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!

Yes! I've been there - the HITTING stage.

Her friends, me, the dog - my daughter has hit, squeezed, and scratched them all.

I put on my detective goggles more than a few times when she was young to determine the cause and the best solution for this - 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 overwhelming 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 reconnect with her

Seeing children being cruel to animals can set off worried panic, but try not to be too alarmed. It's very typical for young children to display impulsive behavior when curious, playful, angry or frustrated.

The good news? It's 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 a sense of safety to willingly receive our influence.

Using fear or punitive force will likely have the opposite effect of what you are hoping for because it intensifies the emotions you are trying to calm.  

I know how easy it is to become frustrated 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 grow, and it will be your greatest asset.

In this TEACHable Moments video, I've 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 trying 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 remember, conscious - not perfect!

Talk soon,


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About Lori

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