Daycare ecology

Feb 27 2013 Published by under [Et Al], LifeTrajectories

Every daycare has its own unique balance of individuals. The kids all take their roles: leader, follower, quiet, attention whore, crier, etc. Where your child fits into the room dynamics says little about them in the long term and can change as other kids come and go from the population. But there are certainly niches that are more or less desirable as a parent. This is particularly true WRT the predator / prey relationships.

If you have ever gone to pick up your child and been confronted with the dreaded "incident sheet" you immediately think "Fuck, please let my kid be the one who got bitten." Whereas that may be counterintuitive, you have to bear in mind the alternative. If you have the class biter, you basically feel like you are raising this:


Our first child was the preferred prey of the class biter. As much as it sucked to pick up our daughter looking like she lost a battle with a lamprey, we were also sympathetic to the parents who had to sign the "yes, we realize our child is a bath salts incident away from being Florida Man" sheet. You can't reason with a toddler and explain why it's bad to cannibalize your friends. They don't get it. You can discipline them after an incident, but it takes time for them to change their behavior. As a parent all you can do is wait and avoid eye contact with the other parents of kids in the room, because some get it and some think you spend your every waking moment teaching your child to devour the competition.

This is all relevant this week as the tables have turned and we were faced with signing our first incident sheet from the predator's side. It sucks as much as we imagined.

19 responses so far

  • bashir says:

    do they tell the bitee parents who the biter was? I thought usually they don't say.

  • Alyssa says:

    We just had our first too - our son has gotten into kicking and shoving. Thankfully, they tell us it's completely normal for boys of this age and the others are doing it too, but still can be hard to take.

  • Our daycare doesn't tell you who the biter was. They always say something like: BlueEyes was bitten by 'a friend'. Yeah sure! 😉

  • proflikesubstance says:

    They don't reveal the predator's name, but these kids are just old enough to be able to tell you. We asked the Weer One who she bit and she squealed the child's name while making a chomping motion with her mouth. #goodtimes

  • Kalmia says:

    Oh man, I feel for you! Our kiddo almost got kicked out for biting and it sucked. It seemed like her behavior at daycare was totally out of our control. Punishing at home doesn't work if the teachers don't address the problem correctly. They would usually take her aside and read her a book to distract her (practically encouraging her to do it again). We also realized that almost all the bites happened right before lunch/nap time so she was probably tired & hungry. The main thing that helped us was moving her up to the next class with new teachers.

    We did get "teeth are not for biting" and read that book to her a LOT, and talked about alternatives to biting but for a kiddo <2 yrs, it's really hard to get them to use their words and think of alternatives to biting in the heat of the moment.

  • Joshua King says:

    I have three. The older two were mostly as cool as cucumbers through day care years (they are now 9 and 7). My youngest (4) was a destroyer of other childrens' worlds until about 4.5, now he's over it just like that. Kidz are funny.

  • rxnh says:

    Oh, man. I've been told, though I don't remember it, that I was the biter in preschool.
    Soldier on, it will pass.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Biting is a function of the number of Apple products in the home. So I hear anyway.

  • DJMH says:

    Ha ha! Our kid bit another one a few months ago. We talked with him about how even if someone else was making him mad, it was better to walk away, or stamp his foot, not bite.

    Turned out he was the door-holder that day, and he was holding the door open when another kid hit him. So he couldn't walk away, or even probably stamp his foot (*heavy* doors there). We had to admit to ourselves (not to him, obvs) that biting was just about his only recourse aside from nobly ignoring it.

    Ever since then, if we scold him for hitting another kid, he looks up at us with pure-as-driven-snow face and says, "But I didn't *bite* her!"

  • KateClancy says:

    My kiddo is the oversensitive one who is often the recipient. What I love about my preschool is how well they work on social and emotional learning, so they teach the recipients how to stand up for themselves and the biters how to find other ways to express themselves.

    The way you explained how your kid squealed and chomped when telling you what she did completely cracked my shit up, though.

  • arlenna says:

    Haha, DJMH, my kid says that too. "How was your day today?" "I didn't bite anyone!"


    Mine was both a biter and a bitee. As a biter, it was mostly when she'd just get generally overstimulated and overwhelmed. She used ot bite us on the legs if we were playing and got too wild, it was like she just couldn't help her little self. Now that she's 3, she doesn't bite anymore, and it doesn't seem like there are as many incident reports happening in their group in general as there used to be. They seem to have equilibrated together.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    The way you explained how your kid squealed and chomped when telling you what she did completely cracked my shit up, though.

    It cracked us up too, but we had to pretend like it didn't, not to encourage her. Parenting is filled with too many moments of stifled laughter to avoid reinforcement of bad behavior.

  • DrLizzyMoore says:

    Ah yes, this reminds me of a couple of nights ago, when my 3 year old was in the tub and my husband heard him yell out, 'Mama all done on the potty'.....POOP EVERYWHERE!!!!! #goodtimes

    Biting is tough. In our house, we are all about dinosaurs and sharks...clearly all things with BIG teeth. For a while, I found myself saying, 'you're a little boy, not a dinosaur' a lot. Now, it's about biting/eating food like dinosaurs. Beaners says things like, 'I eat salad like triceratops', 'I eat sausage like t-rex', 'I eat bread like iguanadon'.....I never knew that iguanadons had a proclivity towards bread, but if it gets him to eat a meal, we roll with it....whatever works, amirite?

  • DJMH says:

    Dr Lizzy, we are in the same stage! Ours insists on being an allosaurus, all the time, so for everything we serve him he asks if it's meat, because he knows allosaurus is a meat-eater. We end up saying, "Uh, yes, this is meat toast / meat tomatoes / meat quiche" or whatever.

    It does work for him to get eating, but then we have to remind him that good dinosaurs use forks.

  • Hermitage says:

    I continue to believe that anyone that believes in the innate superiority of humans over all animals hasn't spent enough time with kids under the age of 3 or so. We're a bunch of weirdass, opposable-thumbed, landsharks, no joke*.

    *Bears several (internal) scars from being bitten for having the temerity to separate baby predator from its prey.

  • becca says:

    Ha! Yes, the guilt of having a biter. Luckily, they were very mello about it at Roo's daycare; there was a strict rule about no biters who break the skin, but no freaking out about it otherwise. *I* felt terrible, though, because I taught him to bite. I mean, not as a conflict tool, but as an "oh look the mama dinosaur is gonna get you!" game thing, which is usually how it manifested at daycare.

    Our daycare is multiage. They managed my kid as best they could when he was the biggest in the 0-3 room, but he WAS fairly disruptive as an apex predator. Now that he is the youngest, I am much less worried about him being the aggressor, and it doesn't seem to be a problem. I've never worried much about him being prey though. Kinda feel like it teaches him character? Also, he's way tougher than I ever was.

  • proflikesubstance says:

    I think all kids are dealing with their environment and once it changes they adjust. I wasn't worried about my prey child and I'm not about my predator. They even out eventually.

  • Scientistmother says:

    What IS it with the # 2's?!' Bear is also the predator. Has been from the start. Last week my 4 yr nephew proclaimed he hates her bc of her constant biting, pinching & hair pulling.
    Monkey get so upset because she doesn't listen to his words.....

  • neuromusic says:

    we are deep into the daycare hunt.

    one of the daycares that we visited (a) has the biter help put a bandaid on the victim (regardless of the medical necessity) and (b) sends a note home to the parents of both kids involved BUT doesn't reveal which of the two kiddos was the biter and which was the victim

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