Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Toddler wars

Yesterday I picked up the kids from daycare and lo and behold I received an incident report about Sophia biting another child. Frankly, I'm tired of it. None of the teachers seem to be overly concerned about it and I'm tired of being the only one who is concerned. But that won't stop me from trying to figure out why Sophia is biting her friends at school and how to stop it.

For the first time, the report I got yesterday contained useful information. Usually I get a letter that says, "Sophia was playing with another child and she bit the child on the hand (arm, nose, finger, etc.). We told Sophia that biting is not nice and she said she was sorry." This time the letter explained that Sophia was playing with a toy and another child tried to take it from her and Sophia wouldn't give it up. The other child persisted and Sophia bit the child. Feeling her authority, Sophia decided she didn't want a different child in the area where she was playing and tried to remove the child. When the child wouldn't leave, Sophia bit them. The teacher said she removed Sophia from the situation, told her biting was mean and it hurts her friends and Sophia said she was sorry for biting.

Of course I'm paraphrasing, but you get the idea.

Last week, Sophia came home from school with a bite mark on the back of her left shoulder and an incident report explaining that she was bit by a child. The week before she came home with a scratch across her face one day (no report) and another day she had a deep cut on the back of her head (again, no report).

My theory is that there is a war going on in that classroom and the teachers are completely unaware of the dynamics. I have been told by one of the teachers that the group of children in Sophia's class is particularly feisty. I don't think Sophia's biting is because she's defending herself, but I do believe she is reacting to the atmosphere of the classroom. Basically, I think what started out as a phase and should have been quickly over has turned into a long, drawn out ordeal because of an underground toddler war. And because Sophia's biting has been well-documented, the teachers are focusing on that and missing a lot of other "incidences."

I mentioned my theory, or at least the non-crazy mom version of it, to one of the teachers after Sophia came home with the gash on the back of her head and no incident report. I showed the teacher the cut on Sophia's head and she seemed completely surprised by the injury. Since then, I have gotten notices that Sophia has been hurt by other children mixed in with Sophia's biting reports.

In the meantime, Sophia absolutely loves going to daycare (aka: school). Everytime we put on her coat, get in the car or take out my keys - day or night - she asks about going to school. I'd like to continue to encourage her love of school, but I'm afraid this war has potential to damage this. She loves going to play with her friends and she's always saying their names. How do I discipline an action that only takes place at daycare and encourage her love of going to school?

The war continues.

**Update, update. I talked to Sophia's teacher and things aren't as bad I thought.**


Anonymous said...

Here's an idea......quit your job and stay home and raise your own children. You will have less marks on your kids and you won't have people who seem to not be watching your child very well take care of them. Just a thought.....

Diane Hoffman said...

Many mothers who work, including myself, do so because we need to put food on the table and clothing on our backs. Thank you for the great idea for me to quit my job, but unless you are planning to finance my stay at home, I will continue to work to help my husband support our family and therefore my children will have to continue to go to daycare.

As far as the people watching the children go, I believe my children are being cared for very well. I have a lot of respect for the people who work at my children's daycare, they have helped me and my children more times than I can count. If I thought for one single second that my children were being neglected or not getting the best possible care I would have removed them from that facility in a heartbeat.

My focus is trying to get my daughter to stop biting other children at school. So, if anything, my daughter is being watched very, very carefully because I hear about her biting (or lack there of on good days) every single day.

Anonymous said...

I am a teacher in a two year old class where biting is a normal occurrance. I know that biting is is a very frustrating thing and is very hard to control because there are so many reasons why they do it. In my experience, it usually is just a phase, but if it is a constent problem, I find its normally because they need to be taught how to express their anger in a healthy manner. Being frustrated and/or angry is a natural reaction, but some children don't know how to deal with it. Constant positive reinforcment works wonders. If the child reacts to anger by means other than biting, praise her. Even if she hits, kicks, throws, etc. tell her that also is not acceptable but "I'm so proud of you for not biting". I have also given a child a "biting pillow". I would give him his pillow whenever he was upset and tell him to bite it. He thought this was funny at first but once it became a habit, he would go to his cubby himself and get it whenever he needed it. Good luck to you and keep your head up, I promise it will stop eventually. And to the idiot who commented before, I pity you for the ignorance you were dealt with in life. I pray that you are not a woman or a parent. At least if you are a man it is understandable, not right, but understandable.

Diane said...

Thank you. It's reassuring. Since this post, the biting has definitely been happening a lot less frequently. I think you are right, the children are just learning how to show their anger and it will take time. Thanks for the assurance that this is normal, it does make me feel better.