As a parent the day will come where your children will ask to get a pet. Understanding the responsibility that comes with a pet is important to both the parents and children. What happens many times is that the child will want to get a pet and once the new glow of being a pet owner has worn off it then becomes the responsibility of the parents. If you are a parent that decides it is okay for you to be the responsible caregiver then this is all good. If you are a parent that wants to teach your child responsibility then there are a few things to think about.
- How old are your children? The age of your children will have a great influence on the type of pet that is appropriate. For a smaller child or children beginning with a pet that is easy to handle and care for will not only teach responsibility but also not be a huge burden if the children change their minds. One of the best examples of a small pet is something like a hermit crab that stays in a small container and does not require a lot of care.
- For the children that are a bit older but have never had pets a guinea pig or hamster is a good start. These pets do require a bit more care. They are also a bit more costly then something such as a hermit crab. The hamster or guinea pigs cage will need to be cleaned at least once a week and they will require more food. These types of pets should also be socialized which means they will need to have some time spent with them. If the cage is not kept clean it is important to explain that the pets can get sick very easily and this is a very important responsibility.
Getting a pet for you children can be a very rewarding family experience. If the responsibilities are followed then the pet can be enjoyed without the bickering of who is responsible to do what chore.
One of the best things that many parents do is before the pet is even brought home a “contract” is drawn up. If there are multiple children each child can be assigned a task. The task should be age appropriate and gentle reminders might be needed. In the beginning the reminders are fine but it should not have to be a constant thing to be reminding the child of his/her responsibility multiple times a day.
For the pets that require more attention such as a puppy it is important to realize the care and attention that will be needed. If Johnny has agreed that he will walk the puppy at certain times of the day then decides he is too busy the puppy will still need to be walked. This is where getting a family pet can cause some stress in families. The puppy still needs to be walked and almost always becomes the responsibly of one of the siblings or the parents.
With careful consideration the perfect pet can be picked for children. The cost and work involved in having a happy and healthy pet need to be first priority. If you are seeking a pet to teach your children responsibility be sure it is something you are still able to care for if things do not work out and the children become “tired” of the newest family addition.