How to stop your kid from terrorising the dog


By AGENCY

Repeatedly using words with toddlers in the form of lectures or warnings is a bad idea. Instead, calmly empathise by echoing a Calm Signal (this sound or word or phrase is meant to supplant swearing) and take action. Photo: TNS/Dreamstime

Dear Kid Whisperer,

I am writing for my dog and my child. My three-year-old abuses my Cocker Spaniel. I’m sad for my dog and worried for my kid. My dog doesn’t bite, but I think she might if pushed too far. My son’s specialty is hitting my dog with various objects. We have talked to him over and over, and the behaviour has not improved. What’s left?


Answer: Talking to toddlers about behaviour is like barking at dogs about geometry: Not a good use of time, and it doesn’t make sense.

Toddlers don’t listen to words. They do notice action. Repeatedly using words with toddlers in the form of lectures or warnings is a particularly terrible idea. Instead, calmly empathise by echoing a Calm Signal (this sound or word or phrase is meant to supplant swearing) and take action.

Here’s how I would do it:

Kid hits Dog with a toy.

Kid Whisperer: Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer firmly but gently pulls the toy out of Kid’s hand. It’s a good idea to gently stabilise the lower arm below the elbow with one hand before pulling the toy with the other, in order to not yank on the shoulder.) Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer takes the toy.) Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer puts the toy on a high shelf).

Kid totally freaks out, throwing himself on the floor.

Kid Whisperer: Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer walks away, sits in his favourite chair, and reads a newspaper.)

Kid does a surprisingly athletic burpee, runs at Kid Whisperer and tears away the newspaper.

Kid Whisperer: Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer picks up Kid.) Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer carries Kid to Kid’s room.) Yeesh. (Kid Whisperer gently puts kid down in the middle of the room.) Yeesh.

Kid Whisperer: Please come back as soon as you can be nice to me and to Mr Snugglepuss. I love you!

Kid Whisperer walks away, and if Kid comes back un-nice, Kid Whisperer presses the “Yeesh” repeat key. If he comes back nice, he regains full citizenship in the home and is entitled to all of the benefits of such citizenship. – Tribune News Service

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