BINKYBUNNY FORUMS > THE LOUNGE > My daughter and the animals: Problem
Last Post by Princess*Smudge at 10/27/2012 3:25 PM (27 Replies)
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User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/04/2012 8:52 AM

I posted this question on FB so I'm just gonna copy & paste...

My daughter is almost two and we have a kitten and a house rabbit. The kitten we have only had for about a month and the rabbit I have had for 5 or 6 years... They are allowed to run around when I am home to supervise. We recently ran into a problem where my daughter will kick the rabbit, swat at the kitten and often grabs ahold of the animals fur and skin. I've also caught her pulling on tails and limbs and grabbing the kitten by the neck in an effort to pick her up. When I tell her to stop and that she is hurting them...She laughs at me. I am at my wits end. I have always had animals in my home (even though I am mildly allergic lol) and would hate to think that I couldn't now. How do I get her to stop? I have shown her how to hold the cat and she will sometimes carry her around the house but I have to pick her up and give her the kitty. My daughter is terrorizing these poor animals when all I wanted her to learn was what a joy it was to share your life with fuzzy little creatures..

I'll post the responses later, but what do you guys think?


User is Offline Stickerbunny
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10/04/2012 9:24 AM
Honestly, at that age they can get mean to animals. Explain to her she cannot kick them or hurt them, that it hurts. If she continues to do it, give her time outs or whatever punishment you give for being bad. For some kids, you have to limit the interaction they have with animals to ONLY when you are around to watch them, until they grow out of that phase. My cousins daughter is two and a holy terror - she's even put wart remover on as lipgloss. If she wants to pet the animals, someone holds her and holds the animal and goes "nicely, softly" and holds her hand while she pets them, that way if she tries to get rough they can stop her since they are in control. You may have to limit the space your bunny / cat can have until she gets a little older, make the exercise room off limits to her when they are out. And only let her associate with the animals when you can closely watch until you are sure she won't hurt them.

User is Offline Sarita
(Dallas)
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10/04/2012 9:58 AM
I don't think she is intentionally being mean at all. I do think at this age, don't they call it the terrible two's....that she just needs a little more supervision with the animals. I wonder if you could ask her why she is behaving this way (she probably couldn't give you an answer but just curious if she does understand why she is acting this way with them) but maybe some positive reinforcement and showing her continually the proper way to handle them might help.

I wonder if the kitty tried to scratch or bite her or play with her and she doesn't understand how kittens play.


User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
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10/04/2012 10:11 AM
I think she is just so early in her own development that she will have trouble being reasoned with. I would actually not allow her with the animals at all except during planned sessions with you and her and each of them separately, for a limited time. Can you keep her totally away from both animals until you can sit down with them and gently pick each one up, place it next to her or in her lap, teach her to pet it gently, then remove it from her and put it back in habitat or separate room? (Sorry about using 'it' but I mean the rabbit and the kitten one at a time.) Do not allow her to ever pick up the animal, at least until she is more like 4 years old than 2 or 3. She just is still learning by touching just as the kitten is learning by tasting and it is very, very young for each of them to comprehend the other. Any action that causes the animal pain has to be a big no-no, with your daughter being able to fully understand exactly what she did to hurt it, and be given a quick punishment (a time out?) for that.

Here's a radical idea: try a bit of the clicker training theory. Don't use a clicker on your daughter, but what if she gets praise and rewarded every time she handles the animal gently and the right way, or each time she stops herself from hurting it and says a phrase like "I didn't hurt" and then doesn't do the harmful gesture, you see it, and praise her? Let her pet the pet if she does it right. I don't know if I'm saying this right, but I'm trying to say positive reinforcement for her so she learns that correct treatment of animals has an instant reward. Positive reinforcement works really, really well on pets, and it's been tried on special human situations, so I'd be curious to see if it would help in this situation.
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User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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10/04/2012 10:54 AM
Shes too young to understand. You need to set a firm no touching rule and stick with it until she is older. This will mean you need to divert her rather than the animals.
I have a 3 and 4 year old, they were 2 and 3 when I got my bunnies. I taught my 3 year old the 2 finger petting rule, using her index and middle finger she was allowed to pet the bunnies. My at the time 2 year old learned that as well, but frankly everything she knows, she knows because of her sister so its normally not reasonable to expect that from a child her age.

User is Offline longhairmike
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10/04/2012 12:19 PM
get an X-pen and leash,,

then your bun can run free about the rest of the house

User is Online LittlePuffyTail
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10/04/2012 12:22 PM
I agree with SamandLady'sHuman.

Mike, as soon as I saw you posted in this thread, I knew it would be some smart butt response!
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User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/04/2012 1:57 PM
I wonder if the kitty tried to scratch or bite her or play with her and she doesn't understand how kittens play.


She has scratched her (trying to get away mostly) and has swatted at her (claws retracted) and my daughter just laughed... My daughter does head butt her (like the cat greeting cause I do it too- maybe i shouldn't "talk" to the animals in front of her...lol)

Here's a radical idea: try a bit of the clicker training theory. Don't use a clicker on your daughter.


I'm sorry but that sentence made me laugh at loud! That is a really good idea, I have been trying to tell her "good girl" when she is gentle or when she holds her correctly.

User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/04/2012 2:04 PM
Oh Mike, you mean get the xpen and leash for my daughter? LMAO

I missed that until I saw LPT's post...

SamandLadyshuman- When halo was still alive (and my daughter was about 9 months old) she would pet Halo and was so gentle. Now she pulls on Bud's ears and Toodles tail...but the no touch rule is probably the best idea...

Someone on facebook told me to pull my daughters hair so she knows "what it feels like" I'm like, that seems a bit cruel...lol

The thing is that neither of the animals will run from my daughter or avoid her in anyway... Toodles will actually cuddle up to her when she is sleeping...so even though this poor cat is being tortured during the day...she doesn't hold grudges. ..


User is Offline Hazel
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10/04/2012 2:07 PM

I have no children and therefore no first hand experience, so please don't take offense. The fact that she laughs at you when you tell her to stop and that she's hurting the animals is a huge red flag. She obviously doesn't take what you say seriously, she seems to think it's a game. You will have to discipline her in a way that she doesn't take as a joke. Being 2 years old she can't really be expected to understand how to properly interact with small animals, so for now I would advise you to not let her touch them at all, like Sam and Lady's Human already said. It might seem harsh, but the animals safety is more important than what the little one wants.

 

Good luck, it's the terrible twos I guess 

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User is Offline peppypoo
Texas
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10/04/2012 2:27 PM
SirThumpsey, I'm glad you're taking our comments with good humor...props! I know all moms only want what's best, but some take to parenting suggestions with more of an open mind than others. And it only gets more difficult with the Internet in between! That being said, I don't have much experience with children, but as I think others have said maybe you could try sitting down and practicing how to interact with the animals?

"Show me how you pick up the kitty"
"Show me how to pet the bunny...good girl!"

Something like that?

Also, I don't necessarily agree that her behavior is a red flag, or that she thinks it's a game - empathy and the ability to understand how others feel are concepts that are eventually gained along the early childhood developmental process. It may be difficult for a two-year-old to comprehend that her playful actions are inflicting pain on another being, especially a non-human one that is gentle enough to not fight or bite in retaliation.

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User is Offline Skipper's Mama
Florida
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10/04/2012 2:32 PM

My mom was a preschool/kindergarden teacher and we've had friends who bring their little ones around our cats. We've taught them the gentle petting technique that Sam's&Lady'sHuman has suggested. I know it's hard to kind of deal with young ones around pets who are fragile. I suggest gently but firmly explaining to her that it is NOT okay to be rough with the pets. And like RP and Stickerbunny said have her sit while being with the pets and give time outs if she refuses to listen. But definitely she needs to be sitting. Being a "calm" state of sitting and relaxing goes a long way with little ones. I know this may sound dumb. But I can't stress enough being consistent with the procedure of doing things and the punishment that goes along with wrong behaviors. (I've seen perfectly wonderful kids become terrors because their parents weren't consistent.)  But I'm being silly and you're a wonderful parent and don't need to be told that. 


User is Offline LBJ10
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10/04/2012 3:36 PM
I remember my niece going through a similar phase when she was about 2. She would chase our dog around while visiting. Once she got her cornered under the table and then was beating her with her own toy. My dog was terrified and started growling (she never growls). My niece, of course, just laughed. I remember my brother-in-law saying he hoped our dog would snap at her so she would learn her lesson. I don't know if he was joking or not. I suppose though that small children do learn from consequences. Like if they stick their hand into something and they get pinched, they know not to do that again.

User is Offline Hazel
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10/04/2012 5:15 PM
Posted By peppypoo on 10/04/2012 04:27 PM
Also, I don't necessarily agree that her behavior is a red flag, or that she thinks it's a game - empathy and the ability to understand how others feel are concepts that are eventually gained along the early childhood developmental process. It may be difficult for a two-year-old to comprehend that her playful actions are inflicting pain on another being, especially a non-human one that is gentle enough to not fight or bite in retaliation.

Well maybe the red flag was too strong, I just meant that it can become dangerous for the animals and it could quickly go very wrong.

When I said it's a game to her I mainly was talking about her parents telling her off and her laughing at it, not necessarily relating to the animals (although I assume she treats them this way because it's fun for her, but she's young and doesn't understand what she's doing, so that's not her fault).

"You ain't buna fide!"

User is Offline Beka27
Cleveland, Ohio (USA)
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10/04/2012 5:56 PM
I haven't read all of the responses (I just breezed through quickly as I'm on my phone) but something from your original post concerned me. Please, please, please do not let her lift or carry either of the animals. She is too young to do so safely and it's very easy for the animals to hurt her (scratches/bites) if they don't want to be held or don't feel secure. For this same reason, this is also a safety risk for the animals who can be badly hurt if restrained the wrong way, or worse, dropped.
We've had our rabbits for years, and to this day, our 9yo son has never held either of them. He interacts with them the way they should be, with 4 feet on the floor. Animals should always have the option to leave a situation.

Even for me, I only hold/restrain them for grooming, nail trims, or administering medication. When she's older (a teenager), that would be the appropriate time to demonstrate proper handling and health maintenance.
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User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/05/2012 8:22 AM
Hazel- I understood what you meant by red flag so no worries. If she was older then yes I think it would be a huge red flag. I think she just doesn't understand but the laughing does seriously concern me.

When I am right with her she does pretty well with petting for the most part.

LBJ- I'm not sure if he was joking or not but our landlord has said something very similar and if the kitty scratches her that she will eventually learn. I would be afraid that she might grow up thinking that the kitty is being mean and might not see or understand the cause and effect of "If I pull her tail, I get scratched"

Beka- That is a very good point. I probably shouldn't have let her carry the kitty around.. At this point Bud is too big for her to even lift and I've told her that mommy only picks him up for maintenance (which does happen a lot) Now whether she understands this quite yet, I don't know.
She is actually pretty good with carrying Toodles around and has put her down very nicely but I think that is part of the problem...She tries to pick her up but grabs her tail or something

Last night after her dad got home she was sitting on the chair and she grabbed Toodles (I have a hard time calling her that, even though that is her name, I often just call her Kitty lol) She grabbed her by one of her back legs and I was holding the kitty around the tummy and trying to get my daughter to let go of the cat and she just wouldn't. Then hubby asked me why I was yelling... -.- He just told me to redirect her....

o.o Seriously? Without smacking her hands (cause I worry that it will encourage her to hit others) In the event that she does grab ahold of one of them but won't let go...How do I get her to let go...Should I just pry her hand open and then discipline her?


User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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10/05/2012 9:20 AM
Yeah, pretty much. Stern "Let Go". Remove hands, sit in 2 minute time out.

User is Offline Stickerbunny
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10/05/2012 2:53 PM
My family holds their toddlers hand then if she tries to grab hold they pry her fingers off ASAP to avoid injury to the animal

User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/05/2012 3:15 PM
Thanks guys. Hubby can be pretty useless when it comes to certain things. I love him to death but he tells me to google how to discipline her (yeah, okay) or tells me to redirect her but doesn't tell me how...

He would be better off giving me an example of a word salad..
(for those who don't know many schizophrenics and some politicians will say things that might grammatically make sense but have no real meaning..)

User is Offline RabbitPam
South Florida
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10/06/2012 2:43 AM
It sounds like you're trying out some of the suggestions here and as they start to work she will just keep growing and getting older, so by the time you get it all under control the animals will have survived and she'll be 30 so it will all be fine.

Seriously, hang in there. You're doing well. I agree that it's great you are open to suggestions and have a sense of humor about it. I love that I made you laugh but you still got my point.

As for hubby, his gifts for father's day should be Dr. Spock's Parenting book, the other most popular parent and child book, and possibly 101 Ways to Please Your Spouse. (I'll write one fast for you.)
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User is Offline Sam and Lady's Human
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10/06/2012 3:14 AM
Yeah I don't know about the H problem. I'm the "mean" one of the 2, so he is very little help in discipline. I've gotten him a couple parenting books he didn't ever read. But I do look up most situations online, theres a couple parenting forums that I read a lot, and those help make me feel not alone with something and get tips on how to deal from people with experience (of course, you have to filter everything, obviously not ever method will work for every kid). Ooh and a book I liked was "raising a spirited child" It was easy to read, and really gave me a lot of tools to deal with my spirited kiddos

User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/08/2012 8:43 AM
Thank you Rabbit Pam, Haha...I'd have to get him the book on cd cause he doesn't read...Won't even read the manual to his new camera..

I have read some books on Parenting...actually I've only checked out a few novels and the rest were non-fiction... So maybe I'll looks for that one. Thank you!

User is Offline tanlover14
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10/08/2012 11:16 AM
LongHairedMike --- LMAAAAOOOOO. I just pretty much died laughing from that comment.

I don't have kids -- but is this whole making the women be mean to the "kids" a whole guy thing? Because my boyfriend is SUCHHH a softy with the buns... I have to do all the holding for every administration we do because he freaks out -- when we do their nails and they're kicking around (not with hind legs of course, but rather attempting to get there way free) he's always yelling to let go and I'm like NOOOO. It's more stressful if you have to catch them 80 times just to do it -- the next time I catch him he's STILL gonna hate it so by gosh, JUST SHUT UP AND TRIM THE NAILS WHILE I HOLD! Hahahah. Luckily I figured out the hand over their eyes trick which makes it SOOOO much easier.
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User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/09/2012 10:25 AM
I do see a pattern, Tanlover lol

User is Offline Stickerbunny
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10/09/2012 10:49 AM
lol yeah Tanlover, my boyfriend took some training too - he is too scared to trim, so he holds, but first few times he always let them go cause he was scared he'd hurt them. o.O And when it's the birds bed time if the birds being a brat and doesn't feel like going to bed (even though he's cranky / tired / falling asleep on me) the boyfriend is always like "Just let him stay up" so I have to be the mean one and force the birdy into his sleep cage. Can't imagine how he'd be with actual kids.

User is Offline SirThumpsey
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10/09/2012 11:01 AM
Off topic i know but...the bird has a special sleep cage?

User is Offline tanlover14
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10/09/2012 3:05 PM
Stickerbunny -- Glad I'm not the only one with this problem! I SWEAR -- every time I have to pick them up (for either their own safety) or move them out of the way quickly he has like a mini-heart attack. I can't even imagine him with kids either!

And the bird with the sleeping cage -- hahahah, that's cute!
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User is Offline Princess*Smudge
Canada
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10/27/2012 3:25 PM
Hi SirThumpsey,

I know this thread is from a little while ago but I haven't been on in a month or so. We had a very similar problem with my (much younger) brother around that age. We had 2 guinea pigs and an adult cat at the time and he struggled with the exact same problems, especially with the cat. He would pull the tail, legs, try to pick him up by the neck, even run up to him when he was sleeping and kick or stomp on him and then laugh. The two pigs were mine and my sister's, so when we had them out he would of course want to see which led to grabbing, poking, prodding, hitting even when we were supervising. It can be so frustrating because they are so quick and just like you said we would try "redirecting" and get no response. It took a long time, and we used the steps most people have said, especially the "two-finger petting" and only being allowed to interact when he was sitting on a couch or the floor and we handled the animal.

One thing that helped immensely was having him interact with the piggies or the cat in a non-contact way as a way of showing him how much fun he could have if he was being good. He really wanted to feel like a big boy and so we would let him sit on the carpet and put a piece of veg down in front of the piggies nose without touching them but he thought it was amazing when the gobbled it up. He also loved helping with the feeding/care (supervised of course) by putting the pellets in the bowl or something like that. But the rule was there was no touching or petting when the piggies ate. Maybe this would help with your bun? Our cat was trickier because of course he had the run of the house and it's hard to keep them separated all the time. We had to enforce a no touching unless there is an adult with you rule (easier said then done of course... there were a lot of time outs), but we got him one of those cat toys with a long handle and a feather/toy mouse/ball on the end of a string. My brother would sit on the couch and play with the cat with this toy while it was on the floor and it kept him giggling forever. It helped us to show him good ways to interact with the pets that also made everyone less worried that someone (animal or child) was going to get hurt by accident. I hope you are feeling less stressed lately. I don't have kids but 2 brothers under the age of 10 that love getting in trouble. If it makes you feel any better the little brother described above is now an animal loving 9 year old who teaches his little cousins the best ways to play with his new kitten

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