Does your tot terrorize the family cat? Do you find yourself constantly telling your kid to put down kitty? It’s a common problem.
Sure children take an interest in pets and love having a playmate. However, if you’re constantly having to remind and nag your child about leaving the cat alone, it’s not the cat that is interesting to your child, it’s your attention to the matter.
The child’s motivation behind this behavior is not to play with the cat, but to play with you! It’s your verbal nattering on that assures the child your are engaged with them (albeit it negatively). After all, if the child chose to leave the cat alone, they would be ignored. Need some of mom’s attention? Simple – pull the cat’s tail. She can’t ignore that behavior. She’s sure to talk about that!
The trick to bringing about a change is to ignore all “cat-attacking behaviors.” If the cat antics no longer work in getting mom’s attention, the child will abandon the behavior. No sense getting scratched for nothing.
However, if we fail to address their real need to feel some sense of connection with you, they’ll just find some other shenanigans to get into. For young children distraction and re-direction to another activity or conversation with you works best. Continue to build up the relationship through meaningful interactions.