My 5 year old killed her hamster :(

(42 Posts)
pinkypie Thu 06-Aug-09 01:26:01

Am devastated. Feel so awful.

My DD has epilepsy but no other diagnosed problems, she is very argumentative and quick tempered, has trouble concentrating but apparently is happy and cooperative at school and is very bright.

My older DD has a pet and she kept nagging me for one so we bought her a hamster. Tonight she had the cage in her room and I kept checking on her, she was just watching it in the cage, she was so happy to have her own pet. I told her a million times she was not to open the cage ever without me being there. Anyway she came downstairs with hamster in hand looking sad and said she thought it needed to go to the vets... poor thing had no visable injuries and was still warm but soon cooled down and was obviously dead.
My older DD burst into tears, me and DH started shouting asking her what she'd done, she was crying it was carnage... she was hysterical... I was just so angry that I'd trusted her and she'd got it out of the cage.

We calmed down and I asked her what happened, she said it wouldn't go to bed and she was trying to make it go to bed... I couldn't get much out of her, I think she most likely dropped it maybe into the cage from high up. It was a tiny dwarf hamster so very delicate.

Previous to this incident, a few months ago we were round a friends house who had puppies and she was playing with them, she was cuddling one nicely then all of a sudden threw/dropped it onto the floor. She didn't seem to understand why we were upset with her but she was pleased the dog was ok.

We have had dogs round and we have larger animals that she is maybe a bit rough with but wouldn't hurt them on purpose... i.e. carrying the dog around like a doll although the dog seemed quite happy...

I have gone to lengths to explain to her that animals are real creatures with feelings etc... and that they are very delicate and we need to take care of them. I personally would literally not hurt a fly, we are a family of animal lovers so please don't all jump on me, I honestly couldn't be more upset... In hindsight I know I shouldnt have bought her the hamster but she was so loving about it and happy I really thought I could trust her.

She has never had any problems hitting other children aside from her siblings occasionally, she plays with her soft toys lovingly and she is very loving with me and her family and friends.

Should I be worried? I am really worried about this, you hear all sorts about hurting animals being the start of violent behaviour etc...

Any advice would be great... we buried the hamster in the garden and I made her watch and told her that once something is dead it will never come back and how would you feel etc... trouble is, I get the impression that she is only ever half listening to me.. her behaviour and defiance is pretty atrocious at times to be honest and I have started questioning whether she may have ADD or some other behavioural issue. I know the epilepsy can cause behavioural issues though so it may be that either... she is on epilim for that and very rarely has episodes.

Her brother and sister are lovely well behaved children and we are a loving 'normal' family and I can't think of any external issues which may be causing her behaviour.

Sorry so long, needed to talk.... I think I may make an appt with my GP tomorrow for her.

OP’s posts: |
sandcastles Thu 06-Aug-09 01:46:45

I would think that she is just too young to have her own pet, in her own room with no supervision! No matter how gentle she is with her toys. Hampsters wiggle & it could have been that it tried to wiggly away & she tightened her grip, like dd (6) does with our guinea pigs.

I wouldn't have thought you need to be worried about violent behaviour just yet!

And children of this age only half listen most of the time anyway wink

Can't help to get some advise re ADD diagnosis if that is what you feel, I have no experience of this, but many here do & hopefully someone will be along soon!

sandcastles Thu 06-Aug-09 01:52:47

And I am sorry to say, but I think most children of this age would have gotten it out of the cage. Curiosity & all that!

So she either needed watching fully, or for it to be out of reach until someone could watch her.

Dd used to open the cage for our G pigs all the time & would try to grab at them. We have put heavy bricks on the top now to stop her.

JoesMummy09 Thu 06-Aug-09 02:01:50

I think the stories you hear about children torturing animals who then go on to become violent are nothing to do with your daughter.

She is very young and was probably a bit too rough or careless with the hamster. As she gets older she will understand more and take more care with animals.

I wouldn't fret about this. She is not going to be a serial killer because she accidentally snuffed out her hamster.

DidEinsteinsMum Thu 06-Aug-09 02:11:42

I would say the hamster issue on its own is a bit hmm but not enough to really worry about. I would suggest if there are other issues it might be worth whilt talking to your GP as they will be able to put your mind at rest.

I would also like to add that some kids have no concept of danger which is why my lovely ds (4) managed to poison a dog we were dogsitting and if it had been a small bred it would have snuffed it. Thankfully it was a large bred and survived after a £50 vet bill for treatment. He had not idea he was doing anything wrong, and i'm not sure even now he really grasps what happened. And he knows about death cos the family dog has died in his living memory. there is no link to consequences. But he'll get them in time, just longer for him then some i guess. Maybe you dd is a bit like this.

MmeLindt Thu 06-Aug-09 06:31:32

I suspect that it was an accident brought about by curiosity and carelessness. She seems to have been very remorseful about it so not serial killer tendencies just not ready to take on responsibility for a pet yet.

My DD was 6.5yo when we got our puppy last year. She was told MANY times not to give the dog chocolate as it is very dangerous for dogs. The dog started vomitting one evening, was really not well. DD finally admitted to having let the dog lick the carton of choc yogurt earlier.

I was fuming, DD was in tears, puppy thankfully recovered well and DD is now extra careful.

Do get some advice about behavioural problems if you are worried about your DD but don't fret about the hamster.

duchesse Thu 06-Aug-09 06:39:22

She's only five. Five is too young to fully understand death and/or empathise with small creatures. It was an accident, hopefully that she will learn masses from. She is probably really shocked as well.

My then 6 yr old son accidentally dropped and killed one of our guinea pigs. It later transpired that he had been "entertaining" it by giving it circus-type swings. He absolutely had no idea that this was a bad thing to do. Obviously it had not been on the long list of things he'd been instructed not to do with the guinea pigs. He was really shocked by the whole experience and was never rough with them again.

JustKeepSwimming Thu 06-Aug-09 06:54:15

I would agree with others that this by itself is not a sign of serial killer tendencies so put that thought out of your head, ok?

You may feel unhappy with other areas and can explain those to the GP and see what kind of referral system there may be, if you are still unhappy, keep pushing for further opinions re the poss ADD.

If you decide to try again with a pet, maybe keep it downstairs/in the kitchen so it can be supervised more easily. also aren't hamsters nocturnal mostly anyway so not best kept in a bedroom as they will be up and rustling at night disturbing the DC? and maybe something a bit more robust to start with?

You were all obv upset but i would think it was an accident and say these things happen, as long as you try your best to prevent it happening again, don't stress too much.

Oh and sympathy re the epilepsy but glad the epilim has worked for her - if it stops working at any time, or you are unhappy with side-effects make sure you go back to the docs for that too.

FlightHattendant Thu 06-Aug-09 06:58:38

I think you need to make less of an issue, tbh.
I have a 6yo boy, we have two guinea pigs and there's no way I'd let him play unsupervised with them - in fact I let him have very little to do with them, as they are nervous creatures and if they wriggled he'd be bound to drop them. He's extremely curious and would also get bored and want to 'try' things with them...iykwim!

He is a lovely and mainly respectful boy but when he is perhaps tired or fed up, he will be unreliable especially if he has scissors or something. He just can't always be trusted.

I know some kids (often girls!) are very calm and gentle but some just are not built that way I suspect. I sometimes fear that ds is a bit odd or going to turn into a psychopath or something grin but I really think it's just ordinary impulsive behaviour for a 5/6yo.

I might add that I dropped a neighbour's puppy when I was about 11 - standing up shock - because I'd never held one and thought they were like cats, ie could just land on their feet. Luckily she was fine and lived to a ripe old age but their daughter never spoke to me again blushblush

The puppy incident sounds like it wriggled or nipped her and she just freaked momentarily.

Sounds like she was really scared last night. I don't think you need worry about her reactions x

belgo Thu 06-Aug-09 07:11:14

Agree with Flight. My girls have a rabbit and they have been none to pick it up by its ears or throw it down roughly - but they are 3 and 5 years old - I need to supervise them very closely until they learn how to handle animals safely.

Pinkypie - it just sounds like you expected too much of your dd, and what happened was an accident. Don't try and make her feel any worse then she feels.

FlightHattendant Thu 06-Aug-09 07:14:52

<<waves at Belgo and her lovely hair>> smile

belgo Thu 06-Aug-09 07:17:04

It's not looking so lovely this morning resembles a scarecrow in factblush It just doesn't look greasygrin

throckenholt Thu 06-Aug-09 07:37:11

I agree with the others - she is too young to have deliberately killed it - and too young to have been responsible for it too.

I think aslo kids are used to soft toys that you can do whatever with and they come to no harm - it is very difficult for them to understand that real living animals are not like that. They only learn that through experience - eg being scratched by a cat they were trying to pull, or similar. You telling them doesn't get through.

My 6 years olds know they must not leave the front door open - our 8 month old puppy ran out of the door and was run over last year - so they have personal experience of the consequences. We have a new dog now - but they still forget sometimes and get yelled at to shut the door. The 8 year old gets it almost always - but the younger ones forget in the heat of the moment.

RealityIsHavingAPartay Thu 06-Aug-09 07:47:00

Message withdrawn

belgo Thu 06-Aug-09 07:58:31

pinkypie - I'm just re- reading your post, and I'm very sad for your dd that you made her watch you burying the hamster.

'we buried the hamster in the garden and I made her watch and told her that once something is dead it will never come back and how would you feel etc... trouble is, I get the impression that she is only ever half listening to me'

I imagine the reason why she was only half listening to you is because she is FIVE years old and she could not cope with the emotions that you were trying to force her to feel by making her watch the burial and explaining at length about the consequences of death. She is simply too young to cope with that.

Is it possible that if you have unrealistic expectations of her caring for a hamster, and understanding the consequences of death etc, then you also have unrealistic expectations of her behaviour in general?

I also have a five year old girl and she is also very defiant and lively, but also very loving just as you describe your own dd.

RealityIsHavingAPartay Thu 06-Aug-09 08:00:30

Message withdrawn

sarah293 Thu 06-Aug-09 08:03:45

Message withdrawn

purepurple Thu 06-Aug-09 08:09:44

Poor child
You left her with the hamster in her bedroom unsupervised and expected her not to take it out?
Poor hamster
Would you have left her with a baby unsupervised?
You had a duty of care to that poor hamster and you have failed it.
I wonder if you are perhaps feeling guilty and throwing all your guilt at your DD.
Because it is easier to blame a 5 year old than take the blame and responsibility yourself.

IsItMeOr Thu 06-Aug-09 08:27:27

I don't have experience of 5yos (yet), but did have epilepsy as a child and took epilim. As far as I understand, epilepsy is the result of some type of brain damage, so it's always possible that there is other related damage, I guess. But honestly, I think you made a mistake and she's a fairly typical five year old.

My grandad died when I was five, and I really didn't understand what was going on. He lived a long way away, so I didn't see him very often, so didn't really know him at all well. My most vivid memory is of my dsis (aged 11) crying and telling me off for being horrid for not being sad sad.

Unless there is something else, I would just draw a line under it.

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 06-Aug-09 08:32:04

Your poor dd. I agree with others that this was certainly an accident, not evidence of killer instincts!

If it's any comfort, my sister accidentally killed her hamster at about the same age, and 40 years later she still isn't showing any psychotic tendencies grin

ZephirineDrouhin Thu 06-Aug-09 08:34:32

"You had a duty of care to that poor hamster and you failed it" is a little harsh I feel.

Just put it down to experience and move on.

fishie Thu 06-Aug-09 08:40:57

hamsters (esp dwarf ones) are not good pets for the very young anyway, too small and fragile and nocturnal.

how is your dd today pinkiepie? agree with zeph, don't go over it again, it must be very shocking for her and a horrible introduction to consequences.

purepurple Thu 06-Aug-09 08:41:21

so is making a 5 year old watch a dead hamster being buried and being blamed for killing it

troutpout Thu 06-Aug-09 08:47:23

No...she will not be a serial killer were wrong to let her have her own pet..she is too young.I would say around 10 is a more appropriate age.
Yes...perhaps there are other behavioural issues associated with the epilepsy and you could ask for a referral.
You made a mistake...but blardyell don't we all.hmm People are being a bit harsh here.

pinkypie Thu 06-Aug-09 09:29:40

OK, maybe I was being harsh with her, I did hug her and comfort her, I'm not completely unsympathetic! Maybe I expect too much of her, my other 2 children have always been so mature and responsible I sometimes don't know how to handle her, I love her so much but she challenges me every day! She is the youngest by a long way and I think she sometimes plays on it and maybe feels overhsadowed by her siblings although she by FAR gets the most attention.

I just reached the end of my tether to be honest and yes I do feel guilty but I am not perfect hence coming on here asking for advice.

Thing is her 11 yo sister shares her room and she was only on her own with it for an hour or so before she went to bed. I checked on her a few times, she was supposed to be going to sleep and was just lying in bed watching a DVD. I only let her have it in her room for that night as she had said she thought it might be scared, I said after that night she would have to let us keep it downstairs.

Thanks for the re-assurance, I feel a bit better, if it had been an isolated incident then maybe I would have been more relaxed about it but I am a bit worried about her anyway.

She's ok today, she came downstairs and I explained gently to her about why I was angry and said that maybe when she is older I will let her have another pet. That seemed to cheer her up and I'm taking her to soft play so will not mention it again.

OP’s posts: |

Join the discussion

To comment on this thread you need to create a Mumsnet account.

Join Mumsnet

Already have a Mumsnet account? Log in