How To Instill a Sense of Responsibility in Kids via Pet Ownership

The world presents many ways and strategies to nurture your kids and help them become responsible humans, but none of those resources and tips can be as helpful as bringing a family pet home. Why?

A pet is a living thing with feelings and needs. Thus, your child learns a lot when playing or caring for it. Secondly, a pet presents a friendly, non-judgemental companion with whom your child can learn and unlearn things without fearing punishment.

So, what’s your role in helping a child learn responsibility through a family pet? Read on; we have the details below.

How To Use a Family Pet to Instill a Sense of Responsibility in Your Children

Dogs are awesome pets because there are breeds suited to different ages. Some even make excellent breeds for homes with toddlers. Nevertheless, since you want the interactions to help your child learn responsibility, there’s more to the decision than just getting a kid-friendly pet.

Thus, kids should be part of the whole process, from the decision to bring a family pet home to the type of food and the care process.

Participating in the search for a suitable breed also helps them learn more about pet care and shows them the need to find a pet that suits the daily schedule of the household. For instance, your child may be interested in a dog breed that can’t be left at home alone because it gets bored.

Let them understand such breed traits first because if you bring another breed, one they aren’t interested in, they may feel caring for it is a burden.

Set clear expectations from the start. Do you want your child to participate in feeding, exercising, grooming, or what specific aspect of pet care? The duty should be age-appropriate, and you can increase the tasks gradually as your child gets accustomed to caring for the pet. 

The child will understand how each component of the care process makes the pet more comfortable and how failure to perform the task affects the pet and everyone else’s role. They may forget to perform the task a few times, especially if it’s their first time caring for a pet, but that’s okay. Acknowledging the mistake and working towards sticking to the routine will be a lesson in accountability.

Such discipline will eventually extend to tasks beyond pet care, teaching your child the importance of adhering to a schedule or structure.

Below are more ways to help your child learn responsibility through pet care.

Lead by Example

Assign yourself a role, such as walking the dog on weekends, and do so religiously to show your kids the importance of reliability. The joy of the pet every time you prepare to take it outside will show your kids how important it is to be there for others without fail. Your child will also learn how to handle the pet, the process of caring for it, and the kind of love the pet shows you because of being there for it.

Make Pet Care Fun

Let the child discover the likes and dislikes of the pet during guided outdoor play, shopping for pet toys, or taking it to the vet. The experiences during such activities differ from the regular tasks like grooming and feeding the pet at home. For instance, you can organize visits to the park where they can play games like fetch, depending on the exercise needs of the pet and its preferred games. 

Such interactions can regulate your child’s emotions and help them control anxiety. It also makes caring for the pet fun, not just a chore. They might even surprise you by taking on more responsibilities in the home when they see chores can be fun.

Focus on the Positives

Identify the little things they do to make the pet more comfortable. For instance, if your child cleans the pet’s bowl without you asking them to, especially if that isn’t one of their assigned roles, appreciate their effort. It doesn’t mean you shouldn’t discuss any behavior that hurts the pet, such as a child kicking or failing to feed it. 

However, reinforcing the good makes the child eager to do better. The appreciation should be sincere and stated to show your child you notice and care. For instance, you can encourage them with praise when they do a task better than before or compliment their dedication and specify particular aspects of the task.

In addition, compliment how they perform the task rather than their personality. For instance, ‘Thank you for helping walk the dog while I was away’ sounds better than ‘Good job with the dog, son.’ That way, you let them know what makes it a good job.

Children grow up well rounded by caring for animals

Kids learn so much from pets, but the family pet should suit their age, temperament, personality, and interests. You can involve your child in selecting this pet so they learn from the onset that having a pet is work. 

Assign them a responsibility they can handle. You can start with simple tasks and gradually increase the responsibility as the kid grows. For instance, a five-year-old can help you collect pet toys after a play session. By the time the child turns ten, they will be helping you with more difficult pet care tasks like filling the bowl and walking the dog.

Image by Petra from Pixabay

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