An Open Letter to the Parents of the Kid that Bites My Child
by Amelia Kibbie
Photograph by Twenty20
I’m Amelia. Our kids go to daycare together. My daughter’s name is Alyssa, and your child likes to bite her. Like, a lot.
Last year, I got maybe five injury reports for my little girl all year. When she came back this fall, I had five within the first three weeks. Each time, the caregivers wrote on the form “was playing with a friend and the friend bit her.” See, they don’t tell you who hurt your kid. I get it. Nobody wants angry phone calls or Facebook rants about what their child did at school. I’m not asking you to tell me who you are.
I let these incidents go until I got a report saying that my daughter was pushed down by another child and bitten on the back. I marched up to the daycare director’s office and sat down with her to let her know my thoughts.
You’re probably thinking I went crazy in there, demanding to know who was biting my daughter. That I insisted that the employees were poorly trained. That I threatened to remove her from their care.
I did none of those things. I had two simple questions: First, was my daughter being specifically targeted for these biting incidents, and second, were the parents of the biting child following up at home with the behavioral management strategies that the staff were undoubtedly using in order to combat the biting at school?
She told me no, the biting was random. What was particularly difficult is that the biter had no warning behavior, meaning there was no rhyme or reason to when the biting occurred. As to my second question, she said she did not know for sure.
First of all, I want to let you know that I totally get it. When I was telling this story to my mom, she asked me, “How would you feel if your kid was the biter?” The answer is: terrible. I can only imagine how frustrated you must feel at times when your child keeps doing this thing you don’t want them to do.
Basically, I guess what I’m saying is don’t rely on the childcare center/school to “fix” your child without doing your part at home.
I’m sure you think the parents of the kids who are bitten must hate you or think you are the worst people in the world, but you're wrong—I absolutely do not think that. And any parent with even an ounce of empathy would never hold you 100 percent accountable for your toddler biting.
All I’m asking you to do is try to be consistent with what the caregivers in the center are doing. They’re trained. Trust me, they have a system in place of what to do when an incident occurs. Please ask what their scripted response is, and do the same thing at home when your child bites. EVERY TIME.
I've worked in schools for 12 years and have seen firsthand how a lack of consistency in behavior expectation at home really makes it a hard for a child to make progress on any behavioral changes. Basically, I guess what I’m saying is don’t rely on the childcare center/school to “fix” your child without doing your part at home. I know, I know—easier said than done. But please try.
Who knows, maybe it won’t work. Maybe your kid will just have to grow out of it. But when other people’s children are experiencing pain, I do think it's your duty to at least give it a try.
My heart and my prayers are with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Nobody in their right mind is judging you. Take care, and good luck!