I need some advice with hitting/being rough

Jessica - posted on 09/10/2010 ( 8 moms have responded )

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Hey all, so it seems like we're finally encountering a "problem" with my son- he will be 15 months next Wednesday. It seems to have started with a kitten we recently rescued (its mom was a stray in our neighborhood and got hit by a car). We have two other cats and Kieran has always been really good with them. We've taught him from the get-go to pet nicely, be gentle etc and it really seems to have worked- he'd pet them, give them hugs etc. Occasionally he'll get overly excited and wave his arms and smack them, but we intervene and they run away and that's that. He's always been very gentle-natured in general.

Well for some reason, he has been really rough with this kitten. Really just the past few days. He grabs its tail or ears and yanks his arm back and forth... which of course the kitten does not like :( He grabs really hard too. He also smacks the kitten and our other cats as well. Well NOTHING is working to get him to stop. When I intervene he thinks its HILARIOUS. No matter what- I try to be calm and firm, or even if I yell at him (I hate to do it, but I get desperate and nothing grabs his attention) he just laughs like its a game!

I don't know how to get him to understand that its very serious and to stop. I unlatch his hand from the cat and tell him NO, we do not hurt the kitty. And try to show him how to pet nicely, though he's usually squirming away and laughing by that point. Is it a kind of phase that I just keep doing what I'm doing until he works his way out of it? The reason I say that is because he seems to be testing limits a LOT with other things too the past couple days- very persistent in getting into everything he knows he's not supposed to, no matter how much we say no and redirect. Before, he was very easy going and redirected easily. Do I just keep him away from the kitten altogether for a while? Any advice would be appreciated! I'm just so worried because it seems like my sweet-tempered little boy is turning into a meanie lol. And I'm not sure why and am afraid of doing the wrong thing and making it worse.

Also makes me a lot more worried about his little brother coming into the world in January :(

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Jenny - posted on 09/11/2010

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at that age, you just keep having to be consisten and he will eventually get the point.

but if you have the engergy you can put all your effort into correcting this behaviour. Every time he hits the kitten, pick him up take him away into another room and say "No hitting". Make him sit there for a minutea and then ask him to say sorry (its okay if he cant and doesnt say anything) then give him a hug (if he got upset about it) and move on.
Do this everytime. Keep the kitten around for a day so that he has opportunity to experience many time outs in one day so that he can internalise the lesson quicker.


But thats upto you if you feel like that behaviour warrants that amount of attention, or if you dont mind taking a slower approach. He will get the point either way, just depends how quick he'll get it.

Meghan - posted on 09/11/2010

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"Kitty mad" HA! JuLeah that is so funny. I love when they start to grasp emotions. If I get upset with J, his attempts to ignore the issue is say "Mommy happy now!" He get's me with it EVERY time!

JuLeah - posted on 09/11/2010

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When my daughter was about this age she wanted to pet a cat that had met toddlers before and was in the process of running away. My daughter grabbed her tail and pulled her in.
The cat turned, hissed, screached (loud) and slapped my baby in the face. She startled her more then hurt her. She had the power to do a lot of damage, but, I think, understood my daughter was just a kitten and didn't know better.
My daughter let go fast and said, "Kitty mad"
Sometimes stepping back and letting things happen is okay .... had I been able to get there in time, I would have attempted to stop this from happening, but the cat handled it just fine.

Riana - posted on 09/11/2010

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LOL perfect example of natural consequences Megan!

Jessica, you are doing perfectly now you simply need to show him that you have more presistance than him. I think with Kobus I must have used the word "gently" about 1000 times LOL but it does pay off eventually.

Meghan - posted on 09/10/2010

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J used to do this with our cat. I tried the gentle hands thing and showing him how to treat her nicely. Unfortunate for him, the only thing that did teach him was when my back was turned and the cat scratched him...ooops

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It's part of a phase. He's getting better control of his fine motor skills. The kitten is smaller there for far more intriguing and it reacts when he does stuff to it. And because toddlers still view the world as revolving around them they don't get that what they are doing hurts others and is not acceptable. Just keep being consistent. If he hits the cat remove him entirely away from the cat at this point. He knows how to treat the cat, but he's testing out what he discovered little kitten would do on the others. The older cats can take care of themselves.
My almost 2 year old left our big cat alone after he got a good swat for pulling his tail. And it's really the only time the cat scratches any child mine or day care --tail pulling and whisker pulling otherwise he's let the kids drive toys over him and such.
We're at the point where we dealing with our son not hitting some of the day care kids I look after when they have something he wants or he views as his (all of his personal toys are generally kept up in his bedroom, but some of the day care general toys he still thinks are his personal property).

He's also about to face some big changes as he goes from being the only child to a big brother. Be prepared for some regression or more aggression.
Again just be consistent. Get down at his level, make him show you gentle and soft hands on you and on himself. Redirect him to other activities when you can and ignore negative behaviour when you can.

All will be fine!
As my Mom keeps telling me, This too shall pass.

Good luck!

Jessica - posted on 09/10/2010

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To clarify, I know he isn't *actually* "mean." But he is being rough like he hasn't been before and I'm just not sure the best way to go about it. I also usually say more than just no. I say things like, don't grab, or pet nicely. I try to explain that it hurts the kitty. I do think they understand more than we give them credit for at that age, though I don't think he understands that his actions can cause others pain yet. I am sure that its part of his growing and learning about his world... but I want to teach him the best I can not to hurt the cats (or anything else).

JuLeah - posted on 09/10/2010

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He is not mean. He is a baby and trying to make sense of his world.

I would keep the kitten away from him and safe - older cats can take care of themselves, is my guess.

Keep teaching him with gentle words and hands ..... practice on stuffed toys (if he tosses toys around, he might not really see a difference)
I am sure he is a sweet tempered boy and will continue to be
And, remember, when you say 'No' it doesn't mean much to a 15 month old. Sometimes 'No' means, 'Don't spill' sometimes it means, "Don't run off" sometimes it means "don't hit" some times it means "hot, don't touch"

He is growing and learning and starting to push boundries - starting to see he has some power in the world - can make things happen (ohh wait till he finds a light switch or the TV power button)

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