Like Mother Like Son

Tuesday was my first day co-opping at The Goon Squad’s preschool. It went pretty well except Ian bit three people.

Yeah. I know. He had never bitten anybody at school before Tuesday. They were pretty bad bites too. You could still see the teeth marks on one kid when his mom came to pick him up.

The worst part is that when he bit the first little girl, my very first thought wasn’t Oh, I hope she is okay. It was Oh, I can’t wait to call my Mom!

Yes. I was a biter too, I bit kids so much that my Mom had to actually bite me to get me to stop. Here’s the kicker, I didn’t bite kids in preschool, only in Sunday School.

That’s right. You heard me. I only bit the children at church. Maybe it was an early manifestation of my disdain for organized religion, or maybe I was teething, who knows.

I tried explaining to Ian why he shouldn’t bite the other children. I talked to him about how I used to bite kids and he smiled. I told him it wasn’t funny and I tried to teach him why it was mean and we discussed how he didn’t like it when Claudia bit him. I told him that Grandma had to bite me to get me to stop biting the kids in my class and I asked him if he wanted that? Did he want Grandma to have to bite him, or me to bite him or both? (I was rambling at this point because I wasn’t really sure I was getting through to him).


Ian nodded and said “Both”.


We talked about this again on the way to school yesterday morning (this was right before the sweater in the bush thing) and I thought this time I might be really getting through to him.

Can I call it progress if he only bit one little kid at school on Wednesday?

So far the other mothers have been really nice about it, but I’m wondering how many times one kid can get bitten before his parents freak out on me. Or worse, Ian keeps biting the only boy in the class who is bigger than him, so maybe this guy will beat the crap out of my little baby.

I honestly don’t think biting him will help. He has a twin sister, so he has been bitten before. He already knows that is hurts. Any other suggestions?

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  1. There was a huge, raging discussion about this on my DC Working Moms listserv awhile ago. The parents of the self-proclaimed “victims” freaking out while the sheepish parents of the perps trying hard to hold our own. Yes, my kid was a biter, too. She also got bitten a few times.

    They grow out of it. All you can do is what you’re doing – keep saying over and over again that it’s not nice, it hurts people, etc. And you may want to try withholding things (like TV, dessert, whatever gets to him) on the days when he bites. But sometimes that doesn’t work because they’re too little and connecting what happened at preschool with what happens at home three hours later doesn’t work.

    Just steer clear of the asshole, holier-than-thou moms when Ian sinks his fangs into their kids. (One woman on my listserv tried – with a straight face – to make the case that she had a right to know who had bitten her child for MEDICAL reasons. I was like, ‘I’m pretty sure toddlers in daycare don’t have rabies or hepatitis B so I don’t really think you need to know for MEDICAL reasons.’) And try not to laugh outloud at the delicious irony when their kids bite someone a few weeks later and the tables are turned!

  2. Noodle still tries to bite us (not kids, just us). Let me know if you find something that works. She’s 5. She hasn’t bitten another kid for months.

  3. I’m intrigued that you only bit people at Sunday school.

    With regards to help: I have no idea. Have you asked him why he does it? Does he think it’s funny?

  4. Biting at Sunday school. Sounds like a good segue to me …

  5. I’m just amused by the thought of your Sunday school classmates pointing to their wounds and chirping “Sunday School Bites!”

  6. To answer mercydotes about those little carrier monkeys having diseases of ill-repute, they do. I worked for years in public schools and the YMCA. We had kids under five with HIV, AIDS, and a full alphabet of hepatitis.

    Not only were we legally kept from making that information available to other parents, but we weren’t even allowed to alert the staff. The legalities of which seemed questionable to me.

    My point is that there is most likely a child at any given pre-school that has something you don’t want your kid getting, and their rights are the ones being considered, not yours.

    Biting ain’t what it used to be.

  7. Apologies to merseydotes, I spelled your name wrong. I’m a terrible speller. Me fail English? That’s unpossible.

  8. Wish I could help. I have a biter too. She’s learned that’s the only way to keep toys in her possession because her brother always wants what she’s playing with. I’ve been trying to remain calm, take her out of the situation and say “no biting,” and then give her brother attention so she doesn’t think she can get my attention that way. I heard it only lasts a few months but she’s passed that point now. I’m just hoping she at least keeps it in the family.

  9. I have a biter too (18 mo old boy). He is in daycare 4 days a week and the way they handle it there is to TRY to prevent it before it happens (not always possible of course). If they see him getting frustrated or, well, lunging with teeth bared, they jump in and redirect him. In his case I think it is typical toddler stuff, frustration at not yet being physically able to do/say what he wants to do. More complicated with a slightly older kid like Ian… so I am probably not helping you at all and should shut up now.

  10. Did he only bite that first time you were co-opping?

    I know that Lily acts up way more when I am around then when I’m not around. She starts our co-op tomorrow…I’m just sayin’, I know she’ll give me a hard time, I’ll be there…

    I call it “Mommy-Syndrome” when the kids act out in front of Mommy and behave for the teacher. I saw it all the time in my classroom…

    Just a thought, but maybe (in some weird way) he was trying to get your attention.

    I hope I don’t sound like I am blaming you…I’m not!! Just giving my thought on it.

  11. We had a kid once in the preschool I worked at who kept biting the other kids. This was unusual because he was older (I think maybe 4 at the time). So one day after he bit his friend on the stomach I asked him why he did that. His answer: “Because I’m a vampire!” I could barely manage not to laugh, made perfect sense to me… so have you been letting the boy watch too many vampire movies?

    With kids who can talk, sometimes you still need to help them with the words to use when they get frustrated (and then bite). If you figure out why he’s biting (someone took his toy,they wouldn’t let him play, etc) then you can help him by giving him the words to say to the other kid instead of biting (“I don’t like that” or “that’s not nice/fair”). That’s generally how we handled it in our preschool. Did his teacher have advice on handling it? She probably has some experience with this, as it happens a lot.

    Goodluck! I had a biter this summer (18 month-old), and it was no fun (especially because he couldn’t tell me why!), but at least he was biting me and not another kid.

  12. He might have just bitten because you were there. Next week, he probably won’t bite anyone. We went through a very short biting phase with out daughter just after our son was born. Kids don’t dig change.

  13. Oh, your preschool is very forgiving. In Izzy’s school if you bite….you just kicked your ass out of preschool.

    I’m afraid I would have been a freaked out parent if someone bit Izzy.

    However, I just got a note last week from the teacher. My 7 year old bit a little girl! Hmmmm…..

  14. Dudes bites every now and then and he is just over 2. He gets frustrated or angry and it’s his way of lashing out. He goes in the corner, I yell “No bite ! Never, ever bite!” He said to my mother the other night, “bye, bye, bye.” I didn’t have the heart to tell her that he was really saying “bite, bite, bite.” As for the list serv? I’m SURE it was DC Urban moms. I stopped reading it months and months ago. I didn’t need the drama. Nothing worse than an “outraged” mother.

  15. I’m currently going through the same thing and Bumper just turned one so no reasoning with her (sigh). Her current favorite victim is Wonderbaby of Her Bad Mother fame (her head is so juicy and full of ideas is my babe’s defence). If you find a “cure” plesae share, please, please PLEASE! I’m afraid we are going to be kicked out of preschool before we even get there.

  16. Gunslinger, recently turned two, had a biting issue at daycare. I think perhaps it was my fault.

    I love to play like I’m eating his arm, leg, belly, whatever and he would giggle hysterically.

    In my defense, I was his babysitter for a few months when he first moved here and I would do anything to stop a tantrum (I’m more jaded than that now).

    I got a ‘talking to’ by Gunslinger’s mom, The VP.

  17. We went through this too. It’s embarassing when they bite other kids, but it’s just part of the whole thing. Some do it, some don’t. Jack got into trouble when he bit and he has been bitten as well.

    They’ll be over it by Spring. He just needs to get in trouble when it happens, and while you can talk about it later, you can’t really punish after. They don’t get it.

  18. My cousin’s kids went to a preschool where they had alot of media attention for trying to kick a biter out of the school. You see, the child was HIV+, and a bad biter – many times a day. The media were calling them mean for kicking this poor sick child out of preschool. I’d do the same for my child.

  19. Sarah, Lucas was repeatedly bitten by this tiny (half his size ) adorable girl. Twice, she cut thru his skin pretty deep and Lucas had to take antibiotics.
    I wasn’t too happy about the lack of supervision. I wasn’t angry at the pretty girl. I always tried to tell the mother that I wasn’t upset with her. She felt horrible though, I could tell. The funny thing is, Lucas loves her. They still are best friends. I think that is why she bites him. They want the same toy, or book.
    Good luck.

  20. I JUST wrote a post about this that I am editing to put up. Brayden has been the “victim” of a biter 6 times–same kid bit Baylee once and their cousin 4 times. In two weeks. With bruises and skin broken. With only 5 children in the nursery, I was not happy. Sorry–you other parents can flame me if you want, but I felt it was a lack of supervision. I was very, very reluctant to complain and only did so when they had to call me twice within 15 minutes to tell me he had been bitten. I was so hesitant because I am extremely aware that it could be my kid biting tomorrow. However, I felt unless I said something, it would just continue and truthfully, I was sick of seeing him come home with huge, teeth-shaped bruises on his back. Ever the realist though, I know it is very hard to punish a young child for this behavior because they just don’t understand. So, I really don’t know what the answer is. My main goal was getting the daycare to increase the supervision of the biter. I know several of my friends’ kids who have been evicted from daycare when the biting didn’t cease.

  21. I don’t have any sage advice here. All I know is that my son was bitten twice by the same kid, and I was PISSED. But honestly, I was also relieved as hell that my kid wasn’t the biter.

    Until he became the biter. Because they do. It’s like vampirism.

  22. As long as the kids aren’t turning into zombies as a result I think everything is fine. If you’re really worried, you can always recommend people bathe in Tabasco or Deep-Woods Off…that should prevent biting

  23. My twins were biters too. So you’d think I’d have some advice on the matter. But you’d be wrong. :) I considered the biting them thing, but they were biting each other so what difference would it have made if I bit them. They would have just thought it was a game and continued on. I put soap in their mouths once. They didn’t like it, but it did nothing to deter them. I even tried putting a little vinegar in their mouths. That worked a little. If they looked like they were going in for a bite I’d say, “Do you want vinegar?” and they’d stop…for a few minutes. But really the only thing that worked was time. They eventually grew out of it.

  24. Sometimes kids bite because other kids can’t understand them when they speak to them. But if Ian’s words are understood by his teacher and classmates, let us move on to other ideas…

    What about getting Ian a rubber bone he can bring to school? Seriously. I know it sounds weird, but some biters lose interest when the biting is “legalized and regulated”.

    Also, ask for a detailed description in writing from the preschool teacher as to what is going on in the room right before, during and after Ian chomps. This way you may be able to determine if there is some kind of provocation, frustration or ,as someone else said, a lack of supervision going on in the classroom.

    Keep in mind too that if Ian is biting the Alpha Male in the room, nature will *correct* itself and Ian may be on the receiving end of a chomp soon. Which actually may take care of the problem.

    Let me know if you need more ideas. I just got back in town.

  25. HI all
    you have no idea who I am. I am a nurse working a night duty in the community watching over a little boy. I was reading your advice and comments on biting and I know for some its really serious but at 5 in the morning, I thank you for the good laugh you gave.

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