Four Paws First: Teaching Kids Responsibility With A Pet

It’s a decision that you may have been considering for a while… there’s no doubt that welcoming a pet into your home enhances the family dynamic. Bringing home that little furry bundle is a bonding experience between you and your kids and can really make a family feel complete in a new way. The relationship between a pet and your children is also really special to witness, from the little companions who live for playtime together to cuddles when the world needs putting to rights. There is so much that pet ownership can teach your children, with some pretty valuable life lessons. 

How To Be Responsible 

Responsibility is something that it can be quite difficult to teach to our kids. We don’t want to overburden them, but equally we want them grounded enough to know that being trusted comes with certain obligations. Pets have a need for daily feeding, exercise, affection – sometimes toilet training or a cage that needs to be cleaned out. These less pleasant tasks can teach children about caring, and that it’s just as important as playtime in building a relationship. 

How To Be Patient 

Forming a true bond with a new pet isn’t always instant – sometimes it can take a bit of work, and it’s also good for children to see that. Welcoming a new pet into your home environment is great preparation – everything from first visiting the animal shelter to preparing the home, going shopping for food and dog beds or habitats and hamster toys – will teach your kids that taking on a pet is a process. 

How To Respect Others 

Pets are a micro-lesson in many things which can translate across to the wider world. One of these things is around respect. A pet is an autonomous creature with it’s own wishes and needs and not simply a toy. Your children will quickly have to learn that pets need handling gently, and that they shouldn’t disturb them when they’re eating or sleeping. Having to learn this treatment of another living creature is an important lesson in how to handle other people. Compassion, empathy and understanding are all hugely important qualities which kids in the social media age desperately need, and those lessons can start small with a family pet. 

How To Grieve

Okay, it’s a far less pleasant aspect of pet ownership, but an undeniable part of it is teaching children that death is a part of life. Loss is a painful experience and losing a beloved family pet can affect kids deeply. And yet learning how to cope with bereavement is hugely important. Having that in childhood will help give them essential coping skills they will carry into adult life. 

How To Love Themselves 

Self-esteem is something that we don’t like to think of our kids as grappling with, but they do – and from quite an early age. Helping children to love themselves and appreciate their differences feels hard sometimes, but there’s no doubt that the unconditional love a pet provides can go a long way to boosting that feeling. And having the responsibility of caring for a pet’s needs also gives them a chance to be good at something.

Nb. Collaborative post.