My daughter just hurt our dog. She stepped on her paw. She's been told before not to and I've always prided myself on raising such a kind and loving child. My heart is breaking to see her do something so cruel. Advice?
Sympathize with the dog. Pet and love him. Point out how hurt he is and tell your daughter to be gentle. Ask her how she would feel if someone stepped on her foot.
Drop your disappointment/expectation of how you want her to act ... this is about her and the dog and a learning experience. Reacting too strongly will guarantee repeat events. She could also be hurting the dog to get attention from you so make sure you work in extra time together.
It does sound like 4 yo boundary testing/attention getting behavior. I agree with lovepickles. Take care of the dog and then explain to your daughter that it hurts and is not ok. Some praise for a dog who does not react to that is definitely in order too. These minor childhood transgressions do not mean she will not be kind and loving.
Similar age son here, generally a dear sweetie, but lately... vicious moments.
I do that thing that lovepickles says about tending the dog, and I have a stock phrase "We NEVER hurt other beings, and your dog feels sad right now, let's try to make her feel safe and loved. She loves the way you usually pet her, can you do that right now to help her feel better? Oh look, she's wagging her tail, she really likes that, let's do that some more!"
etc, etc, and when my son is back to feeling proud about his caretaking, I remind him about never hurting others on purpose, and how our pets are our family members too, and he has a job to teach them about gentleness. I try to end with positive reinforcement of the kind behavior.
Mom of one child (2008), wife of one husband, tender of dogs, cats and chickens. Household interests: ocean life (kid), bitcoins (husband), simplifying (me).