There can be several benefits for children who learn to care for a pet such as the child’s ability to nurture and develop meaningful relationships, learning a deep sense of responsibility and protectiveness, and being able to sense what others are feeling to name a few. That said, there are also several factors you should consider before bringing home a family pet like your child’s personality, age and maturity level, family dynamics, and how much you, as the adult, will be participating in the pet’s care.
1. Don’t allow your child to hit a pet with their hand or with any other object. And along the same vein; don’t allow your child to pull tails, legs, or poke eyes.
2. Teach children to detect signs of injury or illness in pet. When they do realize that a pet is hurting, they shouldn’t approach the animal themselves; they should immediately find an adult.
3. Make sure your pet receives a lot of love and attention.
4. This one is for the parents… don’t give your child too much responsibility too soon.
5. Teach your child how to read your pet’s body language.
6. Leave the pet alone when they are resting or eating.
7. Avoid threatening your child that you will give away their pet when they fail to properly take care of him or her. Give your child appropriate consequences when they don’t take care of their pet.
8. Slowly extend a hand “for smelling” when greeting a pet and teach your child to always ask permission from the owner when meeting another pet.
The first months of teaching your child responsible pet ownership will definitely take a lot of hard work, but we feel that in the end, the love of a furry friend brings out the best in us all.