Teaching kindness to animals
Q: I can't seem to make my 3½-year-old understand that he will hurt my cat if he is too rough with her. He doesn't hit her, but he does push her off the couch or sometimes pets her roughly as he's walking by. The concern is that my cat is almost 18 years old and I’m afraid he’ll hurt her if he’s too rough with her. He is obviously jealous of her because he sometimes gets upset when she gets in my lap. Other times, he's just as sweet as can be to her. I tell him over and over again to be nice with her and put him in time-out when he isn’t, but is doesn't help. Most times he says he doesn't like the cat. I want him to be kind to all animals, but don't seem to have any success in convincing him to be. Any suggestions?
A: Has the cat ever scratched or snarled at him? Cats are usually patient with young children, but sometimes they play roughly. Perhaps it would help if you could involve him in some of the cat’s care—filling her dish, putting water in her bowl, etc. Also, you could ask him to help you know when the dish is almost empty (this way, you’d be giving him some responsibility for her). And maybe you could make a point of not holding the cat until after he is in bed. See if these suggestions will help.