Child Is Aggressive......

Updated on August 14, 2010
C.R. asks from Copperas Cove, TX
8 answers

Hi mamas. My son will be 3 in Oct. He is aggressive and is mean towards our animals. I don't know why this is. He is involved with feeding them, bathing them and walking them. The only thing I can think of is he may be jealous of them or that maybe he takes "loving" them to aggressively. We pat them on the head as we're walking by them but not hard and he does too but too hard! And sometimes he yells at them. We don't yell at the animals we squirt them with water from a water bottle if they need it. We dont hit the animals at all we pat them. He will try to sit on them, hug too hard and kick at them. I have put him in timeout and explained to him we dont do that. I have taken his hand and showed him how to pat the animals i just dont know what else to do. Its been going on for awhile now and i dont understand it.

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thanks for the replies they were very helpful!! He has started to calm down a bit.

Featured Answers



answers from Santa Barbara on

This is not normal, what are you other moms thinking??? He is mean, aggressive and kicking the animals!! At this age, the boy should know how to be kind to animals.

1 mom found this helpful

More Answers



answers from San Diego on

As a preschool teacher I have seen all kinds of aggression, some "normal" some not. While some people may worry that you have a budding psychopath on your hands I am not so quick to assume such a thing, even though I have a degree in behavioral science. Children hit, kick and bite each other at this age and it isn't necessarily an indication of some kind of permanent behavioral problem. Yes, it is worrisome but you must keep reinforcing the "gentle" touches, IMMEDIATELY upon seeing the aggression. Don't let him alone with them. Children at age 2 and 3 DO have a difficult time with impulse control. You most definitely should bring it up to your pediatrician and see what she/he thinks about it as they will look at the WHOLE child and his behavior, not just with the animals.
I also wouldn't have him "pat" the animals as it looks A LOT like hitting to a very young child. Have him gently stroke the animal instead.Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I have to respectfully disagree with Martha. If you were referring to an older child then yes, you should be concerned about this as a starting point for other aggressive behaviors but your son is not even 3 yet. He is still learning how the world works and probably doesn't realize his own strength. Young children don't always understand how their behavior affects others and he may not be making the connection that when he pats the animal too hard that it can hurt and scare them. I think you should continue to lead by example and continue to address the problem when he is too rough or aggressive with the pets.

My younger son is 3 and while he LOVES both our dog and cat, he is sometimes too rough with his affections toward them. He does the rough pats, yells at them, and occasionally pulls their ears or tail. When he does these things, I immediately tell him to stop and I remind him that it hurts if somebody hits you or pulls on you. I then explain and show him the nice way to pet the animal and have him do it too. Then I praise him for doing it nicely. I think it also helped a little that I bought him a stuffed dog and made it a point to remind him to be kind to his doggie so he doesn't hurt her. He carries it everywhere now and although he understands that it is just a toy, he pretends to feed it and he pets it gently. I have seen a major improvement in his actions toward our pets since he has started taking care of his very own doggie. Maybe your son could benefit from having his own 'pet' too. :) I hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Luis Obispo on

I disagree 100% with Martha - this is normal behavior for a little kid. Others have posted that if you even *once* raise your voice to your dogs/cats (which on rare occasions we have to our 2 dogs), your L.O. mimics that - they are trying to be "grown ups". I can attest to that in our household!!

Our almost 3 y.o. is also more aggressive with our dogs than I'd like him to be BUT he has improved a lot in the last few months - he loves playing with them but I swear sometimes he thinks they are stuffed animals he can roughhouse with! So frustrating sometimes - our 12 y.o. golden was my first "kid", and I'm very attached to him, plus he's so docile, he'll let Jr. do anything to him instead of walking away.

My husband and I are both around when Jr's around the dogs, and we're both quick to let him know he's being too rough, and if he doesn't stop, we'll stop whatever activity is going on if it happens again (it seems that this behavior is the worst when everyone is out in the backyard, playing soccer/tag/whatever and everyone (dogs included) is excited, etc.): then we follow through despite the screams and tears. He's getting it, slowly but surely.

I don't think spanking is the answer, but I'm also not fan. Works for some families.

My final input is patience and keep doing what you're doing. Ultimately your son will model your husband's and your behavior (not sure if that is grammatically correct, oops). If you do yell at your pets for something, and your son is there, explain to him why you did it and let him know if he sees something like that, to come and get you so *you* discipline the animals, not him. He'll get it in time.

Good luck!!! Hang in there!!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Williamsport on

This is totally normal. If you discipline him firmly the moment he begins to treat an animal wrongly in any way, yelling, kicking, whatever,he will quickly stop. He does understand at 3. Discipline. Peaceful example does not work at this age, as you have seen. One calm warning, a firm swift consequence if he continues. Be consistent. My kids would never treat an animal or child or adult aggressively, and that is because from age 18 months or so, they were no allowed to, not because we tried to explain to them how to be nice until we were ready to check into loony bins. We've never had time for time outs having seen them not work in so many kids. Immediate, quick and firm is what you need. Once you teach him, it will become normal to him. Don't give up!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

I don't mean to alarm you, but I would suggest that you speak to your pediatrican about a psychiatric referal. Agression toward animals is a warning sign that should be taken seriously. While not always, this behavior is highly correlated with future agression towards humans. If you have an issue, early intervention and awareness may be very helpful.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

....maybe, since an animal is lower on the totem pole than he... he may simply be 'venting' or taking out his pent up frustrations, on them.
For a kid, it could be as simple as that.
An animal, is less threatening than an adult/Parent... and they don't yell back or punish... for example.

How is he overall? Can he express himself? IS he 'allowed' to express his feelings even if feeling grumpy or happy? Can he talk it out when he feels junk? Is he allowed to?
Do people understand him if he is frustrated? Or is he just scolded?

Or, simply ask him, why he does that? Does he have a reason?

I am sure, he knows he is being 'mean' to them.

all the best,

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions