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Biting Policy?


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Hi. Don't know if anyone on here can help us as we are at our wits end in our nursery at the moment. I have had a quick search on here but couldn't find anything but would be very grateful to any links to or advice on policies for biting incidents.


We have a youg girl that is 3 in Sept and bites regularly and another girl in our baby roon who s 17 months that has also been biting. the older one is able to understand when she is taken out of the room and sat down on our 'chill out' chair with a staff member to talk to her. She seem to fully understand that she has done wrong and promises to be kind to her friends. We have 'Teeth are not for biting' which we read regularly and she will even get the book, make her friends sit down and 'read;' it to them to. Nothing seems to work though. Parents are fed up now and some have requested that she plays nowhere near their child. We have had to move a few children up to he preschool room a month earlier before we lost the children all together. She is however still biting in the toddler room and our room leader is now at her wits end to the point where we found her in the baby room the other day in tears! :(


I have contacted our area SENCO who has been in for a chat and I have explained that the girl is very advanced for her age and has some adverse family problems to contend with too. We are awaiting her to come in now for a day to observe and advise.

The other girl in the baby room is also becoming a big problem.She tends to go for the younger babies and one boy got bitten twice, once one thursday and again the following thursday. The first on the end of his nose and the mark had only just gone away and the next right by his eye (as in couldn't get any closer) and this left 3 horriffic lumps on his face. When dad came to collect he stormed out of the baby room without baby and straight to the office. I had a talk with him and calmed him a bit. Tried to explain that the girl biting was only 17months old and that although staff would deal with the situation and tell her it hurts, remove her doll which she doesn't like but has now associated with doing wrong and sitting her down, because of her age this can only be done for a minute (2 max) and isn't working. I personally feel that because fo her age and development stage she doesn't comprehend what she is doing wrong etc. We then had mum come in an hour later and demanded to know what we were doing about it. By this time I had logged a complaint in our complaints book and discussed things with the director. I got her to read it and sign it and she gave some advice herself. (She works as a cook in another nursery and told us of some things that they do, not all of which I agree with).


One idea with have come up with though is to move the girl onto the next room, the toddler room, starting her transition period now so she goes for 3 hours a day while the other baby is in. Then at 18 months she can start full time in the other room. The baby room staff although not too happy agree and the little girls mum can see its advantages. The only one not happy is the toddler room leader, as she has the other one to contend with too. We have also considred though as seen as she is so advanced for her age moving her up ealry to the pre school room. She loves to go in to visit and really enjoys her time in there.


Anyway, background laid :o the staff are now asking if we can have a policy on how to deal with biting but I havn't got a clue where to start to keep all happy. It would make it easier when talking to the parents of the child bitten at the end of a session as then they would understand that we are working by our policy. I disagree with excluding a biter which has been suggested, but am willing to try things if they work. I am going to phone the SENCO again on Mon and ask for more adcive but to appease the staff in the meantime would like to put together a policy over the weekend to hand out first thing Monday.


Does anyone else have a policy on this that they could help give me some ideas from and what do you all think? Is a biting policy taking things too far or a good idea. I think the overload of stress at the moment is stopping me thinking clearly here. :(


I await your thoughts :( and advice from all you lovely lovely people xD:)


Eve x

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That's great Suzanne and many thanks for posting the link. I can use that to help give me some ideas in putting one together. :)

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That looks like a useful document, thanks Suzanne (and whoever posted it initially elsewhere!)


To be fair, I think it comes down to age with your 17 month old, but if your 3 year old is advanced as you say, she really ought to be beginning to understand. We start children in Pre-school at 2.5 years and, although this can cause headaches sometimes, we find that the new, usually more challenging environment, distracts them from any such behaviour patterns that may have become habitual.


I would suggest this may be your way forward, although I sympathise as biting is such a difficult and emotive thing to deal with.


Let us know how you get on!



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There is obviously something that precipitates the behaviour, has the keyworker spent time tracking the child, does it happen at a particular time of the day or is it child related. I know that it is hard but your ratio should be 1:4 for the older child and 1:3 for the younger one so it strikes me that the staff in the room need to be on top of this and paying particularly close attention to what the antecedent is and how best they can monitor her actions and to stay close by and praise the behaviour you want when she gets herself in a tizz but doesn't bite. The only thing about moving her up is that you need to look at your adult:staff ratios - will this help the situation if the biting doesn't stop. We all know that biting generally stops in time but as you say some children can really pack a punch with their bite drawing blood. We had a child who would bite and bit very hard - it meant that we had to be close by at all times, it was normally over sharing a toy or getting something she wanted off another child. One child we had was really territorial over the garage and cars - we solved this by making an area next to the garage with a smaller garage and let him choose the cars he wanted - he was quite happy and eventually understood that he needed to share his toys and topped biting.

It is really hard but it needs staff to be really vigilent and that means perhaps putting another member of staff into the room to help make sure that this doesn't happen. Parents I know do get cross and sometimes quite rightly so especially if the bite is on the face. Although we all know just how quick they can be.

Good luck its very difficult but I am sure you will get there soon and it will all be forgotten about just as soon too.


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I know that the staff are very vigilant at all times but thay are just not quite quick enough without actually trailing the children. The biting happens so quickly too. The older one has other behavioural problems too and this makes it extra hard. We unfortunately don't have the staffing levels at present to give both rooms an extra staff member as much as I would love to. :o Saying that though we lose alot of funded chldren at the end of next week freeing up some staff to maybe help out in the other rooms.

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There was a very interesting article in 'eye' magazine in August 05, it was by Karen Sullivan and she pointed out that research has broken biters down into categories i.e. the experimental biter - simply want to touch, smell and taste other people in order to learn about the world; the frustrated biter - lack skills to cope with situations; the threatened biter - feel endangered so bite in self-defence; the power biter - strong need for autonomy and control (for these children the response they see from biting strongly reinforces the behaviour).


Basically the suggested underpinning strategy should be ‘A child should not experience any reward for biting –not even the ‘reward’ of negative attention’. The article goes on to suggest that for children age two and over they could benefit from assisting in the first aid process by demonstrating ‘gentle touching’ to encourage nurturing behaviour (being careful not to make this into a game), or removing the biter from the situation without dramatic movements, attention, or an emotional response that could provide the negative reinforcement.


It is stressed that you should always look at the context of the biting incident and try to work out the motivation e.g. teething, a need for power or an attention seeking mechanism. And to be aware of age-specific biting!


Sorry for the lecture, but I would strongly recommend this article if you can get a back issue (EYE Vol 7 No. 4 August 2005)

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All very good advice and useful to have a 'hand-out' for parents.


I also personally think that there should be more time given to the 'victims' on understanding the situation, obviously depending on age,

I have a problem at the moment of older boys teasing, another boy, the 'victim', who is called names, he 'promotes' the teasing by crying / whinging loudly, thus giving the 'teasers' the response they crave and therefore encouraging them to continue.


In all cases of anti-social behaviour I spend quite a bit of time explaining to the 'victim' how he/she can deal with it, ie if a child is hurt / bitten / has a toy snatched etc from him/her, I say to them to say out loudly to the perpetrator, NO, DON'T DO THAT TO ME. In the case of the teaser, today, i told the 'victim' stop making that noise, say to the teaser, YOU ARE WRONG, and turn your head away ( he wouldn't understand if i just said, ignore him) after a few attempts, ie: He stopped behaving like a victim, he did as I suggested and as soon as he turned his head away, the teasing boys stopped ( which I clearly pointed out to the victim, that his response had worked)

These strategies all take time, but I feel children need to be given a voice, to be shown how to respond to bullying, to help ensure they do not as I proverbally say, have 'victim' written across their foreheads for all to take advantage of. I teach them the strength of a firm "NO", I am not going to allow you to do that to me, I deserve better.



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