Pets are the perfect way to teach your children about responsibilities. All kids love to have a pet of their own, but to make them actually take care of that pet, feed it or clean after it is a little harder. The secret is to get a pet that is appropriate for your kids age. A 4 year old wont be able to take care of a large dog, but he or she will do better around a guinea pig or a turtle. The right age for entrusting some pet responsibilities for kids is around 4 years of age.
If you already have a family pet, your kid may already be familiar with all the pet related routines: feeding it, walking it, cleaning after it and so on. The next step is to explain to the child that one of those jobs is now their responsibility. Make sure you pick something that your kid can actually do without any danger. Making a small kid clean the cats tray, for example, is pretty dangerous. Children put their fingers inside the mouths or in their eyes a lot, so this is probably a better job for an older child. You should let them deal with risk free responsibilities, such as giving fresh water to your familys pet every day.
The responsibilities can grow with the child. Little by little, you can let your child feed the pet and walk it. Having pets is a great way to make kids not only more responsible, but also empathic to the needs of the others. By nature, kids are pretty selfish, so taking the time to take care of a pet will have a great influence on their personality. You can ask, for example, for your child to pay attention to the pets mood and to let you know if the pet seems sad or sick, so the two of you can take it to the vet. This exercise will teach your child a very important lesson to be sympathetic with other peoples needs and feelings.
For older kids, who want to get their own pet, its extremely important to discuss his or her responsibilities, before actually getting the pet. Explain to your kid that a pet is not a toy, and it has to be fed and cleaned after on daily basis. More importantly, make sure your child understands that a pet needs attention and the pet cant be ignored just because he or she is tired or in a bad mood. If your child is older than six, you should allow them to pick their own pet, whether its a dog, a cat or a turtle. But, before the trip to the pet shop, you should take a trip to your local library or bookstore to get a book about that particular pet for your child. Ask your child to read the book and talk to him about the information from the book. Make sure that the children understand all the new pet responsibilities they will have. If your child wants a dog, explain to him that a dog needs to be fed twice a day, have clean water, get daily walks and receive a lot of attention.
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