You’ve finally gotten that family pet that you and your children have always wanted. A pet can be a wonderful experience for children, teaching them about responsibility, love and how to care for another living thing. But it can take some work from you to teach children how to care for pets.
You may want to make a pet care chart in order to keep track of your child’s responsibilities.
- Talk to your child about their responsibilities regarding the pet. Decide with your child what your child’s chores will be when caring for the pet. Be willing to negotiate and compromise. Perhaps you will take care of cleaning up after the pet, if your children take care of feeding and watering the pet.
- Make sure your children’s chores are age appropriate. A 5-year-old child may be able to help you clean a hamster cage, but they won’t be able to do it on their own.
- Make up a pet care chart that clearly explains your child’s chores. Whenever your children take care of a chore, check off a box or put a sticker on the chore chart. Give them a prize, such as a movie out or a pizza night whenever they get a certain amount of stickers or checks.
- Teach children the benefits of having pets. Not only should they have the responsibilities associated with pets, but they should have the joys too. Teach young children how to pet dogs and cats and show them how to hold smaller animals such as guinea pigs and hamsters. Teach children to be gentle around the pet so your pet doesn’t fear your child. Allow children to feed, train, give treats and play with the pets so your pets become bonded to the children and not only to you.
- Expect to remind your children of their responsibilities in caring for the pet. In a perfect world, you would not have to remind your children over and over again to do their chores, but children need the repetition. Expect to have to remind them, but don’t expect to have to do the chore yourself, unless your children are very young.
Tips & Warnings
A pet that has gone through some training will be easier for your child to care for.
If a pet becomes aggressive with a child, separate your child from the pet.