My 3 yr old hurts animals and I dont know what to do. It almost seems he has split personalities angel/evil. We had a kitten once that we had to give away because he almost killed her 3 times. Now he has been tormenting my mothers poor dog. He slammed a huge rock down on his head last week and when we asked him why he said that the dog was on his chalk drawing. Today I found the poor dog cornered while my son poked him in the eye over and over with a play sword. I dont know what to do! I have tried time outs, talking with him, and even a spank on the bottom. Nothing seems to work with this child. He is normally very hyper and has a hard time getting along with cousins, he is rude to his father and grandparents, and spends so much time in timeout I feel like the poor boy isnt going to have a good childhood. Sometimes I cry at night because I dont want my husband to go to work the next day. I just dont know what to do. I am 6 mos pregnant and I am sooooo worried that he will hurt this baby. Please, please, any advise, or help, or anything would be great.
DD born 5/25/05
Jen, I would urge you to get professional help for your son ASAP! Torturing animals is one of the cardinal warning signs. This is NOT normal childhood behavior. Talk to your pediatrician. Tell him this is happening repeatedly. He might suggest a thorough evaluation by a neurologist. At the minimum, your son needs a through psychological evaluation and some play therapy. Is it possible that your son has been abused at some time without your knowing it?
ok totally agree that you need to take your child for help, i have a 5 year old who went through a little stage of this (when i was in a violent relationship myself.) but as soon as she realised it hurt the other person animal or whatever she stopped and became very caring. You have to deal with this before the next baby
I totally agree with index.This child has some big issues here that need to be dealt with by a professional asap.You cannot have your son in his current state anywhere near a newborn baby.God only knows what could happen to your baby.when did this behavior start?Please call your primary or his pediatrician to get this process started today.I wish you luck.hopefully they can find out just what is causing this behavior and somehow correct it or treat it.Marcia
Just an update. Dad and I meet the shrink tonight. I need to brainstorm and write things down. Last night my sister heard the muffled cries of her 10 month old and ran in the room to find my son sitting on the babies face. I need help. The last doc we saw thought that he was bi-polar and thought they would start him on meds asap. I have always been against those drugs but I am at my breaking point with this child and I will take anything that may help. The boy doesn't even sleep anymore. I find him playing in his room at 2,3,4 in the morning. sigh. Im still open for suggestions...anything...really. lol
DD born 5/25/05
Do you have any idea why your son is like this? When his problems started? Has he been exposed to violence, family disputes? As for the sleep issues, what method have you used in the past to get him to sleep? Presumably he's sleeping in his own bed in his own room? The more detail you give, the easier it is to help.
Hopefully the meds will help. Remember, you can always stop them at anytime. Seems to me like your son needs behavioral therapy, though, has the shrink not suggested this too?
He is my stepson and was taken away from his mother 2 years ago and placed in state custody for 7 mos. Dad and I got custoday dec 03. He was neglected and possibly abused maybe even sexually. He has a history of severe mentall illness on his mothers side so we are leaning towards meds and also, of course, behavioral therapy.
Bed time goes like this.
In fact he cant fall asleep if we forget one of those. Getting him to fall asleep isnt always the problem. The problem is he wakes up in the middle of the night and plays. Who knows for how long. Yes he does have his own room/bed.
I just get tired sometimes. Last night he only slept for about 8 hours and he is bouncing off the walls we are trying to give him a lil caffiene today to see if that helps take the edge off.
DD born 5/25/05
He was neglected and possibly abused maybe even sexually.
Just reading his history, this would certainly explain his behavior. If he was mistreated, he has learned that that is the way to behave, so he mistreats animals and other children. From his point of view, his behavior makes perfect sense, he probably doesn't understand this is wrong.
Sounds like he needs intensive therapy and a loving stable home environment. It's wonderful that you can catch it early and hopefully turn things around for him.
One thing that I've noticed with my daughter is that diet affects behavior. If she eats anything with sugar in it, her behavior deteriorates noticeably. If I feed her healthy foods and has regular mealtimes, she is a much easier child to handle. We really avoid sugar and caffeine.
About the sleep, would it help if he slept in bed with you? Considering what he's been though in his life, it might be a wonderful secure thing for him to wake up and see mom and dad and hopefully sleep better. Of course, it might disturb your sleep. Probably because he was neglected, he learned to self-soothe from an early age, it is so sad thinking of him waking up and playing by himself. Probably as a baby he woke up in the middle of the night and cried and cried and no one answered. My daughter's almost 4 and she still sleeps in the family bed, she sleeps about 11 hours a night. If she wakes up, we are right there and tell her 'it's ok, it's sleep time, go back to sleep' and she does. If he got enough sleep every night, his daytime behavior would no doubt improve.
About the timeouts, personally I am not a big fan of timeouts, although I know they are popular. When he was sitting on your sister's baby's face and poking that dog's eyes, probably it was all just a matter of fascination for him, maybe he really did not understand that what he was doing was wrong. I caught my daughter 'playing' with a slug today. She saw it as a fascinating object and did not understand when she was hurting it or that stepping on it was bad. Children need to be taught. I had to explain to her that the slug felt pain just like we do. When we first got a cat, she had no idea what to do with her. I taught her 'this is the way we stroke the cat, she's purring, that means she's happy'. When she pulled the cat's tail and the cat tried to bite her I again explained 'when she tries to bite you, that means she's mad and that you are hurting her, pulling her tail hurt her'. With the dog, an explanation of why the stick poking his eye would hurt him. Your son probalby doesn't understand that sitting on a baby's face can stop the baby from breathing. I have a good book on the body and have showed my daughter the lungs and explained what air is needed for and how it all works. You could sit down your son and explain that blocking the baby's mouth stops the baby from getting air and the baby could turn blue and get sick etc. Explanations are so very important, and are especially good at 3 years and up because children of that age start to understand reason.
If your son is in timeout all the time, he might start to think of himself as a 'bad' person and behave even worse. He needs to think of himself as basically a 'good' person, but someone with lots to learn.
Your son needs intervention NOW!! Without it he will grow up and hurt others the way he was hurt. It will be too late then...
You need an extremely proactive therapist. This is urgent. Without intensive therapy/intervention, this child is a lost cause. I am not trying to insult the child by saying this. I am just trying to tell you how incredibly serious his behaviors are. HE NEEDS HELP, NOW!!!!! Good luck. He is a danger to himself and to others at this point--your situation is critical.
do children really have empathy for others at age 3? can he possible understand that other beings have feelings like he does? my son went through a stage of being mean to the cat (like, REALLY mean, hitting, kicking, screaming at her) when he was three, and was constantly testing me as well. he just didn't get the cat, didn't understand that she has feelings like he does, and was finding that he understood other things, and wanted to see how far he could go. timeouts didn't work for him, but a firm swat on the backside would often get his attention, then i would explain what he was doing, why i wanted it to stop and what the consequences would be should he continue. he wasn't allowed to touch the cat for months, now they're the best of friends. we had to teach him empathy, he did not come hardwired for it. he also hated sleeping and would absolutely fight it, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, although he would cry, not play. turns out, he's just a very bright kid, his mind is "on" all the time, always questioning, always wondering, always thinking, and he can sometimes have trouble turning it off to rest. problem is, when a child is so young they cannot articulate what the problem is. play therapy is a wonderful idea, and extremely effective, for young children especially. this boy really needs his parents, and their unconditional love, and it seems like you are giving him that. just make sure he's well supervised when he's at home, that way you can nip any misbehaving in the bud right away, and find a good therapist. i'm kinda against medicating kids, btw, but i have heard that sometimes it can be the difference for a normal life.
This child was abused, so I think this is more serious than just "terrible toddler" behavior. He is coming from a horrible situation, and he needs help. You think some pretty bad things happened to this child in the hands of his mother. Then he had to endure a removal and foster care. He is traumatized and needs therapy for a very very long time. Dont let him slip through the cracks.
Well I bought a really good book called The Difficult Child and it is really helping me understand my son. I have always been against them but I still think he may need meds. If he doesnt grow out of this hyper/intense phase than he wont be able to succeed in life. I want him to be able to learn and have relationships with other children. At this point he wont even hold still long enough to put shoes on.
To answer some questions, Yes we are pretty good about explaining things to him. He is very smart and loves it when we teach him new things. We have also explained the breathing thing to him because he has done this to a cat before. Also he was sleeping in our room, mostly so I could just watch him. He would still wake up in the night and play. One night he twisted all the nobs off our drawers. He just recently moved back to his room because the baby is coming soon and she will be up through out the night and that wont help his sleeping.
I appreciate all your replies and advice.
DD born 5/25/05