Aussie Childcare Network Forum • Biting in almost 4 year old toddler
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Biting in almost 4 year old toddler

Posted: Sat Aug 28, 2021 7:04 pm
by Natalie Ab
Hi everyone,

I am unsure if I am posting in the right forum but here is goes anyway. I’m not a childcare educator however I am a behavioural psychologist and a board certified behaviour analyst. My son turns 4 next month and has been in childcare since he was over a year old. Generally speaking, he is a beautiful child, intelligent and has a flourishing personality. He has his own set of interests he loves completing puzzles even way beyond his age group, he loves building things, loves using his little mind to put broken things back together, he is absolutely fascinated by insects. A bit of background history, he didn’t really have behavioural concerns until about a year ago where it was first made known to me that he had been biting children in a service that he was at for three weeks. I was quick to remove him and placed him into a family day care as I thought it would be better for him to get some more 1:1 supervision and attention in a smaller setting. Granted he was your average toddler and did silly things but no incidences of biting for his entire enrolment. Loved going and begged to go every single day. I ended up cancelling his enrolment as we moved interstate as I was offered another role and part of this meant finding him a new school. I enrolled him into one which was close to home it looked really good. He was enrolled for three weeks and I began to notice a regression - he was fully toilet trained but had began wetting himself both at home and at the school he was just enrolled into multiple times a day. I usually had for a long time disciplined him with time out but noticed during time out he had been wetting himself. Unsure to what was causing the regression I worked on going back to toileting methods such as hourly toilet trips etc but he continued to have 3-4 accidents when at school. He also hated going to school and would beg me to take him home which I found super strange. I asked the educators repeatedly to ensure he is regularly prompted to use the toilet to avoid accidents whilst they would say ok the accidents continued and some times I would collect him from school not wearing pants and a baby nappy! I was also told he had been biting other kids which I was super shocked by. Through further investigation the 2IC of the centre I came to understand that every time he had been doing something wrong he was physically removed from his classroom with force and placed into the front office area which was locked and gated - unsure for how long but I do know that it was happening up to 4x per day. I also learnt that he had been wetting himself whilst he was placed into the gated area which made sense as to why he had been wetting himself in time out at home. It was so that he could escape the stressful situation and he learnt it could get him out and into another area. I removed him
From the service and filed a complaint with the department of education there is an investigation ongoing atm for physical abuse and neglect. I proceeded to keep him at home for three weeks but life forced me back into work (we all need money to survive) I found another childcare and enrolled him. I explained he had been subjected to trauma in the previous centre explained that there was an investigation and gave a heads up that he may or may not exhibit challenging behaviour as a result of this. I hoped he would be all good but not to my surprise whilst he loves his new school and begs to go every single morning he has also bitten the same two boys (who are both his friends) 15x in the last three weeks. He has also bitten two children. This has been raised with me every single time it happens and I collect him but I am told usually the bites are unprovoked there was no precursor behaviour whatsoever which doesn’t make sense to me there is always a function behind a behaviour which drives that behaviour, I’ve told them to please observe for triggers so I can work with them on the issue however they seem to lack the skill to be able to do this. Whenever I give a strategy for them to trial they claim to be doing all those things already. They have requested help from an inclusion officer who advised that they should increase their supervision to avoid it happening (this is the only information I had been provided with) apparently they will be coming out to do an observation next week in person. I think it’s great inclusion support will be coming to assist and provide more information as I don’t seem to be getting much of it which is really irritating. I have also been told to my shock that they cannot afford to supervise him constantly with additional staff and that I should think of going back to family childcare. I was also told that he stresses the teachers out a lot because this is something they have never had to deal with, it was also recommended that I collect him earlier to reduce the stress load on staff that he is apparently causing with their constant need to supervise him (which did not make sense because if you are closely supervising someone they would not have the chance to bite two kids in my opinion) - the centre manager painted him out to be a devil of a child because of the biting. Not one single positive thing was shared about him except 1 point being that he loves to share his toys which was so aggravating to hear. I really don’t want to go down the path of changing schools again but I really think the staff and centre manager are just not skilled enough to manage behaviour or behaviour stemming from trauma which is in itself aggravating as I had explained his circumstances.

The point I guess I’m trying to make is I don’t want to place him back into fdc I’d rather he learn to be in larger settings so he can start school in 2023 but I’m also concerned that this will continue to happen because staff are not skilled enough to know how to handle it. Please no judgement - genuinely asking for advice. Thank you

Re: Biting in almost 4 year old toddler

Posted: Wed Sep 01, 2021 3:02 pm
by Butterflyblue
Hi there,

Firstly sorry to hear you had a negative experience in care and people mistreated your child and behaved unprofessionally.

If he is starting school in 2023 you have a year - and a bit of a window between now and then to I guess make things easier for you both and make changes if you want to.

Behaviour issues
Behavior issues in childcare can be extremely complex with home life and goings on in childcare potentially being triggers. It's hard with young children because they may not be able to communicate exactly what happened to them.
Based on what you said is it possible that the biting is something your son saw at childcare and is copying - happens a lot. Sometimes in very large groups it isn't possible for staff to be aware and across of every interaction happening at any one time so things do slip through. As children get older 3+ there is sometimes also supervision from a distance so to speak to encourage their independence and allow for organic experiences - but based on what staff have said that's probably not what is happening here.

Additional staff
Unfortunately it is very common that childcares don't want to add extra staff above the legal ratio. After the free childcare package and the ongoing pandemic smaller places in particular are struggling financially across the sector so they may not be able to afford help. One suggestion is for you and your centre to look into any other government funded support available. Your local department of education and training or outreach service may be able to help there.

As an educator I wouldn't recommend that you stay with a service that doesn't work well for you and or your child, especially if the staff express to you they aren't able or wanting to do their job in any way.

There are options out there and other types of care where you can get the large group settings such as kinder (assuming you currently use long day care - ldc?)
One option could be to move to a different childcare, perhaps a smaller one where there would be more supervision by default.

With kinder you may find one that has a program with the school you son will be going/ where you want him to go which can assist with the transition. There might also be quite of the few the kids going from the same childcare to school so familiar faces for both of you and possibly some friends too.

2 childcares
Have you considered splitting care between a fdc and ldc/kindergarten? This way you can get the best of both

As your child was happy in fdc another option could be to find a fdc with an educational program with regular (weekly) playgroup and local library sessions. This would provide the large group interaction that you are looking for.

Quality care
If you haven't already you can look up the rating of any service (ldc, kinder and fdc) and compare.
Online reviews are also helpful to see what parents think of the staff, facilities etc if you are looking for a new place.

If you want to say whereabouts you are roughly, more than happy to recommend childcares including fdc's near you if I can.

Hope that's helpful let me know if you have any questions 😊