I would not talk to someone else's child - I don't know what issues that child has, frankly, my business is not with the child, it's with the gym. Either they figure out a way not to have this happen, or they lose my business, and I would make it known why they lost my business, and why I will not be referring anyone to them.
Kids bite, and lord knows my kids have been bitten (although they were not biters themselves). Sure, fine, I accepted apologies from parents and caregivers. But what I really wanted to know was how was it going to be prevented in the future.
I agree with this.
I've seen the suggestion to confront the child several times, and it really truly baffles me that such is encouraged on an etiquette forum. That falls under disciplining someone else's child, which is almost never right, especially when the children are small and you don't know them or what issues they have.
There is an adage that safety trumps etiquette, and this is true, but in the case of small children, I believe there are very few cases where this applies to the child instead of the parent.
Talk to the parent. Talk to the center. Threaten to escalate however high you need to with both. But it surprises me that an etiquette forum would promote confronting and or disciplining a small child not your own.
And as for this...
Re: the bite-him/her-back approach:
At my church, when I was kid, there was a kid who pinched people. Hard. He was NOT a toddler; he was about 6 or 7. And he did it because he liked he feeling of getting a rise out of people. He'd pinch grownups just as easily as he'd pinch kids. His parents would admonish him, and punish him, but that was never enough to make him stop--it was a price he was willing to pay for the reaction he got. So after about 4 weeks of this, my mother grabbed him by the arm and said, "Joe, if you ever pinch me or one of my kids, I am going to pinch you back. So that you know how much it hurts. You are warned."
And the next Sunday he pinched her. She grabbed him and pinched him really *hard*--no half measures whatsoever. Really, really hard. (He'd already shown that he'd put up with a lot to keep doing this, and she was determined that this would be the END of it.) He ran to his parents who vaguely patted him in sympathy and said, "sorry it hurts, now you know."
He stopped. For good. And after a little bit, he became somewhat pleasant to know. But it took a LONG time before all the other people at church stopped disliking him.
Maybe it worked. Maybe the kid was a terror. But your mother physically abused a child who was not her own.
Just because something works doesn't make it right. Just because the parents didn't freak out about it doesn't make it right.
By all standards, that is just a wrong thing to do.
Yelling and screaming at my husband and child make them do what I want them to do. Doesn't make it right.
My mother physically abused me to bruises and the result was an extremely compliant and super polite daughter who would bend over backwards to make her parents happy. But though their methods worked, they were not *right*. They are very wrong methods to instill good behaviour. This is definitely one - even though it worked.
The correct thing to do is to make sure that both the center and the mother of the biter know in absolutely no uncertain terms
that this behaviour is absolutely and entirely unacceptable
and will under no means be tolerated. Make sure that you do all the followup necessary and complain to all appropriate authorities if the biter is continued to be allowed in the center. But this should be done with the parents and with those who run the center - not with the child.
The child doesn't know you and you have no relationship
Although it's sad, for the most part, we no longer live in an "it takes a village to raise a child" sort of society, and you are opening yourself up to all sorts of problems if you try to confront the child.