Mothering Forum banner
1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
686 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a question. My 3-year old son has taken to kicking my cat... and this is very upsetting to me. We've always shown him to be kind and gentle with animals, and he always has been until now. I'm not sure why it's changed. I also have a 4 month old. Could it be a way of trying to get attention?

Anyway, last night, my son walked over to the cat and kicked him (not too hard, but hard enough that the cat got up and ran away). I told my son "no" we don't kick the cat because (fill in the usual reasons why one wouldn't kick a cat). Later, he did it again, and laughed. Needless to say, I got angry.

Later, when I tried to show my son how *I* pet the cat and am kind to him, and how the cat likes it, etc., my son just said "sometimes you [meaning himself] pet him, sometimes you kick him..."
I really do not know how to handle this situation. It makes zero sense to me to use violence or anger to prevent a child from behaving violently. But, at the same time, I cannot let him hurt my cat (my cat is 16 years old, and he's not as strong as he once was).

Does anyone know how I can make "don't kick the cat" stick without using anger, or God forbid, spanking?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,486 Posts
Can you have him hold your hand while you go about doing your work for the day, and let him know that he has a choice - he can either remember not to kick the cat and let go of your hand; or if he cannot remember to have a safe body, he can keep holding your hand so that you know where he is? If you tell him you are very, very worried and that these are the only choices you can think of where everyone is safe? (if he can think of another, then that's great too) If he's looking for attention, it's one way to give it in a nonangry way; and it does prevent him from hurting the cat physically. This is what was done at a school I worked at when children were hitting each other and sort of in "the zone" for more aggression.

Good luck! What he said struck me as uh...very unusually deft in a sort of South Park-ish way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,945 Posts
For my nephew we had a mantra which we repeated many, many, many times a day. "Gentle touch with people, pets, and plants." When he was not being gentle, I would get down to his level, take his hands in mine, and say, "I do not hit you, you do not hit me" or "The dog does not hit you, you do not hit the dog" in a firm medium voice tone while looking him right in the eye with a very serious look on my face. Then I would say "Gentle touch with people, pets, and plants, what is the rule?" He would repeat it. Was it perfect? No. But I was consistent with that routine. Our biggest problem was the dog. After hitting incident #3 he then had time away from the dog. I would do the same routine as before but at the end I would add, "Because you are not being gentle with the dog the dog does not want to play with you." Then I would make sure the dog stayed in a different room or outside for awhile. Some may disagree with this but I think since we are not using violence to teach that violence isn't right (hitting=spanking) that when words aren't enough there has to be some other "consequence" for it. For me the seperation was logical because in life if you hit, people don't want to be around you.

I also want to say that hitting the cat gets your attention quickly. I would add more positive attention through out the day and see what happens. Also, I believe it is pretty developmentally appropriate for a 3 y.o. to push boundaries in search of his/her personal power. Hitting/kicking is a way to do this. Does mama really mean that I shouldn't kick? Or is this fun thing something I can do and gets me attention to boot?


Good luck! Hugs for the kitty!

Jenne
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
183 Posts
We went through this with our oldest (of course, we go through everything with our oldest the younger one is just laid back) and we had 4 cats. We tried countless conversations/explainations and nothing we said ever got through to him. Then one day I just backed off, he was poking and pulling at the cat and I shook my head no and said "You probably don't want to do that" and he kept at it and the cat pulled away from him a bit and sort of growled a bit (Ghost would never hiss at him because he did once when he was a baby and he wasn't sure he really wanted J around and he cried and Ghost freaked out and licked at him and forever became his protector) in this sort of 'please don't mess with me, I don't want to hurt you sort of way' and Jason got that the cat didn't like that and stopped. Another time J told the cats to follow him and the two youngest did (who knew they'd listen) but Ghost wanted to take a nap so he laid there. J went back and grabbed one of his front paws and tried to drag him (I was too horrified to know what to say but hubby told him not to do it, blah, blah) as usual he ignored us, but Ghost pulled his paw free and swatted at his hand (claws in not out) and J immediately went 'Sorry' and walked off to play with the other two. So I guess my point is the natural consequences of provoking a cat got through to our son better than words, but with an older cat she's just going to avoid him. (We had one older cat but he was a 27 lb Maine **** with a huge head and huge feet--Jase called him doggen, cross btwn dog/kitten, because he refused to believe General was a cat I guess because of his size--and J just never crossed the line with him, so it wasn't a problem.) So that won't really work for you.

But I really think Jenne's seperation idea is a good one because it is a logical consequence that you'd drive people/pets away by mistreating them. Your cat already removes herself so maybe stating what's happening so it sinks in would help, like "Oh no, the cat doesn't want to play now because it hurts her when you kick. I'm going to go make sure she's ok." This may translate into something he gets if he ever goes to another room to cry/sulk (mine did a lot that's why I thought of it) or if you usually check him for wounds when he falls/hurts himself--plus if he sees that hurting the cat gets the cat your attention (at least temporarily) instead of him it takes away that reward if it's the motivator. But whatever you say when the cat leaves should be something he can compare to his own self so he sees that her reaction makes sense (sort of the idea of you shouldn't kick, because you wouldn't like being kicked but less blunt so he actually makes that connection for himself).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,450 Posts
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jenne
"I do not hit you, you do not hit me" or "The dog does not hit you, you do not hit the dog"
so one day someone is going to hit him. another child maybe. by accident or on purpose. so that's licence to hit back?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,945 Posts
One day? I wish. I wish it wasn't naive to believe that people don't hurt children in horrible ways just because they can. So, no, not one day, most days.

Nephew was living with us because his home was physically and verbally abusive. He already new that he was small and weak and that he was going to get hit. So it was my job to let him know that he didn't need to use violence in our house because there was not going to be violence in our house. For his situation we needed to teach him: 1) that we loved him and wouldn't hurt him so he could relax and not hurt us 2) ways to defend himself appropriately in the future as this wasn't a going to be a long term placement. I did not think it was in HIS best interest to be told to never hit/kick/bite/scratch/etc because it just wasn't going to be a realistically safe strategy given his homelife. We practiced using words to defend himself mostly but I never said that he couldn't hit someone who hit him. It was/is a VERY VERY VERY sad situation. Hopefully his time living with us in peace will translate into a meaningful experience in some way and if not at least he was safe for awhile. The last words my DH said to my nephew were something like: Call us if you need us and no one has the right to hurt you.



Jenne
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top