Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Biting. Again. And Again.

Charlie continues to bite at daycare.

They have started implementing an “action plan” which consists of writing her up whenever she does it “due to the length of time this behavior has been going on” and having me sign the paper when I pick her up. I fear this is the first step to kicking her out of school.

Other parts of the action plan include having her wear a teething ring on her wrist, having her wear a pacifier on her shirt and giving that to her when she bites (I doubt that will work… she has never had a pacifier and didn’t like it when I tried to switch her to one at 9 months).

The school is kind to me and explains in an understanding tone, but my anxiety shoots up anyway.

If I had to take her out of this school, I’d just have to put her in another… nothing much would change as far as her biting goes until she just grows out of it. So changing schools seems pointless for Charlie. I get the school’s point…. They can’t have kids being bitten frequently.

I don’t know what else to try. I have tried:

- giving her a daily morning reminder not to bite, and a daily verbal praise when I pick her up if she hasn’t bitten anyone all day

- sharply saying “no!’ when she bites me, and putting her in time out

- fake crying when she bites me to show her it hurts

- swatting her diapered bum once when she bit me so hard and it was an instinctive reaction to the pain. I also yelled out

- the school puts her in “cool down” (a version of time out) whenever she does it. They also tell her “no, that hurts” and make her hug the kid as an apology afterwards.

I have NOT tried:

- -biting her back. I hear mixed reviews of this. Some say it works instantly. Others say it’s hypocritical and abusive.

- - a behavioral chart. I wonder if she is too young to understand what that is…. Also, I’d have to get the school to do most of the rewards. She could get an M& M or sticker for every hour she doesn’t bite. It’s a lot of extra work for the staff and I wonder if they’d be willing to do it… Hmm… I think she just might "get it" if it was done on an hourly basis. A daily basis is too long for her age. I’m a total behaviorist as I know it works with the dogs and has worked in many ways with Charlie already… the chart would be a way to reward her when I’m not around. The punishment then becomes a lack of reward if she bites. No sticker.

The teachers say it happens at seemingly random times. Sometimes when she is wanting a toy. Sometimes when she is being affectionate. Sometimes there seems to be no precursor or reason.

Any advice moms? I’m at the end of my rope here. Between her illness and her biting, not a day goes by when I’m not tense and stressed out due to her. All the while, I’m falling deeply in love with her, which actually makes everything MORE important, urgent and all-consuming.

(Painting by Jon Baldwin)


Calmil2 said...

So, do you know the "A,B,C" approach? Basically it is trying to figure out why she is biting and what she gets out of it. You can actually come to the school with your own form and ask THEM to sign it :) When she bites they need to write down what was happening right before she bit. Then tell what was the consequence. Did she get the toy? Did she get to see another kid cry? Did she get someone to react? Did it feel good to her (could be a sensory reason)?
Then I would suggest trying to distract her when you know the bite may come. If she bites and waits for the reaction you try hard to not react. Just turn your back and go do something as if it didn't happen.
My son was a biter and it drove me CRAZY. The only thing that works was distraction, no reaction and time. E-mail me if you want to talk about it more.

Nobody said...

i don't have any suggestions, but i do sympathize with the "having behavior problems with your toddler" part. my own daughter has me at my wits end at the moment with her screaming tantrums. one lasted 4 hours last night. good luck!

J-momma said...

just my personal opinion but i think she's too young for a behavioral chart and delayed rewards. i don't even know a three year old who would get that. i worked in daycare. all the kids bite. yes, some more than others. but they aren't trying to be bad. they just don't have the words to express their frustration or emotion. sometimes they do it because they like the reaction they get. there's all sorts of reasons. in all my years in daycare i've never seen anything work other than just growing up. but it is annoying to deal with. some daycares will take younger kids who bite or hit and put them with a slightly older group of kids. that tends to end the problem. you have nothing to feel guilty about. it's a completely normal part of development. you haven't done anything wrong. give her lots of words to communicate different feelings. and tell the daycare to "stuff it" if they give you a hard time. all the kids do it whether they tell you or not. maybe they want you to feel guilty so you take her out yourself. who knows. but she will grow out of it.

Anonymous said...

We had the same problem with Nicholas. His teachers were concerned but said it's the age--they just do it. We would put him in the crib as soon as he bit and he hated not being mobile, so he knew that he had been "bad." It seems to work for awhile but then he occasionally relapses. He has mostly outgrown it, but I agree that it helps to prevent it in the first place (like stopping a fight over a toy because he might bite to get his way). Hang in there: hopefully it's just a phase and will pass. I would find out from the school, though, why they're doing this action thing and what the consequences might be...
I didn't bite him back, though apparently that's what my dad did to me and it worked...dcuz

Dana said...

A book that might help (I found out about it in my adiotuib trainging) is 1-2-3 Magic..... by Thomas Phelan. It deals w/ controlling obnoxious behavior and encouraging good behavior. Hope this helps.

Christie said...

I just started following your blog and look forward to reading back on your adoption journey. My husband and I are in the beginning stages of looking into Ethiopian adoption. Any advice, etc. would be greatly appreciated.


Kiki said...

As everyone already said, they all do it. Matthew did it until almost age 3! I think the way it stopped was he was put with older kids, like J-Momma suggested. The older kids "fight back" a bit and may push her off of them if she comes close and is heading in with fangs drawn. :-) Of course, then you'll go from the problem being biting to the new problem of pushing and hitting but they're all just stages. She'll grow out of it.
I think they have to write a report on it each time for legal reasons. I don't think it means they are trying to expell her. You should ask.
Good luck and don't let it get to you. They'll do things at every age that'll make you cringe a bit.

Michelle said...

One of my brother's was a biter. One day my mom bit him back...not as hard as he was biting, but hard enough to get his attention. He never bit again.
It's not a do as I say, not as I do kind of thing. It's a "see what it feels like to be biten" kind of thing. Of course, I guess it depends on a child's ability to empathize too.
I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this. You're not many kids bite and the ones that don't bite have something else that needs to be dealt with.

Anonymous said...

I taught toddlers for years. And biting (while a huge concern) is so common for kids her age. Every room has a "biter" and except for a couple extreme cases they all grew out of it - especially as vocabulary developed.

Biting was usually done because:

the child was in some type of power struggle and this was the way to "win".

the child was frustrated and biting releases a lot of tension.

the child was teething and it just feels good to bite.

the child is hungry.

If you are worried about her being kicked out, ask the teachers how long the "action plan" will be in place for and if it does not accomplish anything, what is the next step?

I agree with Calmil2. Bring in your own form and make them sign it. It gives the control back to you as the parent.


Sarah said...

Dear, I've read up since I have no real life experience with this yet, and my favorite response so far has been to identify the triggers of the behavior and remove her from a situation that will escalate into a bite.

We wuv you M, chin up!!!