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Opinion Is it worse for your child to bite, or be bitten?

It now seems ‘the first bite’ has been added to the long list of modern-day childhood milestones.

IS IT WORSE for your child to bite, or be bitten?

Obviously neither is ideal but, alas, it appears that in modern day child rearing a biting incident or two is somewhat inevitable. Whereas when we were young, kids’ typical rites of passage included the first day at nursery school and the symbolic withdrawal of the stabilisers, it now seems ‘the first bite’ has been added to the long list of modern-day milestones.

I finally got the call today to say there had been a biting incident in the crèche. The first in nearly three years (She never had any such instances. He has only been in there a wet week. Bloody men).

There was that loaded pause as I wondered whether he had been perpetrator, or victim. And I have to admit, I was relieved when I heard he was the latter. Doesn’t say much for my maternal instincts really, does it? That I am more concerned over whether my child exhibited anti-social behaviour in public than whether they themselves have been attacked. In the face. Charming.

I was reassured that it didn’t break the skin (to the uninitiated like myself, that point appears pivotal) and that he was fine. I resisted the urge to ask whether he had bitten back, or given the child in question a good slap. As I feared that might illuminate aspects of my parenting philosophy best kept to myself.


By the time I collected him the formalities had well and truly kicked in. I was shown the ‘Policy on Children Biting’ which was inevitably slightly comical given you are dealing with babies who don’t know their own fingers from their toes, let alone the implications of their having breached a local ‘policy’. I wondered whether the culprit was now ‘on probation’ – God love the little fella (or girl, let’s not be sexist about it). And then thought the better of my own sarcasm when I read further into the policy and realised that kids can actually be asked to leave ‘until the biting phase has passed’. That’s got to be far more traumatic in itself, than the climax of any toddler squabble.

I asked the obvious question, out of curiosity more than anything else, as to who the culprit was. And was promptly directed to the part of The Policy which stated that the identity of both children will remain confidential ‘for each child’s protection’. I have to admit, at that point I (badly) stifled a laugh. Clearly there are concerns around vigilante parents taking on Dirty Harry roles, waiting at crèche gates to accost parents of the bit-or, or worst still the villain themselves. Scary thing is, there must have actually been cases like that, otherwise why the need for the policy?

So I did what any self-respecting parent would have done in the circumstances. En route home, I pumped his elder sister for information.


‘Yes, Mummy.’

‘What happened Andy today in crèche?’

‘He did a poo!’

‘And what eeeelse?’

‘He went in the garden.’

‘And what happened in the garden?’

‘He was hurted by ‘nother baby.’

‘Which baby?’

‘Teacher said not to tell tales. Mummy nosey parker. Can I have a biscuit?’

Fair enough. I considered myself suitably admonished by my three-and-a-half year old.

So the mystery remains unsolved. And the Lioness in me feels slightly uneasy about not being in receipt of such information. Feels like it should be my job to know. (Probably something to do with the subliminal guilt I feel at putting him in there in the first place). Even though the logical part of my brain knows it is inconsequential and ultimately none of my business.

Daddy, of course, thought the whole thing hilarious. That his son had, at the grand old age of 20 months, been involved in his first scrap. Couldn’t believe such a song and dance had been made about it. Men, eh? Get themselves involved in scraps, and then fail to understand why their actions carry repercussions. He asked him whether he had any plans for revenge as he watched him shove pieces of pasta up his nose over dinner. God, I hope not.

In all seriousness, I really hope that he doesn’t wait in the long grass only to take a chomp at his nemesis in days to come. It’s bad enough having to deal with his sister’s kleptomania from local supermarkets/play areas/friends’ houses (not to mention her propensity to ram her tricycle into the sides of BMWs). The last thing we need is a son with a biting fetish. Anyone know whether Mothercare stock child muzzles?

Claire Micks is an occasional writer. Read more of her columns here

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