How to Teach Responsibility to Your Child by Having Them Care for a New Pet

Having a family pet can be one of the most rewarding decisions you ever make. Pets act as great protectors and loving companions. Aside from that, pets offer the opportunity to teach your child responsibility and compassion. Of course, learning new responsibility is not always easy. If you are having trouble with your child caring for his/her pets, there are a few steps that you can take to help your child understand the importance of caring for his/her responsibilities.

Firstly, establish rules for taking care of pets.

Children thrive on routines, so you may establish a certain time every day that your child will care for his/her pets. This will also help decrease the possibility that your child may forget to care for his/her pets.

If you have a new pet, start the chore with your child in order to show him/her exactly how to feed or water your pet. By showing them exactly how to do the chore, they will have a better understanding of how you expect them to do the job.

Encourage your child to ask questions regarding any aspect of the chore that they do not understand.

Help your child care for the pets several times before expecting your child to care for pets alone.

Carefully consider your child’s age and experience before expecting him/her to care for pets alone.

Limit the amount of responsibility you delegate to your child until he/she is comfortable with your pet and the responsibilities he/she is in charge of.

Reward your child for caring for pets. Possible reward include verbal praise, a hug, kiss or having a friend over to play.

When your child does not care for pets, explain exactly what he/she is doing wrong, what should be done and why.

Write a contract with your child. Explain exactly what you expect and include all the details. Let your child decorate the contract with fun pet stickers, or you can even get a paw print of your puppy! Display the contract in your child’s room or a place where he/she can see it everyday.

Make certain that your child sees the relationship between hi/her behavior and the consequences which follow when they do not care for their pets.

Allow your child to do something enjoyable after caring for pets, such as watching a favorite t.v. show.

Remind your child when it is time to care for pets. Remember that children may forget things from time to time, and just be patient and understanding.

Supervise your child when he/she cares for pets and provide help when necessary.

Encourage your child to ask for help when taking care of pets.

Let you children share the responsibility of caring for the pet or pets in your family. One child can pour the dog food while the other child fills the water dish.

Post a list of “pet responsibilities” so your child can review the list to make sure the pet has everything it needs.

Allow your child to take the pet to school for Show & Tell, take a pet training class, buy a special book about the pet, etc. as a reward for taking of the pet without reminders for a week, etc., or to drum up interest if interest is lacking.

Have your child go to the veterinarian with you and your pet in order to take part in helping to care for the pet outside of the home.

Help your child take care of the pet by assisting him/her in the car of the pet such as walking the dog together, and so on. Encourage your child to pick out the animal you select for a pet so he/she is involved from the beginning.

Before getting a pet, carefully consider your child’s age and readiness to accept the responsibility of take care of the pet.

Do not force pets on your child. If the child will not care for the pet, it may be better that the pet have another home.

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