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My Toddler Bites: A Parent Confession and Apology

My Toddler Bites: A Parent Confession and Apology

At child care pick-up a few days ago, my husband received the dreaded incidence report. We are used to these. We get at least one a week about the multiple bumps and bruises from our accident-prone toddler. But this one was different. This one stated that my toddler son bit another child.

This did not surprise me, but it broke my heart. I know that biting is a normal toddler behavior and often a way for toddlers to express themselves, to react to a frustration, a result of teething or even simply a way to explore their world. And Owen is going through all of these right now — teething, easily frustrated and showing his feelings through actions. But I can’t help but feel that here is my sweet little baby and he hurt another child.

As a mom, I’d much rather get the report that Owen was bit by another child. This I can rationalize and chalk up to the typical toddler behaviors described above. Being on the other side of the biting incident stresses me out. And the fact that I am an outsider to it is frustrating. If we were at a play date, I would be taking an active role in redirecting the biting behavior, apologize to the parent and even share a laugh over the craziness of this toddler phase.

I wish I could apologize to the parents. I wish I could show them how we are working on this behavior and watching for signs of it turning into a bigger biting problem. I wish we could share a laugh together about toddlerhood. Then, I could stop stressing out inside about the biting incidence and treat it as it is — normal toddler behavior.

Because I can’t do it in person (the incidence report doesn’t share this information), I am globally apologizing to all those parents whose toddler was bitten by another child. Know that we feel terribly that our child caused your child pain. Know that the teachers are doing their best to prevent this and working with us to curb this behavior. And know that my child is really sweet — at most times.

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14 comments

  1. Kris-Ann, Progressive Mom

    ProgressiveMom July 18, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    I had the biter too…it was a long process, but ended eventually. With my son, it was partially boredom. He did it in Infants when he was ready to go to Toddlers, and again when he was ready to go to PS. It was rough and I felt just like you do wanting to apologize to everyone. Hopefully the other parents are understanding and your teachers are good at handling the situation from both sides.

  2. Mary

    Organized Mom July 18, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    My son was a bitter too. My daughter was the one being bitten. Just try to remind yourself why you said you wish you were on the other side “you could chalk it up to typical toddler behavior”. With any luck the other parent is doing just that and I’m sure the teachers are helping to explain this. This too shall pass.

  3. Media Mom

    MediaMom July 19, 2013 at 3:36 pm

    My son did his fair share of biting too, and for a couple of moths I thought it would never end. But it did. It’s embarrassing and frustrating, but also part of toddlerhood.

  4. Amy

    Amy July 22, 2013 at 5:28 pm

    Thanks moms! It’s helpful to know I am not alone and this, too, shall pass. Just let’s get it over with already.

  5. Hunter'sMom July 25, 2013 at 12:05 am

    My child was bitten twice, really bad, before he was one. Being a first time parent, I was quite traumatized by this event but handled it very professionally with my wonderful daycare. I am so glad I did, because several months later my child became the biter. It was frequent and so frustrating. I wondered what I was doing wrong. I consulted with my pediatrician and he comforted me by letting me know this was normal for some children and usually resulted from boredom or frustration. He felt in my case that my child was frustrated that he could not verbally communicate what was going on inside. He thought it would clear up once he started talking. Around age two when he was talking a lot, it just stopped. But believe me I understand the frustration of not knowing who your child bit so you could apologize. Sometimes I felt like parents knew and perhaps were looking down on my parenting skills. It is very tough have a high energy child, those with calm children have no idea.

  6. Amy

    Amy July 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

    “Sometimes I felt like parents knew and perhaps were looking down on my parenting skills.” This is so true, Hunter’s Mom. I’m glad to know this is a normal feeling. And I totally agree with you about parent’s of calm children not being able to relate. Both my kids are high energy and I remember going on vacation with another family when my older daughter was little. I just felt like such a bad parent when she was throwing a tantrum while the other children were sitting nicely eating their dinner. I’ve gotten over it now because I know that kids come in all shapes and temperaments and my older daughter is still passionate and independent which is a becoming a great quality as she matures.

  7. Kelly Even August 7, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    My son starting biting at 17 mos. He’s 2 1/2 and he still bites. It’s been over a year. Earlier this year, we’ve already experienced the embarrassment of having an incident report at the gym. We had a few months of non biting and I thought we were done. Now he’s starting it up again. The first time he bit last year, the mom asked me if my son was up-to-date on his shots. Any other time the mom has been understanding. I’m so embarrassed and frustrated. I’m so stressed from watching him like a hawk in public areas. Back in Jan., my pediatrician just said it’s a phase and reinforce that it’s bad. I’ve tried time-outs, touching his teeth and saying no biting, and even biting him back (not too hard though). I’m a stay-at-home mom, so luckily we don’t have to worry about childcare. But, I’m part of a mom’s club and am worried about playgroups. In the past month, he’s bitten at least 4 times. I can’t believe how my 5 1/2 yr old daughter doesn’t hold a grudge from all the biting she’s had to deal with over this past year. Everyone tells me to be patient. Part of me just wants to keep him home to avoid being around other kids. I can handle his sister being bit. But the other part says he needs to learn that biting is bad when he’s with other kids. When I see the biting or when his sister tells me she was bit, I put him in time-out right away. But when I don’t see it and am told about it later, I don’t know if my son will understand the time-out because it’s not occurring right after the bite. He only bites when he wants something someone else has or if someone is bothering him. He doesn’t go after adults. We do make him apologize to his sister. It’s just that it’s now been 13 months of on and off biting and I just don’t know what else I can do.

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  9. Luarna Duncan September 1, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    I love this letter. Sadly my little boy is getting bitten by the same child (toddler room). I understand it’s normal toddler behaviour and I actually would feel horrible if he was biting too.
    I’ve found a few books to donate to the child care centre on biting and I’m worries they maybe offended (we all worry to much).
    Thank you for this post, I really enjoyed reading it x

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  12. Profile photo of Amy

    Amy August 7, 2018 at 10:57 am

    My child has been bitten 4 times in 6 weeks – these aren’t minor nips, she has missing skin and bruises showing an entire mouth of teeth (including on her face) that last for several days. Even thought the classroom caregivers have not denied it, the center director is refusing to acknowledge that it is one child doing the biting and that it has been going on for months claiming it is “confidential” – we were told before my daughter transitioned into the toddler room 2 months ago that the room had a biter, and they have since tried to split the room into smaller groups to no avail.

    I get that any kid can bite, and that it can be normal – and I feel for the parents of a biter. But this has been going on for a long time, the bites are aggressive and unprovoked and none of what the center is doing seems to be helping.

    I object to the fact that the center refuses to confirm it is a single child biting and that multiple children have been bitten (I’ve observed the discussions with other parents so I know this to be true). How can parents evaluate the steps being taken when we are not told the truth about what is happening? This cloak and dagger nonsense is inappropriate.

    I may seem unsympathetic, but I pay a lot of money for my child to be in a safe environment – I’m losing faith that she is getting what we pay for. I was told yesterday that its an opportunity for all the children to learn – effectively blaming the victims for not saying “no”. I get that kids at the toddler age are lacking communication skills and biting can be their outlet. But it can also be a sign of a problem. Can someone tell me when enough is enough as far as Bright Horizons is concerned?

    • Profile photo of Amy

      Amy August 17, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      Why is Bright Horizons refusing to permit my post?

      Since I posted the last entry, I’ve learned at least one other child in the classroom has been bitten 4 times in the same period of time by the same child. That’s 8 bites (that we know of) in about 6 weeks and the Center refuses to take action – parents of both victims were told their children were being taught to say “no” – clearly inappropriate to blame the victims, unlikely to solve the problem (they’re one-not exactly adept at using their words), and inadequate to deal with the cause of the situation – the biter.

      I’m not sure what’s worse, the center’s refusal to take action to protect the children in its care, or Bright Horizons’ refusal to even post these comments.

      • Profile photo of Lindsay

        Lindsay August 21, 2018 at 1:25 pm

        Hi Amy. We’re sorry to hear about your experience and for our delay in responding – your comment was in an approval queue that we check every so often. We have shared this with the center’s Regional Manager and she will be reaching out to you directly. If you have any concerns in the meantime, feel free to send us an email at communities@brighthorizons.com.

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