Learning to Respect Pets

Dear Sara,

I have a problem that is very distressing to me. My six year old son can be extremely cruel to animals. I have seen him kick a dog out of his way and sling a cat around by its tail. I am very tender hearted and have tried to tell him that this is really wrong but it doesn’t sink in. He wants a pet but as long as I see things like this the answer will be “no.” How can I get across to him that this is wrong?
-Leigh Ann

Dear Leigh Ann,

It sounds like there have been more than the two incidents that you have mentioned. If this is true then your son could have a mental health issue that would need to be dealt with by a psychiatrist.

If there were no other incidents then he could be a typical six year old who hasn’t developed the ability to feel sympathetic toward other living creatures. If he really wants a pet you might take him to see animals from the humane society in your area who need a good home. If he can find a pet to love then maybe he will feel empathy for other animals.

Let him know that if he abuses his new pet that you will take it away. Continue to let him know that pets can feel pain the same way he does. I hope that you can help him feel empathy for his new pet and other animals.

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