If you have a pet and are expecting a baby, chances are you’ve discussed what to do if your dog or cat gets jealous of your new addition, but We don’t always consider the reverse: As your child grows you grow. Maybe your pet is perfectly fine with the family structure, but your toddler or child gets jealous when you talk about the dog. If you’ve ever noticed that your child is jealous of your dog or cat, experts say why it happens and what you can do about it. Life would be so much easier (and sweeter) if he JBe best friends already..
My son Cooper is almost 3, and for most of his second year, he was a two-legged terror to our dog, Zelda. It seemed that whenever I wasn’t giving my son my undivided attention, he would slap or yell at the dog to get my attention. If I had to stop playing with him to feed him or leave him to pee, it caused tantrums. He would overreact to anything she did – she once walked past him without touching him, and he fell to the floor screaming, “My back!” It never occurred to me that he would be jealous of the attention we gave the dog until he approached me one day for a pet and said, “No, my mom!”
When I started searching, I realized that I First there were no parents. to observe Toddler vs. Puppy Jealousy Dynamic When I mentioned this at work, a colleague said that her 10- and 13-year-olds also showed some jealousy when they brought home a new puppy. So, what gives? And how do you keep everyone in the family (pets and humans) happy?
What is the cause of jealousy in a child?
Whether it’s your pet, your partner, or a sibling, anything you pay attention to is going to catch your baby’s eye—and it feels like competition. Experts say this is actually kind of expected.
“That’s normal for him. Children feel somewhat jealous When the focus isn’t on them,” he says Dr. Dan Marullo, Ph.D., Children’s Alabama Child Psychiatrist. “It could be because of a new pet, a new brother or sister, or because mom or dad is busy. The problem then is not whether the child is jealous, but to teach him that this emotion is healthy. How to handle it properly.
Feeling jealous Not unique to young children, says Marolo. “Everyone is susceptible to feeling jealous. Older children, teenagers, and adults can feel jealous if they feel their emotional needs are not being met. Cognition can play a big factor here—a The person may get as much attention as usual, but not feel like they’re getting the attention they need. Again, reassurance and teaching how to manage emotions are key.
This strange attention economy can affect even families who are more experienced with animals. Eli Lakesanimal communicator and founder The Gentle BarnAn animal rescue and rehabilitation nonprofit says her son began to resent the dogs, cats and other animals she had to care for every day as a toddler. She couldn’t take care of him and them at the same time so she hired babysitters, but from her son’s perspective, she was leaving him with others so she could spend time with the animals. could When her little girl started pulling ears and tails on dogs, she knew she had to do something. To keep everyone safe.
“I obviously wasn’t going to get rid of my animals. They were family as they were. But I had to come up with a plan to balance and make both my animals and my son happy,” she says.
How do you build good relationships between children and pets?
If you think your child is jealous of your pet, it will take some time and dedication, but you can fix it. Marlow suggests:
- Making sure you spend special time with your baby that has your undivided attention. It can be as short as five or 10 minutes.
- Reassure the child of their importance in the family, but remind them that pets deserve attention too.
- Allow the child to participate in the care of your pet as the child ages. This may mean feeding, watering, bathing or cleaning the cat’s box. Marolo added that this helps the child learn empathy, caring and responsibility, which builds self-esteem.
- Stay the course. Allow your child and pet time to work through this step. Monitor and redirect as needed, Marolo says, but let them be friends—jealousy is just part of the process.
Hiring a trainer to help teach your dog new commands can also help, Lux says. A dog that understands things like “sit,” “stay,” and “place” can help you space your baby and dog when needed.
Lux has an additional tip, which made a huge difference for my son when I tried it: “There were times when my kids were really young where I would tell my dogs, ‘Okay, it’s time. I want you to go out in the yard. And play with each other because now I’m going to focus on my baby,” she says. After about a week of that — telling her dog in front of her son that it’s ” Cooper and Mama time,” then allowing him to play outside and giving him my undivided attention for that period – the jealousy seemed to basically go away.
Of course, unless your pets and children are on good terms, this is best. Monitor their interactions closely. And when you can’t, keep them separate. Not only can a pet be harmed by a small child’s slaps, but animal bites or scratches can also seriously injure children. Although it’s frustrating to constantly change everyone in your household, remind yourself that you won’t have to play referee forever, Lux says.
“It was a lot of pressure and a lot of work, but I had to keep reminding myself that he’s going to get old. It’s not mine forever,” says Lex. “I think a lot of people dump their dogs in shelters because it becomes so difficult to referee between children and animals that they don’t want to deal with them. Get the help you need, they Get the resources you need to set everyone up for success so the dog doesn’t have to be rehomed, and the baby feels fulfilled.
Dr. Dan Marullo, Ph.D., Child psychologist at Children’s of Alabama
Eli Lakesanimal communicator and founder of The Gentle Barn, a non-profit animal rescue and rehabilitation organization
(Translation of tags) Toddler