Thumbnail image of: Behavior Diary: Illustration

Mistreating Pets

Hurting Pets

  • The rule

    “Don’t hurt your pet, because animals feel pain and sadness just like people.” (Sometimes preschoolers are unduly rough with pets because they equate them with toys.)

  • Discipline technique

    Verbal disapproval followed by time-out.

  • Praise

    Praise your child for playing gently with a pet.

  • Model

    Treat animals gently.

Not Feeding Pets

  • The rule

    “Pets must be fed or they will starve.”

  • Discipline technique

    Give an “I” message, such as, “I really feel sorry for Charlie when you don’t feed him.” In addition, help your child come up with a reminder system, such as a small note on his mirror to help him remember to feed the pet. Sometimes delaying a privilege and linking it with the chore can be helpful (for example, “No dinner for you until Charlie’s been fed”).

  • Praise

    Praise your child for feeding the pet in a timely manner.

  • Model

    Feed your child in a timely manner.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2009-08-20
Last reviewed: 2014-06-10
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 Barton D. Schmitt, MD. All rights reserved.

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