My toddler just came home from daycare with his third bite injury in a month. I know there is a child there who is biting other children. The first time it happened, the daycare didn't notice or have it recorded. His shoulder was bruised for days. Yesterday, he had two bites, one on his arm - one on his face over his eye. They did record this in the accident book and tell me. What rights do I have here? I know these things happen but what protocols should be in place to avoid this happening in the future - as I a) do not want my son to keep getting injured and b) don't want him to think it's okay to bite other children/people because “Charlie” from daycare does it. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Toddlers have small vocabularies and big feelings. This makes biting a “useful” strategy for them and painful for everyone else.
As a parent, you’re right to worry about your son’s well-being and the quality of his care. State licensing governs the rules around notification: legally, you should be promptly informed any time your child is injured at daycare. You do have the option to contact your state licensing board regarding the lack of notification. Based on these same licensing rules, however, centers may not disclose which child is the biter. As a parent, I’m sure you can understand why.
This may be a good opportunity to build friendly communication between you, the teaching staff, and the daycare director. Be aware that teachers are often nervous about notification because some parents respond with anger and accusations. Ask the teachers to share with you the classroom strategies that they use prevent biting. These should include: a teacher shadowing the child who is biting; identifying the signs or situations in which the child may bite; increasing the vocabulary of the child who is biting; and increasing the physical distance between children. Teachers should always give children clear feedback (“no bite!”). After comforting the hurt child, the teacher should then also guide the biter in making an age-appropriate apology.
Even in the best toddler settings, biting happens. It is more likely, however, when there are not enough adults present. Unfortunately, typical state licensing ratios of one teacher for seven toddlers makes careful monitoring and individual attention very difficult.
The good news is that biting is generally a transitional strategy: it usually only lasts a few months while the biter gains verbal and emotional regulation skills. Be aware that most children try out biting, even when they have not been bitten themselves. To reduce the likelihood of your child biting, use your words to help him identify his feelings (“You are frustrated!” or “So mad!”) When he does bite, help him build a sense of empathy. (“Biting hurts! Say sorry.”)