Teaching Kids to Care for Pets
You have brought home a new pet- whether it is a full grown rescue from the pound or a brand spanking new puppy or kitten you have added a lot of responsibility to your household. Even small pets like hamsters and birds require constant care. While that will definitely fall on your shoulders (at least in a supervisory position) this is a great learning experience for kids, teaching them proper handling and care of a new pet as well as responsibility.
It isn’t always fun- like the piddle puddles on the rug, or favorite pair of shoes being used as a teething toy. But it is rewarding when your puppy licks your face in thanks or a kitty purrs in happiness. Watching your child love, care for, and learn how to be responsible is a priceless reward as well. If possible,before even bringing your new pet home, there are some things you should go over with your child such as handling, care, feeding, and more.
Here are four important things to help get the kids prepared:
Gentle Hands– This is a phrase repeated often in our house. Whether its reminding them to be gentle with one another or to be easy with the pets. This is the first thing children need to learn when bringing in a new pet. From dogs to cats to baby chicks or hermit crabs it is important that they learn how to handle them, for their protection as well as the pet. If your child is big enough, teach them the proper way to hold their pet. Most furry friends should be held with an arm underneath to support their legs and bottom, and a secure arm around their middle while being held to your chest. Some animals need to be handled in a special way- snakes, spiders, hermit crabs, hedge hogs, hamsters, and birds to name a few.
Read all about it!– Before you even bring home your pet head to the library or bookstore and pick up a book or two on caring for your pet. There are a ton to choose from and are readily available in just about any species, breed, etc. Read the book together and talk about expectations for your child in caring for their new animal.
Feeding– Put food in an airtight container low enough so that its easily accessible to kids. Put them in charge of filling food and water bowls, even small children can scoop food into bowls. Demonstrate the amount of food to give each time (a pre-measured cup is the best way to go for consistent feeding) and also how to wipe up spills. Make a morning and afternoon checklist or add it to your childs existing chore list.
Clean up-Make sure they understand that they are responsible for cleaning up messes behind their pet- accidents if they are big enough. Tidying up scattered toys, washing bowls, cleaning out cages, changing papers, and maybe even bathing pets. Bath time can be fun for your child and pet (supervised of course) Choose a shampoo that is gentle for both young pets and children.
Those are some of the most important ones! Do you have tips that you have used in getting the kids to care for pets?