DS nearly 5 behaviour and teasing cat-advice please(38 Posts)
My DS(almost 5) is being really challenging at the moment.
Lots of silliness and behaviour that gets a bit hyper.
There are lots of examples of him not listening and not following Instructions even when he has been made to listen. Eg, hold your cup when drinking with a tall straw. I put his hand on the cup and make him look in my eye to reinforce that he needs to do this. Seconds later, he has let go of the cup whilst being silly and the milk is everywhere.
Staying in a chair at mealtimes is also a problem. He will fidget lots, flop on the table, elbows and hands knocking things off, getting down lots-especially if our cat is in the room. (See more about cat below).
Behaviour around our cat is becoming a real problem.
He is drawn like a magnet to the cat and loves to do attention seeking behaviour directed at the cat. First stroking, then the giggling starts, then rougher stroking or putting a small toy on the cat or a noisy toy near the cat. Then if the cat doesn’t react, DS will up his game, prod him, find a bigger toy etc and on it goes.
We of course stop this as soon as we are aware/ can get to him (3 story house). It’s cruel (though weirdly the cat seems to stick around for more!) and I hate it. It really upsets DD (10) too who adores our cat and is so gentle with him.
Obviously, sometimes the cat will react and scratch DS or simply go outside. Scratching DS causes DS to get upset for a couple of minutes and then, if it was a bad one, stay away for about 30 mins. But then DS is back for more.
For my part, I count him if I think the stroking was not gentle or even jump straight to time out if it was harmful for our cat. DS will do the time out and be disgruntled with having to do it, but before long, DS is back for more. My DD will also come and get me if she spots DS being anything other than kind to the cat. I will also make the cat go outside for a bit if I can’t get DS to stop.
Im trying to work out how to stop it, obviously, but also wondering what is driving this behaviour and I’m wondering if it’s some kind of sibling rivalry at work -where DS gets loads of attention from the cat and DD (albeit negative) and he’s just loving the attention.
I’m an ex-teacher, I feel like I should be able to do a better job with this. I’m also currently a SAHM, so I have time to put strategies in place and work this out. I have time to give him positive attention, so why does he crave the negative??
Just to add, I don’t think DS has any special needs. He’s very testosterone fuelled in his behaviour -he loves rough play, pretend fighting, destroying toys etc. He’s also a lovely boy, loves to cuddle, ask questions and help me with the shopping etc. I’m very aware this is unfair on our cat and it will not continue-I just need a better plan.
No more straws. There's no need for them anyway unless you're an invalid or disabled.
If he can't be trusted with an open cup, make him drink all drinks sitting at the table in the kitchen.
But this is concerning
*I will also make the cat go outside for a bit if I can’t get DS to stop.
As for this*
Why can't you make him stop? Remove him physically. Take his arm and lead him away. Make the sanctions stronger. If he is warned to stop and does not, take away a favourite toy for 24 hours. That's long enough to make an impression.
If he's nice to the cat, praise him.
I’ve actually ordered some shorter straws this morning. The silliness and not concentrating at the table seems to make meal time longer than necessary so I’d just like him to finish his meal, in particular when it’s breakfast on a school day. Straws help to get liquid down faster than being nagged at to take another sip.
With regards to getting him to stop his teasing of our cat, sometimes the time out works for a while. I can redirect him to something else, or he’s sulking after time out and the cat has chosen to be somewhere out of sight.
But other times I’m trying to cook, make a phone call, helping DD with homework etc so I THINK the situation has been dealt with (time out, telling off) but then I hear giggling somewhere and realise he’s doing it again. So I time out again, for longer.
The time out doesn’t seem to stop the unwanted behaviour for long enough, or else, the urge to ‘play’ with the cat is too strong.
He has loads of toys but really, he’s not very interested in any of them. I can’t honestly think of what I could take away that would be a punishment for him. He doesn’t even have a favourite cuddly toy!
I’ll keep thinking about what he would miss if it was taken away.
I know. I know. That’s why I’m posting for help with stopping it.
You need to remove him from the cat every single time he does it, and put him somewhere that he cannot access the cat from, in his room with the door shut, for example. You need to actually supervise him and be consistent all the time rather than letting cooking and being on the phone take priority. If he can be alone with the cat he can be alone in his room. If he can't be trusted with the cat he can't be alone with the cat. If that's too hard then rehome the cat to a kinder household.
Don't punish the cat for being abused by putting it outside, take control.
Don’t leave him unattended if the cat is about.
What consequence is there for this behaviour?
Definitely get rid of the straws, much harder to make a mess.
Does he still use a child’s chair at the table? If so can you strap him in? Might help with the silliness at the table.
Teasing the cat has to stop. So if time outs aren’t working I’d go for losing a toy every single time he does it.
Does he like things like Hama beads? Jigsaws? Could he do that at the table so you can keep an eye on him whilst cooking?
I would go crazy overboard for positive reinforcements around the cat. And lots and lots of distraction techniques for when you can see he’s about to to over to it (before you even know if it’s going to be a positive or negative interaction).
I imagine you’re going to be exhausted from it but it’s better than constantly having to say ‘no’ to a brick wall.
Agree the straws need to go. If he doesn't finish his meal then he'll be hungry and perhaps be a bit faster the next day. A five year old neurotypical child shouldn't need a straw. You're making it harder on yourself
Also second him having to be alone in his room if he can't be kind to the cat. If cat is around and he can't be nice then he doesn't get to stay in the place where the cat is. Be vigilant on it and shut it down every single time.
I have no idea if you're telling the cat off when it eventually scratches, but don't do this if you are. The cat is scratching from self defence and DS needs to learn that it was his own fault for being cruel.
It's odd that your DD is nice to the cat. Perhaps your DS thinks DD is getting more attention. I'm not saying that's the case. He may perceive that she is.
I would remove half his toys if he has lots, (not to punish him) then bring out a different one every now and then, and swap with ones that are out, if that makes sense.
Do you think there might be a bit of jealousy here? It is really naughty, my DS was like this with our kitten, he just loved playing with him. It seemed to always get out of hand and end up with him going over the top like shutting the kitten in a cupboard. The kitten loved it and will spend all day charging around with DS. I found the nasty element came into it when I asked him to calm down or gave the kitten any attention. I made DS go sit in his room and removed the kitten to another room. I've never ever seen him behave with any spite to anyone else and he's usually a really kind considerate little boy.
Definitely separate him from the cat with closed doors. As a reception kid he can understand that his behaviour has meant you have to keep the cat safe now. He's only allowed around the cat when you are free to supervise. Once you see that he can consistently spend 30 mins - 1 hour with you and the cat without teasing then you can slowly start allowing him 5/10 mins without you supervising but if he hasn't learnt then its back to no time with the cat.
Find activities that he can do in the same room as you if you need to do things like cook, clean. Sounds like he needs toddler like supervision again until his behaviour improves.
Food/table silliness - we have this. I need to rejig the seating so they are not next to each other first and then I am considering warning them that if food is not eaten because of their playing then its going to be removed and actually let them go hungry as I am losing my rag with this as well at the moment.
I also tried to make a fuss of DS whilst he was playing nicely with the kitten and fussed the kitten after DS had gone to bed.
Please don’t put the cat out, it’ll go and find itself a new home.
Tell him he can't play with the cat at all unless he gets explicit permission from you and you will supervise. If he plays with the cat without you then make him stay in his room until you can supervise. Tell him it's your job to keep the cat safe and you will. To be I'd be proper roaring at him by now if he was continuing to torture the cat. He needs to know it's a redline.
Thanks everyone -some really good ideas and thoughts here. I’m taking it onboard whilst dear cat is on my knee having a lovely snuggle.
To answer some questions:
I don’t think he is being spiteful -it’s like he can’t get it in his head because he’s enjoying it doesn’t mean that the cat is. he is surprised when he gets scratched.
The cat is never told off for scratching him. DS deserves it if he’s not being nice.
Consequences so far have been lots of telling offs, calm talks about how we care for pets, and time outs. Sometimes I have put the cat outside for a while in order to separate them, but as a poster said I don’t want the cat to think he’s not welcome, so I’m going to stop doing that.
He will go to time out and doesn’t like it, so I will continue with that but will generally supervise better and it will be time out immediately for touching the cat without my permission.
I actually think I need to sharpen up on rules around that cat. We already have not touching him whilst he’s eating’ but I will add no touching/disturbing/playing with him at all without an adults permission. I will also give him the job of topping up cats food and water bowl to show how we care for him.
I really wish he would do Hamma beads, puzzles, colouring etc at the table, but he has no interest at all in it. I can set up potion making and car ramps though. And I’m going to look on Pinterest for some more ideas for play in the kitchen to keep him busy and focussed appropriately whilst I’m occupied with cooking.
His room is on the third floor of the house, its a loft room and it’s unsafe to put a door on it. He has long been able to climb stair gates so it’s difficult to separate him for the family. My DD won’t tolerate him in her room at all.
I think there may be an element of jealousy. But I’m not sure. Maybe also not wanting to be the youngest/smallest. I’m going to watch him like hawk for the next few evenings to see what is happening just before he starts teasing.
Behaviour at the table is also really getting to me. I’m going to move his chair (Tripp trap) to the other side of the table so he can’t see the cat come into the room as he’s got a great view at the minute.
He’s up a couple of times a night too and I’m tired. But writing this has made me more focussed to have a plan in place rather than get frustrated that he’s on pace again misbehaving.
Thanks so much everyone
Just try to remember that at this age everything is a passing stage. It will get better, even if it has to briefly get worse to make it happen.
If he doesn't play with toys, does he look at screens; if so, I would remove them.
He needs to leave the cat alone. End of.
Time out clearly isn’t working. You need a different/more effective consequence.
He is being unkind. He must leave the cat alone.
Thankyou. I think I’d forgotten that some of his toddler type behaviour is bound to still be around at 4. I’m on it with renewed energy!
I would spend time with him and the cat. sit and play with it and demonstrate the right way to play, how to be gentle etc
Nearly 5 is old enough to be told to leave the cat alone.
Mine like to play with the cat too, cat has a cat tree with very tall top nest where he can retreat to if they're pissing him off. I do redirect/intervene if the little one is being rough in cuddling stroking but if the cat doesn't seem to mind I leave them to play - surely if your cat isn't getting up and moving it's not troubling him too much? Our cat is very loved and happy by the way, he often jumps onto the sofa to curl up next to the kids so I do not think he is at all distressed by them.
yesthats this makes me wonder too, why doesn’t the cat just move? Although I feel like im victim blaming saying that. It’s not that I think the cat should have to move, but more why isn’t he moving. Maybe the cat is liking it some of the time?
I made a kallax insert with a hole in it for the cat at Xmas So he does have somewhere to retreat to that’s out of Ds’s way. And there are two cat flaps so the cat is never cut off from being able to get out if he wants to.
He does have a screen but it’s timed to half an hour per day. It’s a good idea though, I will add that to the consequences.
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