Pets are an important part of children’s lives. For pet ownership to be a pleasant experience, parental involvement, discussions, and planning are important. Children need to learn to be kind to animals and to be patient around them. This can also serve as learning to treat people in a similar way. Treating animals carelessly can be unhealthy for both the child and the pet. Pets can help children learn important life lessons.
Parents can inculcate how their children interact with animals and can encourage their children to take care of their pets. Living with pets can be very beneficial for children. Research has shown pet ownership can reduce anxiety, loneliness, and depression in children. It also teaches concepts of self-reliance and responsibility in children.
Here is how you can develop a healthy relationship between children and pets.
When children are between the ages of seven and eleven, they look to grasping concepts of fairness and morality. This is done by observing the adults they are surrounded by and how these adults treat each other as well as animals. It’s important for parents to teach children to recognize the needs of their pets and what they require to thrive. Parents should also teach children pets are not toys. They can’t be shut in boxes or be held tightly. At times, children are frightened of animals. Start by acknowledging this fear and encouraging a positive relationship between the pet and the child. Initiate activities involving the child and the pet, and gradually lead the child to take the lead.
Teach children to empathize with animals. At times it is difficult for children to know what animals are feeling or thinking. You can also ask your child to trade places with their pet. If the child doesn’t like what’s going on, the animal probably won’t either.
Young children, especially under 5 years of age, have not yet developed the maturity to control aggressive impulses. They should be monitored when with pets all the time. Parents should also note that young children under the age of ten cannot take care of a large cat or dog entirely on their own. Parents must always oversee the pet’s care and supervise their child while carrying necessary pet-related tasks. If children are lacking in their responsibility, parents should take over. Your child is continuing to neglect care for the pet, consider a new home for your pet. Parents are the prime role models for their children. Children can learn the basics of responsible pet ownership by observing their parent’s behavior.
When introducing your child to an animal for the first time, ask your child to sit at a distance and invite the animal forward. Encourage interaction between the pet and your child through healthy, fun activities. Your child can hide fun treats for a dog to sniff out and find. Or Your child can initiate play with a cat through a string attached to a toy. Ask your child to identify your pet’s likes and dislikes and general personality. Some pets are independent and don’t like to be cuddled. Some pets adore cuddling and petting. Some pets are relaxed while others are active. Your child will start building a stronger bond with the pet by starting to note these small but significant traits.
Encourage children to learn about the animals that live around them. Ask them to research the needs of those pets and their breed as well as species. When you have a pet at home, encourage your child to care for that pet by assigning tasks to them every day. Your child can be in charge of putting the pet’s water bowl every day. You can also make your child in charge of grooming your pet every day or playing with it. Children can play fun games with their pets every day. For example, children can make a cat tower out of boxes or make rope toys for dogs out of plaiting old sheets.
• Teach your child to ask permission before they can pet an unfamiliar pet. If the accompanying parent or guardian says yes, the child should extend their closed hand for the dog to sniff first.
• Don’t let your child hug a cat or dog in the first meeting. Pets enjoy hugs but from their owners, who they are familiar with and trust. High-pitched children with quick movements can alarm dogs.
• If your kid wants to pet an animal, show them the right way to do it. If a dog approaches, start by petting the chin, shoulders, and chest. Don’t start by petting over the head, as dogs can perceive that as a threat. Show your child how to go about gently petting an animal. Explain to them that hitting, kicking, or intentionally scaring pets is not alright.
• Don’t allow your kids to approach, play or put their hands on dogs that are eating, sleeping, or caring for their puppies. Animals can easily be startled if they are interrupted while caring for their young ones.
• Always teach your children to respect an animal’s personal space. Teach them not to pester or chase animals that are not interesting in interacting. If you have pets at home, make sure pets have personal space of their own. Dogs can have their own dog den, or cats can have a cat tree that is off-limits to the little kids.
• When you are thinking of buying a pet, choose a pet based on your child’s age. For kids around the age of 4, guinea pigs are a good choice. Ferrets, hamsters, and gerbils are suitable for kids between the ages of 6 to 10. For kids above the age of 10, cats, dogs, and rabbits are excellent companions.
by Maria A Davidson || You can’t buy love, but you can rescue it™ .
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