Easing kids into having pets — a responsibility guide
Getting a pet can be a wonderful and formative experience in a child’s life. An animal can provide your child with years of companionship, help them learn responsibility and instill a love for animals that can last a lifetime. If your child is new to taking care of a pet, the transition could be challenging. After all, this is the first time where they’ll have to help take care of another living thing. To help them ease into this responsibility, follow the tips below.
Assign small chores that don’t involve the pet. If you don’t have a pet just yet, take this as an opportunity to help your child get in the mindset of having responsibilities. Little things, like helping to clean their room or clear the table after dinner, are simple chores that can turn into a habit with repetition. This will help your child understand that certain things need to be done consistently, which will prepare them for taking care of a pet.
Get a pet that will interest your child and be appropriate for them. Every kid has different preferences when it comes to animals, so be sure to keep them in mind while also being realistic about what your household can handle. While a snake probably isn’t such a great idea for a small child to take care of, they might enjoy taking care of a smaller, more manageable lizard instead. If furry creatures are more your child’s speed, consider a pocket pet such as a hamster or gerbil. If you have a cat or dog in mind, go to the local animal shelter and see which ones your child connects with the most.
Introduce and explain pet-related chores early on. As soon as your pet comes home for the first time (perhaps even before that) it is a good idea to review all of the tasks that will need to be done to keep the pet healthy. These tasks should be divided up amongst the family members, to demonstrate that the pet is a part of the family. Explain to your child which of these pet chores they will be expected to do on their own, and which ones they will need supervision for. Rotate the responsibility of the chores regularly, so that your children understand everything that goes into taking care of a pet. As they get older, they can take on more and more responsibilities, and do more of them without supervision.
Praise and reward good practices. When your child completes his or her pet chores without being asked, be sure to let them know that you appreciate it. This doesn’t need to be anything more than verbal praise, but it should be genuine. Should your child have trouble with remembering to do these chores, or appears uninterested in the pet, it is then time for a conversation that delves into why that is, and how to get their excitement about the pet back.
Teaching Kids Responsibility with Pets [Momtastic]
Teach Kids Proper Pet Care [Parenting]