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20-40-60 Etiquette: Once bitten — how to deal with the day care chomper

My child was the victim of a day care biter. Should I say something to the toddler's mom? 20-40-60 Etiquette answers, with Heather Warlick as guest.
BY CALLIE GORDON, LILLIE-BETH BRINKMAN, HELEN FORD WALLACE Modified: July 6, 2012 at 5:45 pm •  Published: July 6, 2012
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QUESTION: I take my child to day care and he loves to go. Lately, he has been the victim of a biter and I am very good friends with his mother. The issue has been addressed by the staff because it is not just my child who is involved, and the other child will be removed from day care if it continues. My question: Is it polite to mention the situation (the biting of my child) to my friend, the child's mother?

CALLIE'S ANSWER: Do not tell the parent. She has been told what her child is doing. You don't need to be more involved, the day care already is.

LILLIE-BETH'S ANSWER: This is horrible for everyone involved, but it's common. A toddler biter broke the skin of one of my sons years ago in Mother's Day Out at our church. He healed, but his teacher later noted that such incidents are often worse for the parents of the biter than the bitten because it's such a hard habit to stop in little ones. In my son's case, the biter didn't get to come back to the church because of a policy that involved something like “three strikes and you're out.”

As for visiting with your good friend, if you feel like you need to say something so your friendship can continue without a hitch, then approach the topic by reassuring her that your child is going to be fine (if he is) and tell her that you're sorry (if you are) that she is dealing with that. Know that she is probably embarrassed and vigorously working with her child to stop the behavior. Also understand that biting by young children does not indicate they will be troublemakers later.

It's traumatizing for the parents whose child is bitten and the day care should respond appropriately to keep it from happening again. However, your friend probably needs the most sympathy at this point; she may be dealing with the problem long after your child's skin has healed.

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