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.
HELEN'S ANSWER: The mother is probably as upset as you are about the incident and is doing everything possible to get her child to stop the biting. She is probably mortified that it is happening. She may call and apologize or bring it up with you. I talked to the mother of a child whose toddler was a biter. It was a temporary phase and he has since stopped the behavior. She said, “Please don't confront the mother about it. She is probably doing everything she can to get the biting stopped. It is a terrible situation for everyone.”
GUEST'S ANSWER: Heather Warlick, Mood Publication Editor: I've been in a similar situation with a day care biter, but didn't know the mother. It's frustrating that your child is being hurt by another child and I believe that if you feel comfortable enough with the child's mother, it's your right to bring it up. However, I doubt that it would do any good.
In fact, the only result I can foresee is alienating that mother. Biting is a phase that some kids go through. My daughter was bitten a few times within about two months; then it was over. She's over it and there was no lasting trauma or scar.