Why is this 10 year old acting like a cat?

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

A 10 yr. old female student constantly is making cat sounds at the other students. When I confront her she says her cat is her best friend and that they communicate (the cat knows her feelings). She will hiss, purr, etc. at the other kids which call her weird, crazy and she doesn’t seem to care.

A:  It can be very difficult to watch a child engage in behavior that causes them to be rejected by their peers. But often the behavior grows out of a desire for them to make a connection, but they simply do not know how. In psychodrama we have a saying: “The cure for acting out, is acting out.” Since her cat is her pride and joy perhaps set up a “show and tell” for the the class. All the children who have pets could bring in photographs and a pet toy would let her share her cherished companion, while letting her get involved with her classmates though that connection.

Of course if she continues to find ways to alienate herself from others a consultation with the school psychologist or guidance counselor would be in order.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 2 Mar 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). Why is this 10 year old acting like a cat?. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 21, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/03/02/why-is-this-10-year-old-acting-like-a-cat/