“STOP PULLING THE CAT’S TAIL!” How many of you have said that to your toddler? Getting them to be nice to animals can be a tricky task sometimes.
The reason toddlers struggle to be nice to animals, is because they don’t realize they are being little pests, or even that they might be hurting the animal. They are still mastering the concept of cause and effect. Sometimes they don’t even realize how rough they are being because they don’t understand the difference between rough and gentle.
Have a pet at home?
Toddlers that grow up with a pet usually learn quicker than those who don’t grow up with a pet. I only say this because when they have a pet, they can watch you (the parents) interact with your pets and see how they should be behaving. Kids will copy everything they see. But, if you don’t have a family pet, be sure to make a point anytime you visit friends or family that have pets, to show them how to treat the animal.
We have a cat, and our son has always been obsessed with her. Every time we pet her, we are sure to tell our toddler “pet the kitty”, or “we love the kitty” just to encourage good behavior. Toddlers are very impressionable, so chances are if you’re nice, they are going to be nice too.
We all know our kids can be little heathens at times. So, when they do slip up and harass your pet, there are ways to handle it.
For starters, I wouldn’t yell at them if they are doing something you or the pet doesn’t like. Right now, they are still learning to make associations, and you don’t want your toddler to associate their pet with trouble. This could make the behavior worse in the future.
DEALING WITH BAD BEHAVIOR TOWARDS YOUR PETS
- Show them the correct way to treat the animal
- Explain to them what they were doing wasn’t nice
- Redirect their attention elsewhere
If you see your toddler being nice and loving your pet gently, PRAISE THEM! Positive feedback is the key!
My toddler’s favorite thing to do right now is follow our cat around.
Anyone who has a cat knows that’s a recipe for disaster. My cat starts getting mad after about 5 minutes of the “follow game” and she will start to run away from him. My toddler thinks it’s hilarious when she runs and will just chase her. The cat never finds it amusing and someone always ends up hurt.
So, when I see this beginning to happen, I redirect his attention. First, I tell him “the kitty is done playing”, and then I show him something else he could do, or take him in another room to completely make him forget. Eventually he’s going to understand what “the kitty is done playing” means and he will stop all on his own.
CONSISTENCY, it’s really the answer to almost everything.
Getting your child to be nice to animals is only a big problem when they are toddlers. There’s a communication barrier between you and your toddler. They don’t understand everything you say, and we don’t understand everything they are trying to say. Once they start talking more and communicating better, telling them to be nice to animals should be all it takes. Just remember, all kids learn at different paces!
Let me know how you guys have handled, teaching your kids to be nice to animals. Did you struggle or was it an easy thing to get them to understand?
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