Mom Says She ‘Lost A Friend’ Because Of How She Reacted When Her Toddler Bit Another Kid

Should she have apologized?

A child is biting an arm. Shutterstock / Antonio Gravante

Children sometimes bite and don't realize what they're doing is wrong. The responsibility is on the parents to correct bad behavior. So, when a mom's reaction to her toddler biting another child was not enough for another mom, it soured their relationship.

The incident was neither expected nor something the mom was prepared for, given that her child had never acted this way with friends before. However, how she handled it apparently lost her a friend. She shared the story to Reddit's "r/Parenting," which is described as a "place to discuss the ins and out as well as ups and downs of child-rearing."


She 'lost a friend' because of how she reacted when her toddler bit another kid.

"My almost 2-year-old bit her friend at a play date and now the mom said we're not a good fit," she wrote. 

Her approach to disciplining the child involved saying "no biting" and a brief timeout. However, since her child wasn't old enough to be able to say "I'm sorry" yet, she didn't think that part was important. On top of that, she felt that the bite mark, which was on the child's skin for five minutes, wasn't that serious.

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From her point of view, the reaction seemed appropriate for the situation. She addressed the biting with her child, took appropriate action to discourage future incidents, and maintained control. However, her friend's perception was starkly different.


"Apparently that wasn't reacting enough. I don't know if I'll ever be able to maintain a friendship because of the biting," she wrote. 

mom lost a friend because child bit another child reddit postPhoto: Reddit

The mother was deeply concerned about not only her friend's response but also her ability to manage her child's behavior in social situations. She emphasized that her daughter usually understands her wrongdoing and that the timeouts have been effective.


"It is developmentally appropriate to bite and it's not encouraged or allowed in any way at home but I don't know what reaction my mom friend wanted from me. I was holding my 4-month-old too so it limited my ability to do much else," she wrote.

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Many people replied to the post offering their own advice on how she should have approached the situation.

Most agreed that even though her child can't apologize, she can. So, the onus is on her to make up for her child's actions.

comments on mom who didn't discipline toddler for bitingPhoto: Reddit


"While your kid can't physically apologize, you can. Doesn't sound like you bothered to apologize as well. Heck, even in this post, you're treating this so casually. And what does your 'keeping the kid with you for 2 minutes' achieve? Will that magically stop your kid from biting? No it won't. And that's what the other mom reacted to," one person wrote.

The question of what constituted an adequate reaction was at the heart of the situation. The mother clearly viewed the incident as an unfortunate but normal phase of development. She reasoned that her approach, including timeouts, had been effective, and she expressed a willingness to work on the issue at home. Yet, for the other mother and some observers, the response was far from sufficient.

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"Your child might not be able to apologize, but YOU can," another person reiterated. "I'd have probably done the same thing as this mom. Kids will be kids, but your reaction and your comment about it 'not being that bad' indicates that you're not concerned about stopping the behavior and it's likely to happen again."


Following the criticisms from the Reddit community, she edited her post to reflect how she's proactively addressing the situation.

She noted her plans to teach sign language for "sorry," buy educational books and address the lack of speech at her child's checkup.

Parenting isn't easy, and there's no learner's manual on how to do it correctly. Every parent makes mistakes, but it's how each rectifies and moves on from it that defines them. 

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Ethan Cotler is a writer and frequent contributor to YourTango living in Boston. His writing covers entertainment, news, and human interest stories.