Social Stories for Hitting Animals

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

Though seeing children hit animals can be a very disturbing experience for adults, it is often a sign that the child is experiencing stress or duress. This lesson offers social stories to help children stop themselves from hitting animals.

Social Stories and Animal Treatment

Sometimes, children who struggle with verbal expression or emotional regulation enact their feelings in deeply problematic ways, such as by mistreating animals. Social stories can help these children by offering scripted language, explicit concept development, and strategies for helping children master the emotions that lead to such behavior. The social stories in this lesson are oriented explicitly toward children who have been hitting animals.

Hitting Animals Out of Anger

I like to play with people, and sometimes I like to play with animals, too. Some of the animals I love best are dogs and cats. We have a dog in our house, and our neighbors have two cats. The dogs and cats are funny, and sometimes they are fun to pet and cuddle with. My dog is really soft and friendly.

Sometimes, the animals make me angry. The animals make me angry if they do not want to cuddle or play with me. They make me angry when they do not obey what I tell them to do. Sometimes, people make me angry when the animals are close by. People make me angry when they tell me what to do. People make me angry when they do not listen to what I want.

When I get angry, I start to feel really hot on the inside. I feel my face turning red, and I feel a bubbly feeling in my stomach. Being angry makes me feel really powerful and strong, like I want to hit something. When I get really angry and animals are near, I want to hit those animals.

Hitting animals is never okay. Hitting animals hurts their bodies, and it hurts their hearts, too. Hitting animals can also be dangerous. If I feel myself getting angry near an animal, it is my job to stop myself from hitting them. I should take a deep breath and count to ten. I should walk away from the animal. It helps to find something safe to hit, like a pillow or a punching bag. I say to myself, 'Keep the animals safe. Keep myself safe.' I find a person and tell them how I feel by saying, 'I feel really angry right now!' I am proud of myself for not taking my anger out on the animals.

Hitting Animals Out of Fear or Confusion

We have many animals in my neighborhood. Some of my neighbors have dogs and cats. Some of my friends also have bunnies, hamsters, and even a snake! Animals are fun and funny. Animals are really new to me. We do not have animals in my house, so I do not always know what to expect from them.

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