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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
...it can seem so futile.

15 mo ds is a very physical kid, even in comparison to other kids the exact same age. He doesn't just pound a toy, he pounds it so hard that even he is flinching. His every emotion comes out in the very cells of his body, from head to toe. The things he most enjoys doing are things that stimulate his kinesthetic system. (For those of you familiar with it, he is mostly sensory seeking in the sensory integration spectrum, by the way, and receives occupational therapy).

Anyway, we have two dogs and two cats. They are not his playthings of course, but ds adores them. But he also shows his affection by trying to pound on/hit them, by petting them very fast in both directions, by trying to yank of them (which usually results in him pulling out a chunk of fur as I take his hand away). They are such patient animals, but I am not okay with any of it, of course.

I do supervise him closely when he's around the animals, but on occassion he gets to them more quickly than I get to him or whatever.

When they are together and he wants to touch them, I try to model seeing if they want to be touched first. I show him how to give gentle touches. I show him as I do it. I use his hands to help him do it. I sign "gentle." I say "gentle." It always ends with me having to go with him to somewhere he can't get to the pets because he will try to be rough with them even as I help him not to. And he's too quick for me. I know developmentally, he just can't get it right now, and I am trying to be patient with it, but he stays so tense the entire time that it is discouraging. I get scared he'll be rough with them for years. I get scared he'll be rough with other people or other children too. Why is my kid the roughest of his peers that I know? It's frustrating.

Ugh. Anyone else in similar shoes?
 

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I'm not in your shoes, but someone around here said they taught their kids to do a "one finger touch." It may take a lot of repeated teaching and practice with your son, but I've taught my daughter to do both "touch nice" and "one finger" touches-- because I can see that learning to do the one finger touch can be valuable for years to come. It's a way to explore some normally "forbidden" and tempting things (like glass vases) and satisfy a child's curiosity, yet not cause breakage or harm.

Otherwise, good luck and just keep trying. It's worth the effort in the long run!

Faith
 

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That doesn't sound terribly abnormal to me. DD is also very physically-oriented and we have a hard time with her and our 4 cats. She wants to do the exact things you describe - down to a tee!

We've also used the "one finger" approach to let her touch things that are irresistable but fragile (or alive). It works about 80% of the time.

Now at 18 months, she's also started to hit ME when frustrated or angry. When she does this I just immediately put her down. We try to be very consistent - if she's not gentle with something or someone, then that something or someone is taken away from her. We don't shout or make a big deal out of it, just say, for instance, "kitty likes *GENTLE* pets" and then take her away from the poor
: cat.

I'm not sure I understand what "sensory seeking" is - what requires occupational therapy?
 

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I hear you, mama. We are having a similar challenge with 14.5 month old dd. I would not normally describe her as being quite as intense as it sounds like your ds is--she is normally funny and easygoing--but there is something about the whole "gentle!" subject that seems to bring out the wild woman in her!

I think there are probably a couple of things going on. She is definitely somewhat confused/intrigued by the whole idea of the gentle touch. When you think about it, it's confusing--there is a very wide range of ways that you can touch someone or something, it's not black-and-white like most toddler rules ("Don't eat rocks!") are. So, I think she is kind of experimenting and gathering data by hitting with different amounts of force and seeing which ones get a good reaction out of me.

Just in the last 2 or 3 days we have been seeing some better results, where she seems to be at least sometimes demonstrating some good examples of gentle petting (I praise her like crazy when she does this, which seems to make her happy but also gets her pretty wound up) though invariably she will follow up with some hitting. I always take her hand and physically show her gentle petting, which I think has helped some, though I think the excitement of hitting the cat is simply irresistible, so I don't expect we'll be able to extinguish the hitting entirely until she's older and has more self control.

Our cats are pretty tolerant / able to run away and hide so I am not too worried about the reaction from them, but I guess if I was I would work on keeping them separated from her as much as possible. One thing I've done to try to enhance the relationship between dd and the cats is to teach dd to give them cat treats. She is now pretty much the only one who feeds them treats now (and they are very food-oriented cats) and I think this has helped make them more willing to put up with her. And, of course, she loves it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you all for the ideas. I'll try them out. I also think I am going to re-read _Becoming the Parent You Want To Be_ because I remember they talk about this kind of thing.

ds does give the dogs their dog treats, which is actually nice because it is the one thing he does with them that doesn't involve direct touch.

I don't think he's even the slightest bit curious what gentle touch means. I can't even tell if he notices me showing it to him, even when I am helping him do it with his own hands! It seems like he is so focused on what it is he *wants* to do that I am like the teacher in the Peanuts cartoon, "Bwah bwah bwah bwah." KWIM?

Quote:

Originally Posted by darwinphish
Now at 18 months, she's also started to hit ME when frustrated or angry.
ds does this too, when he's frustrated, angry, or just excited (that's when he generally does it with the pets...not out of anger or frustration). He also has started biting me when he doesn't want to hold my hand but has to (such as in crossing the street) or when he's frustrated.
 

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Wow, Sierra, it seems that our DSs are right on the same track! This has totally been a big issue for us recently. We don't have any pets, but we have plants and, of course, our own bodies!

Before, DS seemed to enjoy touching plants, babies, dolls gently while saying "ta-ta" (his word for gentle). But, in the last couple weeks, he's started hitting plants and people or, worse, chucking big wooden toys into them! Usually, he'll say, "No!" very sternly as he's doing this--he likes to beat us to the punch. If we say his name when he's getting ready to hit, he looks at us very seriously and signs



My solution has mostly been to remove the thing that DS is pummelling or the thing he is pummelling with if he continues to do damage. And I always give another demonstration of gentle touch for DS in these moments. DH thinks I'm crazy for doing this, but my training as a Montessori teacher has me convinced that the best way to teach a child proper behavior is to model it over and over and over and over again.

If he's hitting me, I set him down and tell him, "I love you very much, but I don't like to be hit." Sometimes, he looks at my eyes like he's really hearing me and, sometimes, he's already off looking for something else to hit.

I guess toddlerhood has truly begun, huh?
 

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same here w/my ds...my cat is getting a LOT of excersize these days running away from him


I just wait until she's calm enough to sit still for me to teach him and then i pet her for a few minutes with him standing there watching and explain to him that Missy likes gentle touches and nice petting..and she's VERY affectionate so he can see her arching into my hands and then after a bit i take his hand and pet her with his hand. it usually works for a minute or so and then he yanks his hand away and starts hitting her. I've completely cut out *patting* the pets b/cuz ds doesn't seem to understand the difference between patting and hitting.

strangely enough he has no problems being gentle with the dog. but then the dog likes a bit of roughness. his idea of *patting* for example doesn't phase the dog. I still model and teach gentle with Bear just so he knows he has to be gentle to all animals not just our scaredy cat lol. its still a work in progress started 4 months ago. one day he'll get it!
 

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I sympathize. We don't have pets, but DS is a sensory seeker too. When he was younger, I think it helped a bit to model gentle touch right AFTER he had gotten a whole lot of sensory input. So, maybe go to the park and run around and jump up and down then go home and try to pet gently?

Also, we have a book called, "Be gentle" that has a kitten who gets scared and runs away. I think reading this helped a bit too.

Good luck!

Catherine
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you so much for sharing your similar stories and your tips. I will continue to integrate your ideas and report back when I return to being "online" in September
.
 
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