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Last week I watched my daughter who was outside with the dog step on her paws. I kept watching ( thinking it an accident). It happened again. I was shocked and called her inside(she is two months shy of 4) and we had a long talk about pain, kindness and how our family doesn't hurt others. She said he did it to get the dog to stand up so she old brush her. Another explanation on how we don't use pain to manipulate others. Thought I got through to her and today it happened again. Same story. She wanted to brush the dog, I watched out the window and saw her stepping on her paws o get her to stand. I called her inside asked her if she knew why she had to come in, she said," I stepped on her foot.". I sent her to her room......I didn't know what to do!
How cruel and horrible and after we'd had this talk before! I am mortified and embarrassed. We do not spank and talk about kindness and nonviolence daily!!! I am worried now that she doesn't understand pain, although all common sense says it isn't possible. How do I handle this situation? I re explained about pain and treating others kindly and some alternatives to get the dog to move ----but I need her to understand! What if the dog bites her? She is an old and very gentle dog, but you never know.
I took her favorite toy away and told her it belonged to the of now and she had to earn it back through kindness and regain the dogs trust. I feel really silly now and that I handled it wrong, but I was really upset and wasn't thinking straight. What should I do?
I would try not to give your child a "good" or "bad" person stigma over this issue.
Often, when my children do something repeatedly, it is not because they are defiant, or mean, or violent little monsters. It's because what they were doing works, and they are small children who are still (quite naturally!) introverted. I have to give them an option of what TO do in the same scenerio.
Your dd stepped on the dogs paws NOT because she's violent, but because she wanted the dog to get up. And the dog does, every time. So, you need to try to take the blame out of the equation, and teach her what TO do instead. IMO, the time for upping the ante, so to speak, is when you have given several reasonable alternatives, and she CONTINUES to hurt the dog. I would, of course, be certain that the alternatives are reasonable, and that you've come through for her everytime she's asked for help, before assuming she has some flawed character trait.
I would say something like, "Oh, it hurts the dog to get stepped on. Do YOU like to get stepped on. Me neither. So, you need the dog to get up. Dog does not want to get up. Hmmm. What can we do? Because...we can't step on her. That would HURT. Maybe you could ask Mama for help? Maybe you could get the dog a treat. Wanna see a cool trick? Watch THIS." (And I would get a treat and show her that the dog could be gotten up with it, etc.)
"If you keep doing the same things you've always done, you'll keep getting the same results you've always gotten."
I don't think you did the "wrong" thing (and please, no peeking over to my house in times of stress!) but I might have first banned my daughter from brushing the dog until she could treat the dog better. (Did she have the brush? Or just "want to brush the dog?") Whether or not she had the brush, I would still tell her she doesn't get to do it . OK, that's my first response, the shocked mama response. Probably not the best response (see? I'm not so great at this out of the starting gate!)
BUT she can brush the dog with you. Show her how you brush the dog. How you pet the dog, play with the dog, feed the dog. Talk all cutsie to the widdle puppykins an' does da puppykins wanna bwush? Giggle when the dog gets happy. She's found a new trick, however, and it might not have anything to do with the brush at all, just a cool trick. Does it really hurt the dog? (Not that I'd let her assume it didn't, because he obviously is stressed when she does it.) If not, then have a little patience and keep chipping away at this behavior. Eventually, between your talks and some really positive attention to the dog and her eventual boredom with this trick she has learned, she will quit.
I know at my house the tail-pulling phase went on far too long. Shocked reactions, fun play with the cats, and grounding the girls from playing with the cats for the afternoon if they mistreated them, seemed to finally get through to them.
"She is a mermaid, but approach her with caution. Her mind swims at a depth most would drown in."
I think you handled it just fine for the most part. I wouldn't have taken a toy away but I found that when my dd went through a cat hurting phase the only thing that got through to her was sending her away from the room the cat was in until she was ready to use her gentle touch. Some people recommend sending the animal away from the room, but I tried that first and my dd seemed to think the cat had done something wrong because it was the cat getting the consequence.
I do think that you should really limit how much time your dd has alone with the dog though until she is through this phase so you can redirect her quickly if she starts getting rough. Kids that young often hurt younger siblings, animals, and friends because they still need the extra guidance as they work out how to get what they want (or accept a compromise).