My 17 month old DS Cal has decided it is great fun to hit one of my cats with his toys, particularly a blow up bowling pin. I know it's not going to hurt her, really, but she hates it and runs and he chases her laughing. And this thing does have a cardboard disk in bottom that hurts if you get hit with that part. I don't want him to think that's okay. Especially since he has more dangerous toys. I've tried the positive approach "Be gentle, pet the kitty, love the kitty" etc. Demonstrating for him. I've tried the negative approach "Leave the kitty alone! Don't hit the kitty!!!" I've tried distraction or taking him to another room, but he gets this in his head and won't leave her alone! He goes right back after her. No distraction really works.
He doesn't bother my other cat (Daisy) at all. But Daisy is really docile and sweet. We get on to Reesie alot for jumping on counter tops and getting into food and stuff (she was a rescue stray who was used to dumpster diving and we haven't been able to break her of it.) But we've NEVER hit her. Where is he getting this from? I don't think it's meanness, I think it's a cause and effect fascination thing. She's scratched him a couple of times, and I thought that might be a deterrent of natural consequences, but though he cried at the time, it didn't seem to deter him later. I don't want either one of them to get hurt. She usually runs from him and takes it, but every now and then she'll turn on him, and I worry she might get his eye or something.
Plus, I just plain don't want him to think teasing and hurting animals is fun!!!! What do I do???
DS born 07/05/2003
DD born 3/24/2005
I read an article years ago that said something about toddlers not really knowing that they're hurting a pet when they hit it, pull its ears, tail, etc. That they don't understand the concept. Wish I could remember 'cuz my 18 month old hits me or pulls my hair when he gets frustrated. He's fine with the dog -- gives him kisses, treats, pats him.
I would go for tolerance zero in this case. EVERYTIME your child hits the cat you should tell him "NO"! You do not hit the cat" and give him some time out (ex: on a chair - with no toys or tv etc) and you can put beside him a timer or an hourglass so he knows when time out is finished. Do not give him any attention during this time. If he doesn't stay there, put him in his crib, or playpen (again with no toys or favorite blanket). You have to be very consistent and PATIENT . Good luck!!
I must agree with Mica. You must at this age teach your child that the cat is something special that has feelings too. When he does this perhaps you can start out by yelling a startling "NO" and proceed to pick up the cat and hug it showing your son appropriate behavior. Make a fuss as if the cat has been injured perhaps even saying, "Oh, cat....Cal shouldn't hurt you and he's sorry for hitting you with the pin." If this don't work then I would go on to the time out method (kids this age may not understand time out although it is a wonderful thing if used consistently) You do not want to laugh or give your son the impression that this is cute behavior...otherwise he will soon learn it is acceptable and next thing will be hitting the cat with a bat which could potentially be considered to be assault with a deadly weapon ....Goody
Last edited by goody2shuz; 12-09-2004 at 06:20 PM.
I agree with Mica too! I know you say that time outs aren't working...but I bet that if you do it every single time without fail, (considering how much your son is doing this) it will work. He hits the cat. You say, "we don't hit!" and immediately take him to another room to be alone for a minute or two. Your son may not understand that what he does hurts the cat. But he should understand that he is doing something that mommy is telling him not to.
The kindest thing you can do for this poor cat is to try and find another home for it before your son really hurts it.If he absolutely cannot stop himself from hitting and terrorizing the cat then I think getting rid of the cat would be the best thing for now.It does not take much to really injure a cat and the possible permanent damage or scaring that could happen to your son when this cat finally decides it has had enough may not be pretty either.We went through this same thing when my youngest kept picking on the cat.I finally had had enough as my son, no matter what we did to try and stop this,just would not leave the poor cat alone.i thought the best thing to do for him and the cat was to try and find it another home where it could live in peace.It was very hard as we were all very attatched to mr kitty, but i didn't want to see this problem end in any sort of tradgedy for my son or the cat.One day that cat WILL have enough and really let loose on your son if the current situation does not change.If you know someone who would like to have a new cat, i would send it packing asap.I know it wont be easy but something has to give.Good luck,Marcia
But he should understand that he is doing something that mommy is telling him not to.
He does. That's my problem. My son is wonderful, I couldn't ask for a better kid 80% of the time. Social, silly, happy, loving, active..... But that other 20%, he is so incredibly strong willed. I KNOW he understands me, but he acts like he never heard me so he can continue his actions. I can tell many times that he's willfully testing his limits. It just gets exhausting. I know consistancy is the key and incredibly important at this age, but he makes me second guess myself. "What am I doing wrong???" All the discipline advice I read seem to have to magic bullet cures to modify behavior at this age, but they don't work on my child! Meanwhile, I know tons of kids who dissolve into tears at the word "No" where my son takes it as a challenge.
My mom says I was just like him, and it took her until I was about 4 or 5 to finally "mold" my will into something more healthy. I've heard some horror stories from my childhood. I guess I just need encouragement to "keep at it" because I feel myself getting tired or constant repetition, but I don't want to give in to him, because then he's getting the signal "If I just ignore mommy enough times, she'll eventually give up and I'll get to do what I want."
I'll keep this up and see what happens. I hope it doesn't come to giving her away. I'm afraid (this area is VERY cat saturated) I wouldn't be able to find a home for her. Cats are euthanized very quickly in this area if you give them to a shelter.
DS born 07/05/2003
DD born 3/24/2005
Consistency and NOT giving in is the key. A lot of parents say "I tried it but it didn't work". How many times did you try it, once? twice?. Children are very bright. Your child can try it 20 times before he/she starts figuring out that is game is not working anymore, IF and that's a big IF the parent doesn't give in when the child is starting to act out or tells him NO 5 times before giving him/her time out. A lot of the time it can become worse before it get's better. And then, when he or she gets it, he/she can start testing again just to make sure the rules are still the same. EASIER SAID THAN DONE
Take the toys away, not just some of them, all of them for a day. When you give ONE back, and he hits the cat with it,establish eye contact, sternly say NO, and remove that toy again. At 17 months I wouldn't trust he understands exactly what you are saying to him, but he will get the cause and effect of if you hit the cat, you don't have toys.
Be consistent...that's the hardest part. Make sure the other adults around follow the same rules. I don't think kids are like their parents at certain ages because of genetics....you have a chance to parent differently and get better results quicker.
Zero tolerance on this one. Oh, another thing, don't discuss this approach when he is within ear shot!
I agree mostly with what the other people are saying. Teach him respectful behaviour towards the cat. when he hits the cat console the cat (if the cat will let you) as you would if your son were hurt. Take away whatever toy he has hit the cat, make sure he sees you putting it somewhere he cannot get to, keep it away for a few days, if he hits with it again simply take it away again. If this doesn't work every single time he does it put him into a time out, it doesn't need to be for long, 1 min at the very most...put him in a quiet area of the house, with absolutly no stimulation, stay close enough to keep an eye on him, but he shouldn't be able to see you. When it is time to get out say something like are you ready to say sorry to kitty, get him to kiss or hug the kitty (gently of course) and say he is sorry (if he can't say sorry than a kiss or hug is good enough).
like was said, do not put up with it ever. If he is tired and is acting out because he is tired than i would put him for a time out, get him to say sorry then put him down for a nap...i know my kids always acted out when sleepy. Once he figures out he cannot get away with it he should stop, it may take a few weeks of consistant disipline for it to see a change, but it'll be worth it. Hurting the cat is not a habit you want him to keep up, at his age learning to respect animals, as well as people, is important. Also, when the cat jumps on the counter or another forbidden place try not to react vocaly, try to just get up and put the cat gently back on the floor. Even though you may not hit the cat he could be picking up on your fustration with the cat over jumping on the counter.
Siren....I hate to tell you but this behavior of wearing your mother down until she gives in is something that will repeat itself when your son is a teenager. You go through the terrible twos but nobody prepares you for the turbulent teens
Start perfecting your ways now because you will need the same tools to use when your son is a teen. (I am using them now with my daughters) Consistency is once again the key...only when he is a teen you will be able to spell out what is expected of him and the consequences if he fails to follow the expectations.
You are not your son's friend...you have the job of raising him to bethe kind, considerate, loving, giving, independent, well balanced being that will be our future. There's enough violence in the world today...make it your goal to get him to understand at this early age that violence is not tolerated and that every life is precious and should be treated as so.....Goody
I know your pain, dear...when I was a young child I would always find it amusing to smack the cat. And when he would bite or scratch me I'd chase him down and smack him harder. My mother never told me it was a bad thing or a good thing to hit animals. Today, about 12 years later, my cat is naturall defensive (gets uneasy when picked up), but he has grown to love me, and I love cats.
But not all kids turn out like that, and they may continue to abuse animals, which can sometimes lead to abusing humans (I used to smack the boys in my class around too XD).
Oh, and one final note...don't tell your son to bite back if Kitty bites, because then he might bite you or friends (and take it from me...a mouthful of fur is not fun! )
On Kitty's behalf, I'll also mention this: something you've probably heard of, popularly called "tail-pull syndrome"; it is the injury of the cat's spine from very sharp, sudden pulls of the tail.