My four year old is mean to the babysitter's cats? He is not mean to animals at home (although we do not have pets ourselves). What can I do?
According to my sitter, he pushes her cats off counters and down stairs and then laughs. I have asked him about it and he has said he was mad. But that does not explain the laughter. He is nice to neighborhood animals at home. I am very concerned - what should I do?
It is always concerning when children mistreat animals, but it sounds like your son's behavior is not consistent because he only treats animals this way when he is at the sitter's house. Many times kids misbehave if they can get away with it, and they will test those who are in charge to see how far they can go.
Many children don't develop empathy until they are in middle or even later childhood. Four year-olds are just starting to learn that the things they do affect other people or animals. However children do understand cause and effect, that a certain action will produce a certain effect.
Make sure the sitter is giving your son a consequence when he mistreats the cats, and not just telling him that what he is doing is wrong, such as a time out or taking something away from him for the rest of the day. A consequence that he can feel rather than just hear works the best for toddlers and preschoolers. It can be explained to him: "because you hurt the cats, you will go to time out."
Over time your son will make the connection that what he is doing isn't the right thing to do, because it ends with him being unhappy. You and the sitter can also try to build his empathy. After the time out, encourage him to think about how he feels when he is hurt or sad, and tell him in a nurturing way that's how the cats feel when he's too rough with them.
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i have a four year old son as well. when he do something bad i put him in time out and i take away the thing he love to play. it'll teach him a lesson. sit down and talk to your son and explain to him that love animal just like you love your favorite toys.