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Holy Terror, What's With That Kid?

Picture this: You've got a friend with kids close in age to yours. You really like spending time with the friend and your older children get along well and like playing together. However, her younger preschooler is a terror. He hits your younger child, who, while older, is not nearly as aggressive.

Or this: Your toddler is getting bitten regularly by another child at daycare. No one seems to be able to control the biter.

Both situations come up frequently with friends and are discussed at length on area moms listservs. And both point to the same question: How do you pair preschoolers with different temperaments, and should you?

The general expert consensus seems to be that both aggressive and non-aggressive kids need to learn how to handle such situations. Aggressive children need to be taught where to channel their energies and non-aggressive kids need to learn how to stick up for themselves.

That said, it's not easy when you're the parent in the situation. I've had to deal with both. In our case, we left the daycare that couldn't handle the biting child, but we have stuck it out with our friends who have an aggressive child. Our kids ask to play with each other occasionally and we moms oblige -- and work to teach both children to work their arguments out in an appropriate way. So far, the mellow child hasn't become an aggressor and the aggressor hasn't mellowed, but they do have fun when they're both in good moods.

How have you handled these situations? What would you tell a parent going through them?

Today's Talkers: Sex Education Debate Continues ... A Great Year for Ivy Leagues, but Not So Good for the Applicants to Them ... Is Motherhood a 'Feminine Mistake'? ... Color of Money: These Little Piggies Save at Home

By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 9, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Preschoolers
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Comments


I think every situation is different and every parent has to deal with it accordingly. Biting is a physical threat that must be dealt with. if the daycare refuses to deal with it and it cannot be contained, then pulling your child out may be the only option. However, a good daycare or pre-school will deal with the issue head-on and if the biter, give several opportunities, cannot be stopped, then that child will be asked to leave until the behavior can be modified.

As for the more docile child, depending on the situation nothing is wrong with that. In every organizational dynamic someone will take the lead. In the situation you describe it is only natural that your younger child may sit back and follow the lead of the older child. As long as they are having fun and are included in the activities I don't see a problem.

Posted by: HappyDad | April 9, 2007 7:50 AM | Report abuse

Let them grow up to be Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dhamer, or John Wayne Gacy. Fox News needs the stories and the CNN's Nancy Grace needs somenthing to be shrill about.

I think parents of the children bitten should bite the parents of the children who bite. Or use the same mask that they used on Hanniable Lecter.

Posted by: NYC | April 9, 2007 8:45 AM | Report abuse

Last year my daughter got bit in day care. I was concerned about the bite because it caused a big bruise but did not break the skin. The day care did their best to make sure to intervene and she was not bitten again. Eventually the biter graduated out and now goes to public school. I don't think she still bites other children. Unless it breaks the skin or is a continuous thing, it is just part of life lessons on the play ground. I do think kids who stay at home still run into the occassional biter at the play ground or at gymboree. The parents of the biter were very embarrassed for a long time. I really don't think it was a huge deal. But they seemed to be embarrassed.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 9:03 AM | Report abuse

When kids are playing and one starts crying, I usually give the crying one a time-out. Not in a punitive way, but more like, sit here with me on the couch and when it stops hurting and you can stop crying, then you can go out and play again. This is useful for several reasons:

1. It separates the "offender" from the "victim", so if the "offender" continues his/her behavior, the activity quickly ceases.

2. If the victim is really seeking protection from the aggressor, the victim will not want to go out and play again. It's a simple test to see if the victim is seeking your protection, and if he is, it should be provided.

3. Many times getting hurt is just the result of playful activety and the victim will claim to be hurt just to see the other guy get punished. This is the classic tattle-tail behavior, and a lot of parents fall into the trap of punishing the winner and rewarding the loser. By taking out the tattle-tale cry-baby from the situation, it discourages the behavior and leads to less crying that you have to endure. Less crying is what every parents wants!

I also want to point out the biting is not necessarily aggressive behavior. Often it is a result of over-applied affection. I've always nibbled on my babies (and wife) as a form of affection. For some reason, it gives me a small sense of satisfaction. Of course, I hold back from taking a chomp, but the temptation still exists. I can only imagine that my kids are built the same way as all 4 of them have been biters, or tasters, as I call it, of their brothers, sisters and cousins. I've noticed that when wrestling around with them after 18 months, they all put there teeth on my hand, but before they bit in, I would say in a stern voice, "Hey, watch your teeth!" Usually they would pause for a second and just let go, but sometimes the temptation was just too great and they chomped down. "OUCH, YOU HURT ME !!!", I would yell and then it would be game over. A unsolicited apology always followed immediately which tells me that even though they bit me, they didn't want to hurt me.

Posted by: Father of 4 | April 9, 2007 9:06 AM | Report abuse

Been on both sides on this one. In both cases, it is important to teach that a) the victim needs to lean to stand up to a bully and b) the bully needs to learn how interact appropriately with others.

Often times, that meant separating the kids when necessary, forcing them to work out their differences when appropriate, and always staying calm.

Posted by: LM in WI | April 9, 2007 9:57 AM | Report abuse

There is no way I would let my child "play" with a biter or a hitter, especially if the parents were friends of mine. In grownups, this behavior is called "assault," and it happens because nobody taught the little terrors how to behave themselves. By continuing to expose my child to that behavior because the parents are "friends," I would be tacitly showing him that it's acceptable on some level. It isn't.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 10:05 AM | Report abuse

It must be different in the D.C. area. In Miami, the day care/pre-kindergardens have a two-bite rule. A kid that bites twice is gone; allowing a serial biter makes no sense and it is not fair to other parents. As for aggressive children, my small four year old has been hit once by a child on a couple of occasions. If she is ever hit twice by the same child, she will learn a new lesson from Daddy: Honey, the way to resolve that is to punch the bully right on the nose.

Posted by: Chris | April 9, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Chris, so it's wrong to hit and to teach that, you have your kid hit back? Sounds a little fishy to me.

Posted by: dlm79 | April 9, 2007 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Kids bite for many different reasons - it often has absolutely NOTHING to do with being aggressive. Kicking a child out of a daycare because of biting doesn't solve anybody's problems nor does refusing to let your child play with the "biter". You have to look at each situation differently and handle it accordingly. To do otherwise, is silly. I think people have a misconception of these kids - they are not from violent homes where they are allowed to run wild. Get to know the kids and get to know the parents before you go making rash decisions about them. Trust me, your children aren't perfect and one day - you'll want the same respect from other parents!

Posted by: Mom | April 9, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

I went to pick up my three-year-old granddaughter from daycare one afternoon and found her sitting on "timeout" being dressed down by the daycare provider, who was telling her "We don't hurt our friends. I can't believe you did that! We don't hurt our friends." The other three four toddlers were huddled together around the daycare provider, all sobbing piteously. The care provider was trying to merely reiterate a rule but it seemed that the infraction had really shocked her, and the other children were very upset.

It was a horrible situation. My granddaughter was contrite and crying, all the other kids were crying, the care provider was aghast at whatever had happened but was restoring order.

The group had been studying two caterpillars in the playground, and their care provider was explaining the life cycle of the caterpillar, what they eat, how much they eat each day, how they wrap themselves into coccoons and become butterflies. And then, for seemingly no reason at all, while all the other children were off looking at one of the caterpillars, my granddaughter picked up a stone and killed the other one.

And then chaos erupted.

That's WHAT happened. It wasn't until everyone had calmed down that I was able to ask my granddaughter WHY she had done that, and listened patiently to her toddler explanation: Caterpillars are very hungry. They are small, but they eat big leaves--much bigger than they are. But there weren't a lot of leaves in the yard. OBVIOUSLY the caterpillars were going to run out of leaves and begin to eat the children.

I told her, "Oh, sweetie, caterpillars can't eat people." And she looked at me as though I were simple-minded and said, "Nana, you don't KNOW what they can do."

Sometimes acting out physically takes place because young children live in a world where their minds perceive serious problems that their bodies have limited ability to resolve.

It's vital to stop aggression when it happens. Then we must recognize that even the tiniest biters and bitees can benefit from discussion about consequences, reasons, and alternatives.

If a child continually bites or shows other types of aggression, that child isn't developmentally ready for the types of interactions and situations they're placed in.

Posted by: Kim | April 9, 2007 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Well, my child was the biter so I have a different perspective. It's offensive to call an 18-month old biter a "bully" or to say that they have "assaulted" the other child, or to say that the parents should bite the biter's parents. This is age-appropriate behavior just like hitting, spitting food, and refusing to share. Children become socialized and develop self-control over a period of years. It isn't fair to the children or the parents to expect them to do it instantly. Just deal with the behavior and move on, instead of making a mountain out of a molehill or pretending that these children are little criminals or something.

Fortunately, my child's daycare had more common sense than the posters here. They recognised that toddlers shouldn't be held to the same standard of behavior as adults, and looked upon it as the caregivers' responsibility to prevent biting, rather than the child's. Once a child started biting they would stay close to the child, observe situations that resulted in biting, and then avoid having those situations occur. In my child's case, it was a little girl who kept grabbing his toys. Every toy he picked up she would grab from him. Every time he moved she would get in his face and try to control him.

Posted by: m | April 9, 2007 10:36 AM | Report abuse

"Once a child started biting they would stay close to the child, observe situations that resulted in biting, and then avoid having those situations occur."

It sounds like the daycare staff is setting up the child who was biting to succeed. One of the best pieces of advice my mom gave me about disciplining children (and to discipline does mean to teach) was how powerful distraction can be and that sometimes the best thing is just to remove a child physically from a bad/dangerous situation and redirect that child to a desirable activity.

Posted by: Marian | April 9, 2007 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Not long after my first kid was in daycare he kept coming home with bite marks. I was new to the situation and over-reacted. I even took him to the doctor to make sure he was being bitten by a kid and not an adult or dog (someone at work suggested that). The doctor assured me that he was being bitten by a 2 year old. The owner of the day care said she was aware of the problem and the offending child's parents had been put on notice. They ended up leaving. I hope they found a nice place. My son stayed in that daycare for a couple of years and made some lasting friends and had a great experience. I'm glad we didn't leave.

My youngest isn't aggressive but she sure isn't the shrinking violet type. She's a very high energy, in-your-face kind of a kid. For every 5/6 kids we have playdates with, we're lucky to get one repeat. I've just come to terms with that and we highly value the friends she has. We also keep her involved in sports where those same traits work in her favor. Thank goodness for the parents who have been patient and tolerant with this slightly different kid.

Posted by: soccermom | April 9, 2007 10:54 AM | Report abuse

My youngest was a biter, and I'm having a hard time believing some of the comments here. Do you really expect an 18 month old to learn a lesson in a single incident, or two? Do you really believe that a toddler bite is akin to an assault among adults, or even is threatening to another child's health? If a child bites in response to being hit, to having a toy taken away fby another child, to unwanted contact from other children, why react only to the defensive action and not to the offensive action? The over-reaction to biting can be very hard to understand. Toddlers don't simply walk up to a friend and take a bite, they bite in defense when other ways of conveying a message have failed.
In our case, our day care provider worked with our son to correct the behavior and to teach him other communication skills. It turned out that the biting incidents had occured when larger, more aggressive children took toys from him by force, or in once case, when a larger girl insisted on hugging him even as he ran from her. What corrected the situation was teaching him to express himself in other ways (calling "I don't like that, walk away!" took the place of biting), and simply having the provider pay more attention to preventing the other children from assaulting him. The biting went away very quickly once that program began.
So what lesson would have been taught by removing him from the daycare? The aggressive children would have been rewarded and him punished for defending himself inappropriately. Instead, we taught all the children better communication skills. That's teaching. Kicking the kid out is just a cop-out and doesn't teach a thing.

Posted by: sct | April 9, 2007 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Well, I am the mom of an aggressive child and it's not easy. My son has Asperger's Syndrome and, while he is brilliant, he can be aggressive if 1) his routine is not followed, 2) he is interrupted while in deep concentration, or 3) he feels "threatened" because he cannot read the other person's nonverbal (or even verbal) cues. He goes to individual therapy, group therapy, and he is taking medications. yet he still has episodes where he will beat up a kid if any of the above conditions occur. Sorry moms and dads, we are doing as much as we can but we still cannot control out kid 100%. I pray to God that he will be able to control himself better as he gets older.

Posted by: fashionistadc | April 9, 2007 11:24 AM | Report abuse

I'll say it again, slowly: My 3-year-old has never, ever hitten or bitten another child, because from Day One he has been taught that that is not nice. It hurts. And you CAN teach that to an 18-month-old. Of course they'll try it. You teach them NOT to do it. If children are not taught this lesson, they will grow up and do it to other people. Yes, that is called assault, bullying, you choose your term. I am very tired of the argument that children get to be held to a different behavioral standard than adults. How do you think the adults learn the standard of behavior in the first place? They are taught it from a young age. Well, the lucky ones are, at least.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Some of you posters really need to take a good hard look at yourselves and the values you're teaching your children. None of us are perfect parents, but seriously, teaching your children to punch someone in the nose, THAT'S your solution? I'm thanking God that my kid will never play with yours. Anyway, I've been on both sides. My daughter has displayed aggressive behavior because she's an only child and I wasn't doing a good job of teaching her about sharing and interacting with other children. Yes, that's right I HER MOTHER, didn't give her the skills she needed. I had to take her out of the school she was in and put her in one that would actually continue the lessons we were teaching at home. I also saw that there was aggressive behavior against my daughter that wasn't adequately addressed to my satisfaction. Daycare/preschool needs to do it's part to understand the children and give them the tools to interact with their friends. At the end of the day though, it's the parent's responsibility to teach about sharing, bullying, aggression, and standing up for yourself. I'm glad to see there are parents on here that are teaching their children appropriately.

Posted by: Lisette's Mommy | April 9, 2007 12:55 PM | Report abuse

We had a kid on our soccer team (age 4-5) who would try to poke other kids in the eye, trip them, hit them. Several of the parents including me told the coach that we would quit if the kid stayed on the team. He informed the parents and the kid was cut loose. No one was happy but safety first. You have no duty to be around children who hurt other kids. If the shoe was on the other foot, I would understand.

Posted by: pATRICK | April 9, 2007 1:03 PM | Report abuse

And NYC, you need to grow up. Parents like you are the ones that create the Jeffrey Dahmer's and Ted Bundy's. Biting the parents of biting toddlers? You MUST be asking for an @$$ whooping!

Posted by: Lisette's Mommy | April 9, 2007 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I think there was some good advice in the posts above that might have been missed. If you have a friend with an agressive child come to visit, you need to be aware and supervise the play between the children more closely. DS is 2 when friends come to visit I monitor the play to be certain that one child is not taking from the other with impunity and when possible provide alternatives or the same thing, if possible, so neither wants what the other has. This makes it less likely that one feels a need to be aggressive with the other.

Parent to Parent Tip - Our best playdate is when DS and a friend pretend to cook, each of them gets a pot, a bowl, a spoon and half a box of dry pasta.

Posted by: late to the party | April 9, 2007 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Chris: I was actually quite mortified that my DD hit the girl that bit her. She actually cried and when she calmed down (after haven been bit), she marched over to the other girl and smacked her. I was mortified because I try to teach her non violent resolution skills. Of course to a two year old that is pretty much meaningless. But I spoke to the day care and they told me flatly that my DD is not a bully and she was just defending herself. But I still don't condone the behavior. I talked to her but 6 hours later to a two year old is pretty useless conversation. But if she were older, I would defintely not condone hitting back.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 1:15 PM | Report abuse

I'll say it again, slowly: My 3-year-old has never, ever hitten or bitten another child, because from Day One he has been taught that that is not nice. It hurts. And you CAN teach that to an 18-month-old"


This is wishful, we are the world, B.S. Some children are hitters and no amount of patient reasoning and hand wringing will change that." Children have very little impulse control and that is the main reason for aggression. Check back with us when your kid is 4,5,6. Then we will talk.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:19 PM | Report abuse

"My 3-year-old has never, ever hitten or bitten another child, because from Day One he has been taught that that is not nice. It hurts."

1. If your child has never bitten or hit a kid then you didn't teach him anything. He simply was never inclined this way. You may think it is because you taught him so well, but you really have no way of knowing this.

2. Kids under the age of three are developmentally incapable of understanding another person's pain. There is a wealth of research proving this point.

"And you CAN teach that to an 18-month-old."

No you can't. Or at least, I couldn't, at that age, despite timeouts, saying "that hurts" and all sorts of strategies discussed with pediatricians, child care specialists, etc. I guess he's just a bad kid who should be thrown in the trash today. He's obviously going to grow up to be a mass murderer!

"I am very tired of the argument that children get to be held to a different behavioral standard than adults."

What? Are you serious? Children are in the process of learning. Learning is not an instantaneous event. Also, their brains are developmentally different from an adult's brain. They are not capable of reasoned thought until the age of seven. All these things are supported by scientific evidence. So, yes, we do hold them to a lower standard.

But, since you feel that my child should be treated in this cruel and inhuman manner, I will make sure to treat your child, or any other child, with the same inhumanity as you demonstrate. If any child hits or bites MY kid, I will make sure to call the police, because "assault" should surely be punished with jail time!

Beware of your harsh attitude, because if your child should ever depart from being the perfect little angel you seem to think he is, some other parent whom you've alienated may come down as hard on him as you have on their kid.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 1:22 PM | Report abuse

"'ll say it again, slowly: My 3-year-old has never, ever hitten or bitten another child, because from Day One he has been taught that that is not nice. It hurts. And you CAN teach that to an 18-month-old. Of course they'll try it."

How do you teach a kid from day one that it isn't nice and that it hurts? Do you start biting and hitting your kid as an infant so that they know what hurts? And if "of course, they'll try it", how can you say it has "never, ever" happened.

If it has "never, ever" happened you haven't taught them anything. You just got lucky. It's when they've done it and actually stopped that you've taught them something.

Posted by: soccermom | April 9, 2007 1:43 PM | Report abuse

"Do you really believe that a toddler bite is akin to an assault among adults, or even is threatening to another child's health?"

If that kid has HIV, then most definitely. With the current trend of parents declining or denying vaccinations for their kids, you never know what a kid is carrying .... the human mouth also has a lot of bacteria in it, and this can cause blood infections with VERY serious consequences, as evidenced by the kidney failure that Johnny Depp's poor little girl experienced earlier this year when she got one.

Posted by: StudentMom | April 9, 2007 2:05 PM | Report abuse

If that kid has HIV, then most definitely. With the current trend of parents declining or denying vaccinations for their kids, you never know what a kid is carrying .... the human mouth also has a lot of bacteria in it, and this can cause blood infections with VERY serious consequences, as evidenced by the kidney failure that Johnny Depp's poor little girl experienced earlier this year when she got one.

Yes, there is always a slight chance that a child will contract a disease from a biting toddler/preschooler. But toddlers/preschoolers have been hitting and biting each other since the beginning of time. I would also think anyone who had an HIV infected toddler/preschooler would be extra careful around other children. I think the risk is very small that a your child's classmate has contracted HIV. Even when it is passed from mother to child, the children get on antiviral drugs from the beginning and seldom become HIV positive.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I really liked SCT's perspective on this.

Some kids will bite- usually it's nothing to do with being aggressive, and simply that at that age they can't verbalize what they want, they can't process a better solution, so they just bite to act out in their frustration.

However, other kids shouldn't have to be exposed to a chronic biter. The parents and day care people should be informed and work and watch the kid to try and get them out of that stage asap and avoid problems.

But if the kid is just a biter and isn't controlled, it is the right thing to remove them from others until they reach a better level of socialization.

For the most part I don't do anything when kids are acting badly in public- racing down aisles at grocery stores, pulling tons of stuff off shelves at mall stores, swinging on rails around areas clearly marked for employees only at a restaurant. I might give a dirty look to the parent though, but generally if they aren't bothering me directly, my words aren't going to suddenly change their parenting style and I'm not willing to take the kid myself and raise it so they are stuck.

Posted by: Liz D | April 9, 2007 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Clearly some people have children who simply are born perfect. I'm not kidding. I see them all the time. What's weird is that the parents take credit for it.:-)My own kids aren't so perfect. They're not that bad, but they do have issues and have both had to be taught not to be agressive.

One thing that has helped is is having pets. It takes a lot of supervision but pets are a way of teaching kids to be kind and responsible with those who are weaker than they are. It was a bit tough on the pets when the kids were between 1 and 3 but we all lived through it and the kids learned so much about being caring and not taking their aggressions out on others.

Posted by: soccermom | April 9, 2007 2:33 PM | Report abuse

I'm new to this blog. It seems really balanced and non-inflammatory (not like SOME I could mention!)
My son was the biter and the bitee. As the biter, he only bit when overtired (one babysitter never made him nap) or had an ear infection. Once those were cleared up, and he learned manners, case closed. As the bitee, again it was because the babysitter never made any of the OTHER kids nap either. Hence, full-scale battles amongst the 20-month olds. After coming home with 4 (four!!!!) bite marks one day, I pulled him out of that home.
Anyway, my point is....most children will attempt to bite. It's only when they display a pattern of continuous aggression that parents should worry.

Posted by: awb | April 9, 2007 2:48 PM | Report abuse

My daughter isn't perfect but she's also never been very physically aggressive. My friend has a little girl 5 years younger than mine who is very physically aggressive. This little girl will git my daughter on the head and then my munchkin will stare at me with a "what now, mom" look on her face. My friend is used to her kids behavior and didn't really see a problem with it. I took matters into my own hands and said we don't hit here (meaning my house). We'll see how things go as time progresses. I'm not too worried though as my daughter is old enough to know to walk away instead of hitting back or the yelling at little kid (not that she would, I think).

Posted by: 21117 | April 9, 2007 3:10 PM | Report abuse

*How do you teach a kid from day one that it isn't nice and that it hurts? Do you start biting and hitting your kid as an infant so that they know what hurts?*
.....Oh My God. You really have to ask that? Your poor child......

*And if "of course, they'll try it", how can you say it has "never, ever" happened.*
......Read more carefully. I said he had never hit or bitten another child. He bit me when he was about a year old. It hurt. I howled. I said "No no! Hurts Mommy!" This is how you teach small children. I think you need a class.

*If it has "never, ever" happened you haven't taught them anything. You just got lucky. It's when they've done it and actually stopped that you've taught them something.*
See above reply.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I agree about pets. We have a sweet old dog. Son has been taught from day one to pat gently, use open hands, stroke gently. Heard the word "No" when he does it too roughly. Not brain surgery, folks. Mostly common sense and consistency.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 3:20 PM | Report abuse

With the current trend of parents declining or denying vaccinations for their kids, you never know what a kid is carrying"

This irritates me to no end. We should say no shots, no school. This country needs to grow a pair and tell the loonies to tow the line or forget it. What's next polio?

Posted by: pATRICK | April 9, 2007 3:35 PM | Report abuse

*Check back with us when your kid is 4,5,6. Then we will talk.*
...Yep. You will be asking for my advice when your kid is acting even worse because you don't know how to correct his/her behavior! :-)

Posted by: Anonymous | April 9, 2007 3:43 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK: Day cares can stop a child from attending based on a lack of vaccinations. Most kids who bite are in day care ages not school ages. But the public school can not bar nonvaccinated children because of freedom of religion. I would prefer if the kids were all vaccinated as well. But I don't think we can make them do that.

Posted by: foamgnome | April 9, 2007 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Questionthemedia, you make it sound so simple. Here's hoping life doesn't throw you a curve ball anytime soon because it seems to me you may not have the agility to dodge.

Posted by: Gee | April 9, 2007 4:02 PM | Report abuse

Raising kids is difficult. No big secret about that. And it is even tougher when you are the only one disciplining your child in a large group.

And how you discipline your children DIRECTLY affects their behavior. Many times we have left the playground because 3 yo DS has not stopped throwing mulch. Our friends stay and tell their kids l0 + times not to do it or they will leave. Of course they never do. It has taken years to get my children to behave properly.

Of course you can discipline and 18 month old, those that say you can't are just lazy or feeling guilty.

NO, we don't hold toddlers to adult standards because if I bit another adult I could go to jail. But why should my kid and others suffer through finding out why the bitee is biting.

Posted by: harder than rocket science | April 9, 2007 4:55 PM | Report abuse

Gee: Thank you for your free psychoanalysis. :-)
But what does that have to do with biting, which is today's topic?

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 5:05 PM | Report abuse

To harder than rocket science: Thank you for another voice of sanity in the wilderness.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 9, 2007 5:08 PM | Report abuse

"Many times we have left the playground because 3 yo DS has not stopped throwing mulch. Our friends stay and tell their kids l0 + times not to do it or they will leave. Of course they never do. It has taken years to get my children to behave properly."

Good for you! I too leave, it disgusts me to hear grown adults pleading with their kids to stop. Of course the child knows that the adult has no authority and does whatever they want. My kids KNOW that we WILL leave and guess what they usually behave.

Posted by: pATRICK | April 9, 2007 5:13 PM | Report abuse

This sidebar on discipline reminds me of a woman my DH overheard at a restaurant the other day (takeout place). She had a two-year-old girl with her, and my DH heard her say, "I guess we'll have to cut off your fingers!"

DH was horrified by that comment and brought it up later this evening, calling those people "white trash." However, I reminded him that I had heard a member of his family use similar language on their own young son ("we'll have to tie you up and leave you here" etc.), which always horrified me.

Posted by: Rebecca | April 9, 2007 5:57 PM | Report abuse

"But why should my kid and others suffer through finding out why the bitee is biting."

Of course you don't have to, but let me give you reasons why. Because your kid will be around for a good 18 years going to school, church, music, scouts and sports. You may find that in two years that kid will be your kid's best friend. You might find a great friend in that kid's parent. You may someday find yourself in a challenging situation and want to reach out to someone with a little experience.

Someday you might be the one who hopes for a little tolerance and understanding from someone else.

Posted by: soccermom | April 9, 2007 6:02 PM | Report abuse

I suppose some 18 mo biters do it because their parents have been ineffective or lazy. This board is after all bristling with tales of parental incompetence that are wildly entertaining.

But most very young biters probably do it because their parents are still trying to get them to stop, and it hasn't taken yet--they are only 18 months old. Why is this surprising? And why are the parents whose kids surrendered instantly to very mild discipline so hilariously self-righteous? "Hurts mommy." That's all it took?! Come on! I told my 5 year old "homework good," and 13 years later he came home with a full ride to Harvard. It was that easy.

(Also, I love the "assault" comments. Hey, I think I just spotted a 4 year old committing tax fraud. Someone call 911!)

Posted by: Larry | April 9, 2007 6:17 PM | Report abuse

pATRICK - We have left playgrounds, stores and playdates due to bad behavior from our 2 kids. It only had to be done a couple times and they got the picture. I see lots of lazy parents that would rather stay and chat with other parents then teach their kids a lesson.

Posted by: cmac | April 9, 2007 6:45 PM | Report abuse

The same exceptions for vaccinations apply to licensed child care centers as to public schools. A parent can provide a doctor's note if there is some medical reason the child shouldn't be vaccinated, or is on a different vaccination schedule (rare, but possible). If it is religious or personal philosophy, the parent has to write a note to that effect. But I would be a lot more worried about a lot of other diseases than I would be about the diseases for which we have vaccinations (since I had my children vaccinated). Rota virus was pretty bad. Ear infections from cold can be pretty bad. My friend's kid got shigella because the child care teacher didn't wash her hands well enough in between diaper changes. The flu can wipe out half an elementary school in one fell swoop (sometimes you hear about a school being hyperdisinfected over a weekend after half the kids were out sick).

Posted by: preschool vaccinations | April 9, 2007 9:54 PM | Report abuse

If it is difficult to teach a young child not to bite, imagine how difficult it is to teach the bitten child that the other child is just going through a learning phase.

I have sympathy for the parents of the biters. But let's not forget that its the bitten child who is confused, hurt, and scared. If a child gets bitten repeatedly, what lessons is that child coming away with? That trusted caregivers can't be trusted to keep them safe? That other kids can hurt them without impunity? That biting is an acceptable behavior?

As parents, it is our job to protect our children from abuse. And yes it is abuse even if it comes from other children at play. I wouldn't want to be in a situation with someone who has in the past hurt me physically over and over and I'm sure my kid wouldn't want to either. The two bite rule may seem unduly harsh on the biters, but how fair is it for the other children to get bitten regularly until the biter grows out of it?

Posted by: Anonymous | April 10, 2007 2:17 PM | Report abuse

To April 10, 2007 02:17 PM: Thank you! You made my original point much better than I did, which was that I would not take my kid to a place where I knew he would get hurt, even if that place was the home of a friend.

Posted by: questionthemedia | April 12, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

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