sensory seeking, getting sick, frustration, difficulty with a peer (I can't tell you how many times I have consulting on "biting" cases to observe the biter use multiple other techniques to communicate to a peer to back off, and the other child pushes forward, gets bit, and then cries - the"bully"becomes the victim and gets the reward while the one who used a variety of coping skills first gets punished.) The parents should be keep informed, listened to, and play a role in the behavior intervention plan (regardless of if it is a simple plan or a more comprehensive plan).

    Suspension and expulsion from child care has lasting negative effects on children and families. Some parents could lose jobs if they miss work. The stigma of being a "bad kid" starts early, especially when the consequences have long term negative effects on parents who in turn become more stressed and may begin to see their child as a burden rather than a little human who is trying to learn how to navigate this complicated world. Suspension/Expulsion should be reserved for very serious offenses such as intentional violence, serious threats, weapons, or drugs.



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    Stephanie Adrihan
    Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
    West Allis WI
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  • 7.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-18-2018 08:53 AM
    I completely agree with the advice given on biting about working with the child and family and trying to figure out the triggers. However I'm curious to know how you would handle the situation while at the same time you have several families threatening to leave the school unless the biter is removed from the class/school. Even with educating all the families their patience wears very thin when their child has been bitten more that 1 or 2 times.

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    Sydney Berlin
    Parkland FL
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  • 8.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-18-2018 10:45 AM
    Firstly let me say that the responses you have received from Barbara Kaiser and Stephanie are most helpful and Barbara's book is the basis of what I have used for  behaviour policy and practise for many years. In her book, the behaviour analysis is vital and gives you the FUNCTION of the behaviour: Is it sensory? Is it frustration? Is it the child's need for more connection when his/her wellbeing is under stress? Are they avoiding? Are they coping with the program?
    Please do not tell a child to 'use their words' when the child is not coping. Give the child the words s/he needs - guide them. Even when normally language competent when a child is in the red zone (Stuart Shanker's fantastic work on self regulation), they are just surviving and the brain is disconnected from language when stressed  it does not process language nor is it able to find the words the child needs. It is important to support the child (a la Circle of Security) and only when teach/discuss strategies with the child when s/he is calm is s/he able to use rational thinking.
    Sometimes this is very challenging for the teacher when the child has hurt yet another child and once again you have to inform both sets of parents.
    2 year olds are so young,  they are unlikely to have good language skills and the social skills for many are just emerging. They are also less likely to have reliable emotional skills such as conflict resolution.
    There are so many complex and interactive factors when a child bites that is sometimes very difficult for a teacher to be able to observe the child for the extended time that is needed.
    Complete a time/frequency observation to assess when the child is most likely to bite or bite/hurt and If possible, ask for a behavioural consultant/specialist to spend 2-3 hours observing your child during that critical time. Videoing the child is really helpful as it will help you see what are the child's triggers and warning signs as well as the Educator's responses. Responses to the behaviour will either exacerbate or calm the child
    I agree with  Barbara - that expulsion is almost never the answer. However I have seen some parents withdraw a child when the staff are unable to protect their child. sometimes this is a vital part of the management plan. As I said, this is such a complex issue.
    When you really know the child and you can predict when the child is becoming stressed and losing their self regulation, you can intervene very early - before the child "loses it" and redirect or guide the child towards successful interaction and before they bite.
    Make sure the team is all working on the same strategies
    When it's tough share the load with your team.
    Read Barbara Kaiser
    Read Stuart Shanker
    Read Circle of Security. They are all so helpful

    Good luck.


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    Sandra Fisher
    MECh, BEdSt, Dip ECE
    Sydney, NSW
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  • 9.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-18-2018 04:43 PM
    Many Centers have their own policy regarding biting.  Unfortunately it's common in a 2 year old room as most children do not have verbal skills and emotional understanding of how to communicate with their peers.  There are many books to read to children about biting.  You can also talk about and make picture books on what we can and can not bite/do with our teeth...........bite an apple, brush them, smile, don't bite friends, animals, or books.
    Teachers should also observe the who,what,when and possible why the biting is happening. Then they can help the children work through....giving words to help them handle the situation without biting.  It will not stop overnight.

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    Nannette Sago
    Director
    Community Childcare Learning Center
    Moberly MO
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  • 10.  RE: Biting

    Posted 10-18-2018 05:13 PM
    Biting is  behavior. It is learned. It works for a child in a limited way, and often causes them what they experience as problems if not frightening consequences: adults upset with them, children biting back, crying children getting the best attention. If it continues it may be being reinforced some way like getting them what they want with siblings at home. However, it may just be the level of fear and anxiety the child regularly experiences.I see some of the suggestions noticing that issue. When a child response with fight or flight behaviors, they are impulsive, not thought out, and usually ineffective. We need to help them calm themselves when they're anxious. That means assessing what they are insecure about. It could be as general as anxious attachment. It could be that they aren't confident in their abilities so that any demand will need to be turned into a calm teaching moment. This is not an easy discussion and we need to think clearly about it.

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    Jack Wright
    Success With Children
    St Ignatius MT
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