Almost none of the vows I’d made before becoming a mother held true.
No kids in our bed, no pacifiers after age two, no screen time before age three…oh, sweet, naïve little me.
Breaking most of the promises I’d made to myself BC (Before Children), of course, was not the end of the world. But one haunted me—coming to terms with the fact that I’d sworn to never have a child who was the class biter, and then having one.
For close to a year, my son bit another child (or children) once or twice a day. Almost every day.
Each time I would get the dreaded call from his daycare telling me that I needed to come pick him up. Each time I was in tears over the fact that I did, in fact, have a child who was the class biter, despite the vow I’d made to never have one.
Aside from getting my child to stop biting, there was another thing I desperately wanted. I wanted to give following list to the parents of his “victims.” I wanted to provide some insight into the world of “the biter” (and his parents).
Here are 10 thing you might not know about “that kid.”
1. Biting is not uncommon. There are often two (or three…or six…) toddlers who bite in every daycare class. My son’s teachers stressed this point to me. She reassured me that they deal with several “biters” much of the time. One of his teachers said that at one point, half the toddlers in her room were biters. (Which left her little time to do anything but separate the predators from their prey)
2. He may be teething. Or suffering from an ear infection. Or a cold. Or an oral fixation from too-much-paci-time. And his parents are most likely asking themselves—constantly—if he is biting as a coping mechanism for one (or two…or all!) of these issues.
3. He is not a sociopath. (No, really he’s not.) If the child who’s biting is younger than, say, three, he isn’t biting because he wants to inflict harm on his peers. He isn’t capable of that emotion yet. (Meanwhile, his parents are worrying that he is becoming the next Norman Bates. Especially once the biting period stretches from days to weeks.)
4. He doesn’t hate your child. Maybe, even the opposite. My son tended to bite his daycare BFF the most (making me wonder why said BFF wanted to stay friends with my son at all).
5. His parents are not laughing about his habit. Or rejoicing that they get to leave work early to pick him up if he exceeds the allowable biting quota that day. Or saying that the bitees “must have had it coming to them.” Or ignoring the situation altogether.
6. His parents are desperate to solve the problem. No one wants to hear that their child has been bitten. But on the flip side, no parent wants to have to ask himself, day after day, “WTF is wrong with my child? WTF is wrong with me? How have I raised him in such a way that he is acting like this?!”
7. His parents are not bad parents. They may even be diligent, wonderful parents. Parents who spend hours a day for days on end doing research on how to keep their child from biting are not failures as parents. Parents who meet teachers and daycare administrators daily to devise a solution. Parents who check out every book on biting from the library. Parents who make sure to read anti-biting picture books to their own “biter.” I repeat- not failures.
8. He is more than “a biter.” My son was a biter, but at the same time he was many other (better!) things. He was smart, helpful, loving, hilarious, talkative, happy, and full of life. Biters should not be defined solely by their biting behavior.
9. He doesn’t need to see a child psychologist. As a toddler, he is behaving age-appropriately. Even though it’s age-appropriately poorly in these instances. Toddler behavior isn’t always pretty. Or quiet. Or calm. Or reasonable. And some toddlers just bite, whether it’s from the issues listed in #2 or one of dozens of other reasons.
10. He will grow out of it. This is just a phase! And the next phase will be hard as well. When his parents are in the midst of that next tough toddler stage, they will find they have become stronger. They will have grown as well. Together. All thanks to the battle of the biting.