My child has been biting.

A mother writes in an e-mail on July 12:

I have read what you had to say about toddlers biting.

However I have a 2 year old that is very smart. She speaks in full sentences and can sing her ABCs and count to 20.

She has started to identify letters and numbers. My issue is that one of the parents said that she fears that her daughter might start to become afraid to attend school.

I am not happy that my daughter is biting I am unsure how to handle this with the daycare center. Today alone she has had 3 biting issues and one yesterday. We are under new management as of a week ago. My child had stopped biting and is at it again. She is still teething and is awaiting surgery for 2nd set of tubes and her adenoids to be removed.

Any ideas you can give me would be great.

A couple of thoughts and questions:

Has the change in management at the center caused any changes in the day to day routine of the children? Has the change in management caused anxiety in the teaching staff? It may be that this has influenced biting behaviors in a couple of ways: 1.) your child may be sensitive to the anxiety staff are feeling; 2.) the staff may be less focused on the children—despite their best efforts–because of the anxiety they are feeling; or 3.) the changes in the daily routine in and of themselves may be causing your daughter to feel anxiety and revert to inappropriate ways of dealing with her feelings and with classroom conflicts.

The other thing—which seems quite possible based on the limited information you provide—is that her continuous ear infections have had an influence on her biting behavior. Children with frequent ear infections can sometimes act out of the discomfort or pain. Think about yourself when you have a nagging pain; are you as kind, gentle, and patient as you are at other times? That may be part of what is happening. Children with frequent ear infections also sometimes develop bad communication habits. That is, when they were having trouble hearing and language was somewhat delayed, they found coping strategies that worked for them. For example, children with ear infections sometimes require that you look at them face to face so that they can understand you. Even when they are between infections and hearing, they sometimes require this. This example of a poor listening behavior may be something that you accommodate for automatically but do the other children? Do the teachers in her classroom? Unfortunately, even though your daughter has excellent verbal skills now she may still be relying on old habits.

You may want to use her excellent verbal skills as a tool to overcome biting. When does she bite? If she is biting in conflicts with other children, you can help develop several phrases that she can use with the other children rather than biting. You may want to discuss with her teachers what phrases could be helpful.

Unfortunately, despite the information you share, I don’t know your daughter, I don’t fully under the context in which she spends her days, and so my responses are at best educated generalizations. I hope that I have provided some insights that will help you with your daughter.

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