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Parenting Issues Message Board

Parenting Issues Board Index

do children really have empathy for others at age 3? can he possible understand that other beings have feelings like he does? my son went through a stage of being mean to the cat (like, REALLY mean, hitting, kicking, screaming at her) when he was three, and was constantly testing me as well. he just didn't get the cat, didn't understand that she has feelings like he does, and was finding that he understood other things, and wanted to see how far he could go. timeouts didn't work for him, but a firm swat on the backside would often get his attention, then i would explain what he was doing, why i wanted it to stop and what the consequences would be should he continue. he wasn't allowed to touch the cat for months, now they're the best of friends. we had to teach him empathy, he did not come hardwired for it. he also hated sleeping and would absolutely fight it, sometimes waking up in the middle of the night, although he would cry, not play. turns out, he's just a very bright kid, his mind is "on" all the time, always questioning, always wondering, always thinking, and he can sometimes have trouble turning it off to rest. problem is, when a child is so young they cannot articulate what the problem is. play therapy is a wonderful idea, and extremely effective, for young children especially. this boy really needs his parents, and their unconditional love, and it seems like you are giving him that. just make sure he's well supervised when he's at home, that way you can nip any misbehaving in the bud right away, and find a good therapist. i'm kinda against medicating kids, btw, but i have heard that sometimes it can be the difference for a normal life.

best of luck to you and your family. ali

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