Nov 10, 2014

Pets, Children and Responsibilities

pets and teaching children about resposibility
Teaching your children about all of the important things in life can be a daunting thought, what if you get it wrong or things don’t turn out quite how you’d planned? This worry is natural. As a parent, there are a huge amount of life lessons that you must teach your child, all of which are crucial to their development and understanding as they grow. 

When it comes to teaching your kiddos about responsibility and respect, there are just so many ways in which to do so, but the trick here is to discover a way that helps them to understand the importance of responsibility, without making the chores you want them to do actually seem like…well…chores. Although you might think that this is easier said than done, children are never too young to learn and their minds are absorbent from a very young age, meaning the process can be much less of a fight than you’d think.

Teaching Responsibility

Of course, it’s important to set your little ones small chores to do around the home, whether it’s helping to empty the dishwasher or laying the table for dinner, and the tasks can get progressively more challenging as they grow. One simple way in which to help your kiddo(s) learn about the significance of responsibility however, is through a pet. Many parents are adverse to the idea of a pet because they feel that their children will become bored and the responsibility will then be forced upon them, but if you approach this situation in the right way then hopefully, this will not happen.

Age Appropriate

A pet is a fantastic tool in helping your children learn about many different important aspects of day to day life, whether it’s social, emotional or cognitive, but it’s important that choose a pet that’s age-appropriate. Don’t start with something that requires care beyond their years. Here is a list of pets and the age range they are best suited to –

Goldfish – Goldfish are the perfect starter pet and are great for young children from the age of 3+ as they require very little maintenance and care. If you have a very young child then this could be the pet for you. Ensure that the goldfish bowl is suitable for the fish, companies such as All Pond Solutions can help you find the right tank for you and your pet – just be sure to keep it out of easy reach and to supervise feeding and cleaning times.

Tortoise – A step up from a goldfish, as they need more care and attention. These animals are better suited to older children of ages 6+ as they require more physical interaction than a fish, which is a great way to teach your child how to be gentle and kind to others.

Rabbit or Guinea Pig – Similar to the tortoise, but obviously a lot larger and no doubt a little more lively too. They require food with nutrition and substance such as fresh vegetables – a great teaching method for healthy eating. They will need to be cleaned out and handled much more regularly too. They can be great for ages 7+ but my children are a little younger than that and love helping with our rabbit - we just have to supervise them closely and set strict boundaries.

Dogs and Cats – Dogs and cats are fantastic animals for your children to grow up with and can be introduced at any age. Responsibility of taking care of them properly should be given to children who are able to understand the importance of regular feeding (generally twice a day) and who are able to control the animals whilst exercising them. For this reason, 10+ is a good age to start helping care for the dog or cat (dependent on the size of the animal). Although I know plenty of people that start their children a lot younger.  Responsibility should be given out when your child is old enough and you feel that they are up to the task.  Another interesting point to note is that having animals such as cats or dogs in the home when you have a child can reduce the risk of allergies.

The ages mentioned are just a suggestion, as children develop and mature at different times. It’s important not to give your child too much responsibility too young as the outcome may not be quite as you’d hoped.

I'd love to hear about your experiences with children and pets, or any further tips you have! Let us know in the comments below..

The winners of the Nestle Baby giveaway were Manda, Jocelyn R and Jessica H.  I will be in touch shortly!