What To Do When Your Child Won't Stop Hitting the Cat (or other family pet)!

Pleeeeeease STOP hurting the cat!
Don't squeeze the dog!

Can you hear my desperation? Yes! I've been there - the HITTING stage.

Her friends, me, the dog - my daughter has hit, squeezed and scratched them all.
And, I have had to put on my detective goggles to determine the cause and the best solution for her - developmentally typical - but uncivilized behavior.

Sometimes it was developmental - she was just too young to "remember" the rule or stop her impulses.

Sometimes it was stress - she was holding a backlog of emotions and fears about the changes that were happening.

Sometimes it was sensory - she needed to release the tension in her body.

And, sometimes it was relational - she needed me to take an honest look at my own behavior and then choose to emotionally reconnect with her.

Children and animal cruelty is a topic which can strike fear into the heart of any parent.

But, try not to be too alarmed - it is a very typical behavior for young children to display when curious, playful, angry or frustrated and it is usually a passing phase - as long as it is met with consistency and kindness.

Children need to be able to rely on your responses and experience them as safe - if you want to have any influence.

Using fear or punitive force may very well have the opposite effect of what you are hoping for because it intensifies the emotions you are trying to quell.  

I know how easy it is to get upset with a child who won't stop sitting on the cat or grabbing the dog's tail.

Why do you have to say it five times? 

If you can remember your long-term goals for your child and the short-term nature of this phase - your ability to self-regulate your reactions will be enhanced, and trust me, it will be your greatest asset.

In this TEACHable Moments video, I'm got four tips for keeping the kids - AND pets - safe. 

Check it out and see what "pattern interrupt" our family used -
to change our emotional state and shift into connection.

If you can...
  1. Know what you need.
  2. Take preventative measures.
  3. Be interested in your child's experience
  4. Find the "growth opportunity."
- you will find yourself not only surviving but THRIVING during this naturally aggressive stage of childhood! 

So tell me, does your child have pet-aggression issues?  What have you done to help him calm the emotional storm?

Leave me a comment below and share your story because you never know - your idea might just be the spark of change someone else was looking for.  

Thanks so much for watching and have a great week!


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