How can I get my daycare to better protect my child from a problem child?
Q: Daycare injuries from one child to another don't seem to be receiving enough attention to stop the behavior. Three weeks of progressive biting all from one child. Options?
A: Dear heothooper:
The general problem is that daycare situations may not have enough staff members to adequately manage the interactions among the children; in addition, some daycare situations may not have properly trained staff members--so that there might be enough staff persons present, but they lack the understanding of when they should intervene when one child is physically aggressive, and how they can do so effectively.
I would start by requesting a face-to-face meeting with the daycare staff--ideally including the people who run the outfit as well as the staff people actually in the room with your child. Explain that you are upset with your child being bitten and ask them what the game-plan is to address it. Try not to sound critical and blaming, but supportive and enthusiastic to brainstorm some constructive solutions. See what kind of response you get. My own suggestion is that the staff should immediately interrupt the biting and physically remove the biter from the context in which the biting is taking place--saying calmly and firmly, "No no, we don't bite." If the biter continues to bite, this child may need more intensive staff supervision and perhaps more limited opportunities to interact with other children.
The staff may be capable of solving the problem, or the problem may solve itself on its own.
If your child is 3 or 4 and old enough to plan a strategy with you verbally, you might suggest that your child steer clear of the biter for a few weeks and play with someone else instead.
If the biting continues to be a problem, you may need to consider alternative arrangements for your child. Allowing your child to be injured is not good psychologically or physically.
Elizabeth Berger MD
Child Psychiatrist and author of "Raising Kids with Character"
Answered by Dr. Elizabeth Berger