S.T. asks from Yakima, WA on March 06, 2008
Seeking Advice on Daughter's Behavior
My 3 year old daughter has been acting out but instead of her just getting into things shes taking her anger out on our kitten. When I ask her why shes doing this to the cat she tells me its because she doesn't like him, but 5 minutes later shes hugging him saying she loves him. The last few weeks have been a challenge for the cat she has done a numerous amount of this to him. for example she has rubbed baby vicks on him twice now, just the other nice she put makeup all over him. I,'m afraid she going to end up hurting him real bad if I can't get it in control. I've even started trying to look for someone to give the kitten to.
L.J. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
Maybe she is looking for attention, maybe you are to busy for her needs.You should give the kitten away to someone else cause it sounds to me she's lacking something and she sounds confused. L
D.T. answers from Portland on March 07, 2008
I'd get her a doll that she can take her frustration out on and start reprimanding her for taking it out on the cat. Show her how she can do whatever she wants to the doll, but only can be nice to the cat.
B.C. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
What I would have done with mine is to put them in a time out. So everytime she does something to the kitten Three minutes in the corner (three minutes because of her age a minute per year) or put her in her room and stick to the punishment also when you see her being nice to the kitty make a special point to tell her and maybe she can get a little treat So she see how happy you are when she is nice to the kitten.
T.P. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
When a child is reacting instead of responding, try to re-direct her. Let her know this may be hurting the cat. You could give a word picture that she could understand/relate to. Something I have used and it works really well is "Love & Logic". I have attached a copy of an article that may be very helpful. Also, go to the Love & Logic website loveandlogic.com for some great ideas and articles that are really helpful! The article is as follows:
by Jim Fay
"Why does my child always have an attitude? She's often disruptive, disrespectful or picking on other children. She's always the one with a chip on her shoulder." This frustrated parent expresses the feelings of many–Why is my child angry and how do I deal with it?
A child who acts out may be expressing other emotions through anger. A youngster may be experiencing a loss, a divorce or a move. A child may be trying to let the world know that his/her life is not what it ought to be. Regardless of the reason, it looks the same. But how can we deal with this angry attitude without being a psychologist?
A Parent's Job is to Understand, Not to Fix Things
Listening for understanding is impossible when a child is "drunk" on anger. Never reason with an angry child. Instead say, "It sounds like you're really mad. I want to listen and understand. I will listen when you're voice is as calm as mine. Come back then." If you can't make the child leave, you leave. Be prepared to repeat your calm statement if the child is determined to yell out the anger without leaving. "Don't worry about it now. We'll talk when you're calm."You may need to say this several times. Be prepared to play "broken record" with, what did I say? Use these phrases instead of reasoning. Reasoning will only fuel the anger.
"Thanks for Sharing That"
Once the child is able to discuss the anger, listen without reasoning. Try to avoid telling the child why he/she should not be angry. Avoid telling them that things will be okay and how to make it better. Your job is to prove that you understand – "It sounds like you get mad when I tell you it's time to do your chores. Thanks for sharing that with me. I'll give it some thought. If you think of a better way for me to remind you, let me know."
Parents Can Make It Worse
Parents who do not treat their children with respect send a message that says, "You're not worthy." These parents often communicate with a lot of yelling. This encourages the child to yell and scream back while the parents retaliate by getting madder. It's a vicious cycle that breeds chronic anger in the child.
In place of anger, parents should work on listening to their children in a non–threatening, honest and open manner. Most children will talk openly only after they truly believe their parents are interested in what they have to say and recognize their feelings.
When Anger Continues
If, despite your best attempts to understand your child's anger, there is no change in behavior after three months, parents should seek professional counseling for their child. In some instances, chronic anger is best helped by a professional.
Never reason with an angry child. Use empathy and understanding instead. "It sounds like you're really mad. I want to listen and understand. And I will listen when your voice is as calm as mine. Come back then."
©1998 Jim Fay
Permission granted for photocopy reproduction.
Please do not alter or modify contents.
For more information, call the Love and Logic Institute, Inc. at (800) 338-4065.
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T.B. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
How do you respond when she does this?
It seems like a lot of parents are afraid to discipline these days - but, in instances where it's a threat to the safety and well being of another (be it a person or animal), I truly believe a child needs to be presented with a CLEAR UNDERSTANDING of the impact and the rules re: such behavior.
Years ago, our cat was on the ledge of the upstairs balcony. The girls were too small to do more than reach up and pet him and, as I was on the ground floor, on the phone, I suddenly saw a white ball of fluff flying down, landing on our couch, below! Shocking, indeed!
Now, the cat was fine (albeit he looked pretty puffed up!) - I understood it was an accident - but I took that opportunity to sit them down in the most serious, serious manner (a mix of deep concern, a stern tone and disappointment, as well) - I asked them to imagine they were an animal that cannot talk - has no words to tell you just how AFRAID or HURT he is by something YOU did to him - how would you like to be in a world where you don't have a voice and someone did something that scared you or hurt you, really badly? Even if it's an accident, the cat's feelings are the same - he doesn't know that!
It wasn't the shortest lecture they ever got. I really made the effort to get the girls to connect, on an emotional level, to the feelings the animal couldn't describe and the fact that their actions were important for them to think about in life - how they impact others. I asked them, if they were a cat, which they would prefer, being around kids that gave them lovies or kids that scared or hurt them? What kind of people did they want to be - do they like knowing they scared him this way? Does that feel good inside? OR would they rather know they made him feel so much love he wanted to follow them around and cuddle in their laps?
I also put them in a big time out (to think about our discussion) and let them know how disappointed I was. I let them know that I totally knew it was an accident but that this is still a defenseless animal. I hated to see them cry (it made me want to cry!) - but, I was okay with the fact that what I had to say to them was upsetting to them - to let them cry and apologize. It meant they felt empathy and real feeling. I also made a real point to give them love afterwards, as well. They still needed to know that, while I don't approve of what happened (intended or not), I know, in their hearts, they are kind, kind little people who love the cat - little people who now knew better, I could see it!
All I can say is they clearly understood what wasn't going to be tolerated in our home and that they had a choice about their behaviors (and their behaviors matter, even if it's a cat). They also knew they had a loving mom, in spite of the disappointment. To this day, they are all animal lovers. I think it's good for kids to realize that some things are worth this kind of depth of concern - that it's truly serious and that their behavior will NOT be tolerated. And, of course, that there is room to screw up sometimes in life and still be perfectly great people. We all have to learn. And some of the best, BEST people screw up (no matter how big we grow!). That's just the way it is, being human and all.
Please don't get rid of your kitten right away. Discipline your daughter first and foremost. Because, she will have to learn to get along with animals and others and, the sooner she learns to self-correct, the better. When I discipline, I often remind our girls that, if I didn't care about them at all, I'd say - "go ahead, be nasty, be hurtful, be rude, be mean - if others don't want to be around you and you have no friends, who cares!" But, the fact is, I LOVE them and correcting their behavior is going to help them get along - so that others recognize their inner beauty and kindness and will want to be near them and be friends with them. So, even if it feels like I'm being mean sometimes...they understand that it's for their own good.
I wish you the very best with your daughter. This could be the start of a life-long love of animals - and that would only be because you cared enough to send this note out into cyberspace to all of us. You're a great and loving mom!
2 moms found this helpful
S.P. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
My children tend to torture the cat as well. The thing about it is they don't understand or have the capacity to feel empathy. Its up to the parent to instill in them compassion and caring for others(including animals) Its just disturbing as a parent to watch our child behave like this. We hear that serial killers start by killing animals. We know that this is unacceptable behavior but ask your self why you know this. Its because when you were young, someone(parents or guardian) got on you every time you were mean to a pet for years more than likely. There is nothing wrong with your daughter, you just need to correct her behavior and let her know it never ok to hurt!
p.s. My son once locked our cat in a small refrigerator....not ok!
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M.W. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
First, I'd make sure she has NO ACCESS to things like makeup and Vicks Baby Rub! Not only are they potentially harmful to the kitten, but also to your daughter if she puts any of it in the wrong place (eyes, nose, etc.).
Second, she is definitely old enough to receive consequences for her actions. She's probably dealing with this situation as something to learn about her power in situations. Unfortunately, power over a kitten is something that's probably pretty challenging for a 3 year old to understand. She really needs your guidance and modeling to learn the proper way to treat this kitten.
Perhaps you could try playing with the kitten in front of her and demonstrate how gentle and nice one needs to be around animals. Then, remove the kitten from her proximity until she can demonstrate the good behavior herself.
If she continues to be dangerous for the animal to be around, it would probably be wise to give it away. It could set a bad precedent for future behavior around animals that could be dangerous. For example, a friend's dog could bite her, or another cat could scratch her if she isn't able to "play nice". You can always try again when she's a little older.
1 mom found this helpful
M.S. answers from Portland on March 06, 2008
First, put all the dangerous stuff like the Vicks out of her reach. You don't want her getting that in her own or kitty's eyes. Second, give kitty a place to hide and maybe even confine him to a place your daughter can't go. Forbid her any contact with kitty until you can trust her. Explain to her that if she doesn't be nice, kitty may bite or scratch her. She is testing her limits and testing kitty's limits. She's not really being naughty, just exploring. If she is painting kitty with Vicks, maybe you can say "if you want to paint, then lets get out the finger paints and make a picture instead." You don't want to have to tell her "NO" 50 times a day and punish her every hour, but you can't let her get away with it.
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L.O. answers from Seattle on March 07, 2008
Our almost 3 year old daughter thinks it's very funny to chase the kitty until he runs downstairs. Our daughter loves to be chased, so I am sure she thinks the cats loves it, too! So, to help her understand that it is wrong, we put her in time out in her room each time she chases the cat. Then, we go in and explain to her that Murphy is very small and gets really scared when he sees a big girl like her running after him. She then has to come out and say sorry to Murphy. We also give her a large amount of praise when she walks up to the kitty slowly and pets him gently. This happens much more frequently now, so I am confident that she is learning appropriate behavior. It's got to be so confusing for kids because when we go to my sister's house, our daughter loves to chase her dog. Her dog likes this and doesn't get scared, so it seems to be okay. What a mixed message she receives!
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J.H. answers from Spokane on March 07, 2008
Hi S.! When I raised my four kids, I used to read to them
each night before bedtime from a series of books called "Help Me Be Good". They covered a bunch of topics like Being Kind, etc,
and they were really great and my kids loved them. I made a big deal out of story time, and then during the day I referred back to what we had read. It just may help your little girl.
Let me know how she progresses. You're doing a good job...just don't give up. I'd keep the kitten and work real hard at showing her how to take care of the kitten and correcting her behavior incident by incident. Let's face it...training kids is a serious, full-time job, but only YOU as her mom know how to do it best.
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J.H. answers from Portland on March 06, 2008
3 is old enough to know better than to torture a cat, Is she aggressive towards other children she doesn't like? You need to make torturing the cat an unpleasant thing for her. I would suggest Train up a Child by Michael Pearl or Growing Godly Tomatoes which is an excellent source on the web for child training. If you get rid of the cat you only tempotarily solve the problem and she won't learn to not hurt the cat, it will just be out of her reach. It is like when a parent removes a "no no" object froom out of the reach of a child. The child learns nothing and has the option to disobey removed. Children need to learn to not disobey then they can function in life without everything being put up or given away. That's my 2 cents :)
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