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Parents, nip biting in the bud

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POSTED: February 11, 2014 2:00 p.m.

My 21-month-old daughter, Reese, is sweet, gentle and trusting. My husband and I have gone to great lengths to teach her not to express her emotions through toddler-like acts of violence — hitting, kicking and biting. As a result, she’s mild-mannered and happy-go-lucky. So, it’s easy to understand why I’d be particularly aggravated at the fact another child at Reese’s day care seems to be working hard to undo all of our teachings.
Reese has been bitten three times in the past four months, and my husband and I suspect it’s the same little boy doing the chomping. Although it is the day care’s policy not to disclose a biter’s identity (so parents don’t confront each other), Reese is old enough to tell us who is hurting her.
My husband picked her up from day care Monday night and found she had a bloody bite mark on her nose. Yes, another child bit my little girl in the face. The face! Needless to say, I was livid and concerned that the biting incidents are escalating. The previous two bites were on Reese’s arms. The mark is healing, but what if it had been worse? What if it had left a scar?
Being a semi-dramatic, easily perturbed, first-time mom, I made the decision to call Reese’s day-care director. Before doing so, however, I asked Reese at least 10 times who had been biting her. I wanted to be certain about the aggressor’s identity before I logged a complaint.  Around the ninth or 10th time, she must have gotten tired of answering my question over and over, because she told me pizza bit her. I’m fairly certain, though, that even the spiciest Italian-sausage topping wouldn’t leave a mark like that.
I phoned the director Tuesday morning and expressed my concerns. I was polite but firm in my insistence that this child be dealt with. If our suspicions are correct and he has bitten Reese three times, surely there must be other victims in the classroom. The director acknowledged my worries and assured me she had spoken with the child (who, in my opinion, must not have understood much of what was said to him) and the child’s parents. Other than that, though, she said there wasn’t much she or the other teachers could do.
I got the “toddlers are always going to bite — that’s what they do” speech. And I understand that. Admittedly, biting is pretty common among little ones. But that knowledge did nothing to calm me when I saw my daughter’s wounded nose. And, let me be quick to point out, I did not call the day-care director the first two times Reese was bitten — I let those go. But a facial attack was too much to handle.
And in addition to being worried about Reese’s safety, I’m concerned about the bad habits she might pick up. As I said, my husband and I work hard to prevent such behavioral problems. I fear that if Reese is bitten often enough, she’ll begin to wonder why she’s told not to chomp on other kids, but they’re allowed to chomp on her. I’d hate to wind up with a biter of my own. As much as I dreaded contacting the daycare-center director to discuss this issue, I think I’d dislike it even more if I was the one getting calls about my child repeatedly hurting others in her class. One thing is for sure, though — if I was on the receiving end of such a call, I’d be embarrassed and concerned enough to address my child’s behavioral flaws and put an end to her biting. I just wish the parents of the little boy who is hurting my daughter would see things that way.

 

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