Almost all kids have at one time or another bugged their parents for a pet puppy, kitten, bird, or fish. Some even ask for a pet dinosaur! If you have kids at home, chances are you’ve already been asked for a pet something a gazillion times. You’ve probably made the same requests when you were a lot younger, too.
Wanting pets and caring for them are two different things, though. A lot of kids think that it is fairly easy to do perhaps because of all the movies and shows they’ve watched. Taking care of pets is a huge responsibility. Adopting a pet is almost the same as adopting a baby or child. It is no joke.
A lot of things are involved in deciding to adopt a pet. You need to make sure you feed them well and take care of their veterinary needs. You also need to pet-proof your home to avoid accidents from happening to them. This might involve installing strong steel window well covers or protective fences around your property and other similar safety measures.
However, this shouldn’t discourage you from adding another member to your family, albeit a furry or scaly one. As a family, you can all contribute to caring for a pet, even your children.
Here are some tips for parents who want to teach their kids how to properly take care of pets around the house:
Tip #1: Get them involved in the selection or adoption process.
Children will often feel a deeper connection with pets they helped choose. It might be easier for parents to just bring home a pet they picked out themselves but getting the kids involved in the selection process gives them a greater sense of ownership and responsibility for it.
Tip #2: Empower them with education and information.
In most cases, when we’re trying out something new, it is very helpful to be well-informed about it so we can avoid messing up as much as possible. It’s pretty much the same with pet care. Kids need to learn valuable information on the basics of pet care and the specifics of raising a particular animal.
The more they know about it, the more confident they are in taking care of your pets. And the more confident they are about it, the more likely they will become good pet owners.
Tip #3: Teach them how to manage their time with their pets.
Whenever we have new pets, most of us can’t wait to smother them with hugs and kisses and give them all the attention they need and don’t want. However, as time goes by, the excitement goes away and we just go about our day without really spending enough time with our pets.
Parents should teach kids how to manage their time to include spending quality time with their pets. Whether it’s playing with them or just having them on their laps while they watch TV or play video games, kids should carve out time to spend with their pets daily.
Tip #4: Bring the kids along on trips to the vet.
On the days that your pet needs to go to the vet, bring the children along so they can share the experience with their pets, especially if they are the ones that pets know as their master. Bringing children to the vet also gives them the chance to ask the veterinarian how to take better care of their pets.
Tip #5: Give the kids age-appropriate responsibilities in taking care of your pets.
When assigning pet-related tasks to kids, parents should ensure that they assign tasks that are appropriate for a child’s age. For instance, it is unwise to ask four-year-olds to clean out the litter box as they still tend to put their hands in their mouths or rub their eyes. That is unhealthy and potentially harmful for them.
Give them tasks that they can easily manage; ones that challenge them but don’t overwhelm or endanger them.
Teaching children to take care of pets is a valuable lesson in responsibility.
Pets are perfect for teaching young kids how to be more responsible. Regardless of age and tasks, it teaches them empathy and compassion. It gives them a valuable lesson of caring for another living being; that if they neglect their duties, that living being could perish. So having a pet at home is a good idea in raising responsible and empathic children. A child that grows up with a greater sense of responsibility grows up feeling valued and with greater self-confidence.
Caring for pets is not to be taken lightly, and families with children should know that. It takes a lot of time, energy, and money to take care of pets but if you decide to add them to your family, everything is well worth it.