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Help Im at my wit end with Liam. He is so good in almost every way but he is being mean to our pets. He chases them with his toys and he throws things at them and hits them with things. And the whole time, he is cracking up he thinks its funny to see them scared. I dont know what to do about it. I feel like Ive tried everything. Ive ignored it, told him calmly that we have to be gentle, taken his hands and showed him how to be gentle, firmly told him no, given him the stink eye, yelled at him, put him in time out (that lasted 5 seconds) It sounds dramatic but im starting to worry that he will become a sociopath, you know taking pleasure in hurting animals is usually the first sign. I just can't make him stop all he does is laugh at me. I need ideas.
Also I can separate him from the animals to keep them safe and all but they get upset that they arent with us so then we deal with that.
There's a lot to the column, but to reassure you that Liam's behavior seems totally normal:
what your child is doing? With the grabbing/poking/pulling/yanking all the livelong day? NORMAL. Completely, 100% normal and expected and developmentally appropriate. Not to say that it’s NOT a giant pain in the *** because yes, it hurts to get your hair pulled and animals certainly can’t be told that hey, that small yanky child currently gnawing on your tail is simply exploring the world of sensory/tactile experiences and dabbling with a little cause and effect, so don’t get mad at him, okay?
But that’s exactly what your son is doing. He’s just starting to get a sense of control over a full set of arms and legs and feet and fingers (that for MONTHS now have twitched and kicked and grabbed mostly on reflex/instinct) and he’s starting to realize that he can have a physical effect on the world around him, and that some of this sensory input is really freaking interesting. Blocks get knocked over. Balls get thrown. Mama makes a funny noise when I bite her. Etc.!
Oh, and someone had this to say in the comments, regarding laughing:
"He doesn’t understand that his actions hurt other people and when he does start understanding that you’re upset it may continue because laughter is a common reaction to stress; especially in kids."
Good Luck Becky. I don't have any words of wisdom. Our dogs spend alot of time outside so Jacob's not with them alot but he does run them out of their dog beds so he can play in them. Although they won't let him get close enough to them so he hasn't hit them.
Thank you *Kiliki* for my beautiful siggy