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Public Enemy No. 1

HAVE YOU SEEN THIS TODDLER?!

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He’s about three feet tall, weighs about 30 lbs.  Has unruly dark blonde hair, blue-green eyes.  Chubby, fast  hands.  Ankle sock suntan lines and likely has one hand wedged down the back of his shorts.

He’s wanted for the reckless taunting and torture of household pets.  

If you see the suspect, please do not approach him!  He’s armed with a mouthful of teeth and a devil may care attitude.

All joking aside, he’s making me NUTS!

He just will NOT leave the pets alone.

And I’m not just talking about the typical curious kid stuff – like trying to touch the dog’s eyeball.  Or maybe petting a cat in a less than gentle fashion.

He’s really become a bit of a terror.

Especially when he’s tired or frustrated.

And I’m not sure how to correct him?

Take yesterday for example:

We had a lovely time at the B&O Railroad Museum.  If you are a Baltimore parent, you might consider a membership.  They have a huge facility spanning indoors and out.  Almost the entire place is completely kid-friendly.  There’s climate control.  The staff is wonderful.  Parking is close to the facility and free.  

Anyway, we went to the Museum and Mac was the MODEL two-year old.  He patiently endured my 3 trips to the loo.  He played nicely with other children.  He listened to nearly everything I said and followed directions like a pro.  I praised him lavishly.  He deserved it.

Then of course, we came home. . .

And he was exhausted.

And while I always believed an exhausted child was a well-behaved child, perhaps maybe a tired child is a well-behaved child and an exhausted child is something akin to a raging psychopath with sometimes violent tendencies?

So after we had lunch, we started our little pre-sleep routine.  Fresh diaper.  Fresh clothes.  Lots of books.  Except, today he wasn’t really into the books.  He wanted me to read but while I was reading he wanted to chase the dog around and touch his feet.

We have a very gentle and patient dog.  But the dog isn’t a fan of having his feet touched and grabbed by a toddler.  I get it, Dog.  I get it.

So after the dog attempted to flee several times (which is very difficult in a rowhouse with a mainly open concept and about 6 baby gates, he finally gave Mac a good growl.

And I gave Mac an ineffective time out and a brief explanation of why you shouldn’t bother animals.  Any animal.  Ever.

But as soon as time out ended he hopped right off my lap and sprinted towards the dog.

This time, I warned Mac the consequence was immediate nap time.  He’d have to go to his crib if he couldn’t treat the dog nicely.

Guess what?  He couldn’t treat the dog nicely.  Bet you didn’t see that coming! 

So I tried to be unemotional while I carried him upstairs and placed him in his crib.  (It was 1:30. . .a tad on the early side for nap these days).

Cue the rage.

Oh the rage!!!!!

I snuck downstairs with the baby monitor.  Not that I needed it.  I’m certain the screaming was audible two blocks away.

I knew he had to tough it out for 2 minutes at least. . .because this was a punishment of sorts.

And of course, my mind was racing about whether using the crib as a consequence was going to create some kinda’ sleep problem?  Jesus, I needed to minor in under-grad level phsychology just to get through the toddler years!

Of course, removing the dog to the yard or elsewhere was an option – but it’s not a long term fix.  So I was trying to avoid it.  Plus, the dog wasn’t at fault.  And we try to be consistent with his “training” too.

Instead, I decided we’d go into the new bedroom and read in there.  The dog could remain on the main floor and Mac and I could make amends before nap.

Things were going pretty well until Mac raced to the top of the stairs saying, “Get some milk?”

Really?  REALLY?

I suspected a stalling tactic but we went downstairs for some milk anyway.

I handed Mac the milk, turned my back to place the container back in the fridge and when I turned around again, I saw Mac stomping on the dog’s tail.  (To the dog’s credit, he was lying there taking it like a champ).

And this time, I got a little emotional.  Ooops.

“Mac!” I exclaimed loudly.  “Why are you stepping on Tilghman?!  Didn’t we just talk about how that’s not nice and DANGEROUS!”

He shrugged, sippy cup dangling from his teeth.

Why I oughta. . .

After he had his sips of milk, we did have nap time.  And no pets or children were harmed. . .

But before bedtime, I had to remind him chasing the cat was WRONG.  And give him ANOTHER time out.

Now, I’m certain this is a phase.  And I can tell the trigger is often exhaustion or frustration but so far, I’m not having much luck correcting the behavior.

Do I stay the course and keep doling out the time outs and explanations?

(Because as much as I try, I can’t completely remove triggers of frustration and exhaustion from is life.  He has to learn how to effectively manage them.)

Do I try more concrete rewards for desired behavior? (I’m hesitant to go that route because I don’t really believe he should get a major award for EXPECTED behaviors.  If he went above and beyond that would be a different situation.)

We already have Mac help us with giving out pet treats and food so he is helping with certain aspects of caring for the pets.

I’m wondering if perhaps a “chart” might help?  Chris made him some learn lists with pictures of birds on them, and Mac LOVES to review the birds with Chris every evening.  I’m wondering if I made a list with pictures of a few simple desired behaviors (hugging the dog, putting shoes away, brushing teeth etc) that he could review with Chris along with the birds might be a fun way to keep him on track?

THOUGHTS?  Anyone?

6 Responses to “Public Enemy No. 1”

  1. Oh man, I am SO glad I don’t have the added responsibility of pet safety on my plate. I have a hard enough time getting the youngest not to hit her SISTERS and I try to carry that lesson over onto the stuffed animals. “Awww, don’t hit poor Booey, that’s not nice, we only pet our animals, niiiiice, niiiiiiiiiiice”
    Someone’s going to the asylum, and I’m not sure who!

    Good luck Warrior Mom – you can do this!
    The Next Step recently posted…How a 9 year old turned a gallon of lemonade into homes for orphansMy Profile

    • admin says:

      Thanks! Pets are great but now that I have a toddler, I completely get why folks would choose not to have any. 🙂 I like the idea of using stuffed animals to show them how to treat others. I had better get a baby doll stat. I was holding our 6 month old nephew over the weekend and Mac attempted to take a swing at him. . .this can’t bode well for our new addition. Ha!

  2. Meredith says:

    Unfortunately, I can’t help, but I’m going to monitor these comments closely. My daughter is in the same phase. One minute she’ll be petting the dog nicely, the next she’s grabbing handfuls of fur and yanking. Or pulling his tail. Or hitting him. Or chasing him with a toy. The list goes on and on.

    I give her time out sessions and explain that she has to “be gentle” but she eventually resorts to torture tactics again. :: sigh ::

    • admin says:

      I’m sorry for your dog. . .and you but I feel better knowing my kid isn’t the only pet torturing toddler out there. We are still doling out lots of time outs – which don’t seem to be having the desired effects. Hopefully this passes quickly. I’m actually starting to feel bad for our obnoxious beasts. Ha!

  3. Shay says:

    But Deni, he’s SO STINKING CUTE!!!! 🙂
    Shay recently posted…Summertime Tips from Trashy BlogMy Profile

    • admin says:

      Thank you! I need to catch up on your blog. I’ve missed a couple of posts. I can’t wait! 🙂