no tail

We have generally had a well-behaved Baby Genius, despite some occasional minor tantrums and a general getting into things. He is a good boy, or “goy!” if you ask him, and we like that about him. Part of that is probably simply that we’re pretty laid back about what he can play with so long as he can’t hurt himself or anyone else.

Unfortunately, that hurting of others has become a problem lately. BG loves our cats so much that he can hardly contain himself when they are around. If one of them is up on the sofa, he’ll come along and lay his head on the cat, saying, “Awwwww! Awwwww!” While we have been working on the finer art of petting for some time, he still just sort of places his hands on the cats and pushes. It looks like his variation on rolfing–something that might be therapeutic but not exactly soothing or comfortable. And when this is all he does, everyone is fine. The cats tolerate him. Our old lady cat, Cleo, even purrs and loves him back.

But sometimes our son gets overstimulated with the cats. Sometimes, he gets so excited about them, that he can’t help but grab onto their tails with both hands and pull with all his might. Typically, this happens when the mom watching him is out of the room, and we hear a cat under extreme duress.

These episodes have resulted in BG’s very first time outs. They just haven’t been necessary until now, but now we’re putting him in time-out sometimes three or four times a day. Of course, these moments are appropriately brief. We place him in his crib in his room, repeat “No tail, BG! No tail!” and then close the door to his room. Sometimes he cries his way through the time-out, and sometimes he stands in his crib and giggles or babbles the entire time.

When we go back in to retrieve him after a minute or two, though, we always ask, “BG, why are you here?” He looks up at us with his big blue eyes, and requests, “Up!” So we ask again, “Why are you here? Why did Mommy/Mama put you here?” And usually after three or four times, he replies, “Tail.”

So he knows why he’s there, and I honestly think he even understands that what he is doing is wrong (I mostly think this because he has been known to go pull a tail in retaliation for not getting something he wanted). But he keeps doing it. The cats have gotten to a point now that they are fairly scared of him and run when they see him coming. Maybe this is best. Maybe it’s best that he has no contact with them at all for awhile until he can control this crazed urge to pull, pull, pull. I don’t know, and J and I are at a bit of a loss. We want the gentle, sweet, loving side of our son to prevail, and to see this side emerge is admittedly a little scary. Is it paranoid that I wonder if this is pre-serial killer behavior?

Worries aside, we have to get him to stop, so once again, readers, I ask for your infinite wisdom. What would you do/have you done about kids pulling tails? How do we get him to stop–short of wrapping the cats’ tails in barbed wire?

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9 Comments

Filed under advice, Baby Genius, behavior

9 responses to “no tail

  1. I have had to remind myself many times over that toddlers lack self control. Even though they know it’s wrong, they just can’t resist. Curly loves our dog, and our dog is very gentle with him, such that he tries to take advantage of it and lean on her or give her a smack just because he can. It’s especially bothersome because she’s so little. Apart from disclipline and time-outs, I’m not sure what else you (or we) can do. Our dog has a little bed in the living room and we tell him that whenever she is in her bed, he cannot touch her. We will always warn him if it looks like he’s heading for her bed. Is there a place your cats go where they can always be “safe”? Of course, that doesn’t help when they’re just walking around and he wants to grab their tails. Yeah, I’m really at a loss 😦 Wouldn’t worry about it being serial killer behavior though 🙂

  2. Well holy shit, ladies. Sounds like your landlord is sort of the last place variety if you ask me. Who can consciously do such a thing? Granted, you are going to have some field mice, moles, hell even some snakes being further out in a rural/farming area, but a RAT?? And she doesn’t even care about it? *shudders* Is there any way you can put the washer/dryer in the house? Back porch? basement? IDK. Somewhere better than a rat infested garage, surely. Maybe she will pay for that? I know that in our lease, it specifically states that we cannot withold rent as a means of getting things done around the house…but maybe (hopefully!) your lease reads differently? It says a lot that there are STILL rat droppings when you have hunting cats….yowza. So sorry that the dreams of living in this new place are taking a beating. Glad to hear you are giving the same ideas some reconsideration and hoping that the peas and tomatoes take off and grow beautifully!!! 🙂

    PS is that the kitchen under the mirror? Do you think it’s possible that the mirror covers up what was once an overhead type of pass-through cupboard? IDK. Hang in there!!!!!!

  3. I kind of think it could be a phase. Stay consistent and I bet he will get over it (and move on to the next thing, of course!)

  4. c storm

    I don’t have the answer, but we’re in the middle of the same thing. My first was the same way and is now a fabulous young adult, crazy for learning and reasonably mannered. It’s not precursor to psychopathology. It’s just toddlerhood. We’ve gone with letting the cats know that we will aid them in running like hell. We remind Little Trucker that until she develops personal control the objects of her heart’s desire will flee her clutches…(and then she gives us this appraising stare and – I swear to god – she raises an eyebrow at us).

  5. BG is older so I look to your for the answers!

    I am sure that BG will get over the tail and move onto something new. Tails are pretty tempting. I pull the cats tail once and a while myself. Hmmm so maybe I never moved onto something else, but learned to do it in a way that the cat tolerates it. Oh gosh. This is sounding more serious than I initially thought. Maybe it is the beginning of a lifelong problem. I must stop bugging the cat. I must stop bugging the cat….

  6. Jen

    We have the same issues. We have a book that is called “Tails are not for pulling” and we have been reading it to chunk. So if he pulls, we say forcefully, tails are not for pulling and we do time out as well. My other suggestion is to move timeout from his crib. He needs to understand that he is in trouble and not just a little independent play time. For what it’s worth, we sit on the floor and put him in our lap and do not let him move for a minute. Most of the time he does cry but he understands time out now. Our other
    method is to sit him on a chair or the couch and sit in front of him for a minute, no talking or eye contact. BG is a smart boy and it may take some more rigid discipline to get it across. Maybe? Good luck! But toddler boys will be toddler boys!

  7. A.

    No serial killer behavior there….we’re dealing with it too. O. gets SOEXCITED to pet the cats, and he ends up hitting them, either with his fist or with a toy. We’re just trying to be consistent.

    I’m confident that BG will turn the corner soon. 🙂

  8. G

    Muffin does the same thing with our dogs. He pulls their tails, hits them, pulls their fur, lays on them, and runs his ride-ons into them. I also thought that it might be cause for concern with future behavior but then started looking at all the other little ones I know and have known and most if not all have gone through a phase like this. As he’s gotten older (he’s the same age as BG) he’s gotten better. We have started giving him “timeouts” which is just putting him somewhere else to let him get distracted. If he’s ramming something into them or hitting them with something we say “uh-oh”. Sometimes he’ll try to correct himself as we say “uh-oh” but we still take the item away anyway. Eventually we figure he’ll grow out of it.

    As far as your landlord goes. What a jerk! It seems as though she didn’t even have it ready for you to move in to. If you spent your own funds cleaning up after the other tenants vacated the property you should be able to talk to her about deducting that from your next months rent (or over a period of time). I would check out what your state allows landlords to get away with and what your lease says about withholding rent. My partner and I own two rentals and it would never occur to us to have the new tenants clean up the old tenants mess. That’s our responsibility. Bug her until she fixes the things that need to be fixed.

    Also, as far as that mirror goes, can you take it down and “improve” that area? You probably wouldn’t be able to recoup any money you spend on the improvement but she probably wouldn’t charge you either (if it’s an improvement), but of course check your lease first.

  9. poppycat

    For what it’s worth, my nannys son who just turned 2 is doing the same thing to my animals suddenly. He seemed to be fine with the dog and cat until recently and now he abuses them repeatedly during the day. I guess it must just be the age and I have hopes that it will pass soon… The animals hope so too. Good luck! Let us know if you find something that works.

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