When you have dogs and kids, you develop some interesting dynamics. For example, the dogs frequently (and accidentally) knock them over. They (the dogs) are also always trying to steal food out of their hands. Of course, we discipline the dogs. However, it seems as though the kids translate us saying "No!" into "Go hit the dog!"
In order to combat this tendency, we introduced the concept of being "gentle". We tell the kids to be gentle, and follow this up by showing them what being gentle is: we pet the dog.
It’s worked well with the dogs. When we say "be gentle", C says "ohhhh" very softly and pets the dogs. Even N now says "oohhh" and reaches his hand out as if he were going to pet them.
The problem now is that they’ve translated this into other situations. If C is getting rough with another child, we’ll say "be gentle!" – and he’ll stop what he’s doing and try to pet the other child.
From a social standpoint, this doesn’t go over very well. Especially so because he gets upset when the other kid runs away from his petting.
N, however, has his own take. We rarely have to say "be gentle" to him with other kids. When we do, however, he pets his own arm.
Yes, that’s what I said. He holds one arm tight across his middle and pets it with the other arm.
What’s even more bizarre is that sometimes you’ll see him in a social situation and suddenly he’ll say "ohhhh" and start petting his own arm. My only guess is that he just had a violent impulse and self corrected.
Of the two, I don’t know which would be more unnerving: having someone try to pet you, or watching someone suddenly start petting their own arm.