Teaching children the responsibility of caring for pets – Part 14

Few things bring more happiness to a child’s life than a pet, and everybody knows that with a pet comes a lot of responsibility. However, when the pet belongs to a child, much of the responsibility falls on the shoulders of the parent. One has to know how to take care of the animal so they can teach the child.

Teaching a child how to care for their pet(s) doesn’t have to be difficult. Children love animals, and are more apt to do pet-related chores than other things like taking out the trash or cleaning their room.

I think that one of the most important aspects of enabling kids to care for pets is ensuring that they are capable of doing so before you actually have the animal. This is especially necessary with small, delicate animals like fish and reptiles. Things like the classic goldfish bowl scenario can be disastrous. Always research before buying. Another way to make sure the child is ready is to give them first-hand experience. One way to do this is to borrow a friend’s pet for a few days and let the child care for it. Alternatively, they can be given a set of tasks to do on a daily basis that perhaps resemble those involved with caring for a pet. For example, leave a surprise (fake of course) on the floor for them to clean up. This will help the child get in the habit of doing certain things every day. You can observe them while they do this, and decide based on your observations whether or not they are really prepared for a pet of their own.

Once you already have the pet, reward and punishment can be applied. If your child is doing something that is harmful to the pet, or neglecting it, let them know it. The child most likely cares a lot about his or her pet, and will tend to stop doing things that they know will hurt it.

For example, “(Name), please feed the dog. You don’t want him to be hungry, do you?”

Please note that this is less likely to work if the child is near or above thirteen years of age. Most teenagers hear, but very few actually listen. If the child does a good job caring for their pet(s), the reward will be the enjoyment they receive from having a happy and healthy companion, which is what it’s all about.

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