Featured Post: Teaching Your Children How to Care for Your Family Pet

A couple of years ago we decided to get a family cat, it was one of the best family decisions we have made. The cat has enabled us to introduce looking after pets and given the children something to do and focus on when they feel stressed.

If you are planning to complete your family with a pet then the first thing you need to do is decide which one would be best for you and your current circumstances. You want your children to have an active role, so make sure you keep them in mind when making your decision.

Consider the age of your child and to what extent they will be able to help, as well as how much time and money you have and where you live.

Pets can teach children a lot as they grow up, but depending on the answers to the above questions, you may be better off adding a goldfish or hamster rather than a cat or a dog – for now. If you are in a position to get a four-legged friend with a wagging tail, then think carefully about which breed would best suit your family – perhaps you should be looking at french bulldog puppies as opposed to a border collie, for example.

Once you have chosen the pet for you and your children and introduced it into the family, you need to teach them how to care for it. So, first things first…

Talk to them…

Before you do anything else it is important to sit your children down and explain to them what having a pet will entail – why it is so important to care for them properly and what this will involve. Talk them through what a typical day might involve depending on the pet you get – what their needs will be and how you (and they) can and will fulfil them. Make sure they understand they must help with this and why.

Allow them to ask questions…

You will probably find that they have a lot of questions and it is best to answer as many as you can now. Maybe encourage them to make a few notes so they don’t forget anything important.

Walk them through it…

At first you should make sure you are completing all the day-to-day tasks with your child. If you have gone for a hamster, sit together and get him or her out to have a run in the ball, clean out the cage, fill up the food bowl, water and so on.
If you have a dog then go out for a walk and make the dinner together – ensuring you include ample time for play and teaching them new skills.

Start off simple…

Once you have done this together for a while you may start to give them jobs that they can do for themselves. Start off simple; perhaps with the hamster it is their job to fill up the food bowl, or with the dog then maybe this could be the water bowl. Understand that they may make some mistakes. If they do ensure you sit down and explain why they have and what they need to do to make sure they don’t do it again.

Create a chart of chores…

A chart that includes everything your pet needs in a day will help your child to remember. It will also ensure your pet doesn’t miss a meal because you have left it to your little one to do the feeding! Split the tasks up between you and the kids – maybe alternate the one they are in charge of. Encourage them to cross off the task when complete and then if you see it doesn’t have a cross you can check whether this is because they forgot or haven’t done it.

Of course, their level of involvement with the pet will be dependent on their age and the animal that you have. But the older they get the more involvement they can have and the more they will learn.

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