Many children start asking for a pet at
a very early age. Parents play an
important role in teaching children the correct way to interact and care for
pets. If introduced to the care of a pet
in the proper way, pets can teach children a number of valuable skills. Today, I’m going to cover the top five skills:
responsibility, patience, trust/respect, compassion, and self-esteem.
Responsibility: Parents can use a pet to
teach children of any age responsibility.
Pets require daily feeding, exercise, attention, and cleaning up after. Depending on the pet, they may also require regular
brushing. No matter the age of the
child, they can learn responsibility from the pet. Younger children can learn through one task
such as feeding or playtime. Older children can learn how to care for a pet by
performing multiple tasks daily. The
tasks that are required to care for a pet are a small price to pay for such a
Patience: It takes
patience to bond with a new pet. While
the family is getting used to having a pet in the house; the new pet is
becoming comfortable with its new surroundings.
At this pivotal point in the new relationship, it is important that a child
is taught the correct way to interact with the pet. A child will learn patience while the new pet
becomes comfortable with the family.
Trust/Respect: The biggest part of this bonding time is
building trust and respect between the
family and the new pet. Children
must be taught how to touch the pet gently, tend to its needs, and learn not to
disturb the pet when it’s eating or sleeping.
Once this relationship has been made, pets make wonderful trusted
Compassion: The work
that goes into building a relationship with a pet teaches children compassion. Caring for a pet requires compassion and understanding. The new pet can’t communicate with words what
it needs. A child needs to be taught to
understand the subtle body language that pets use to convey their desires. A pet needs a compassionate caretaker who can
understand the pet’s required care.
Self-esteem: Pets show unconditional love to the family
that cares for it. This love can be a
great boost to a child’s self-esteem. A
pet can be a constant companion for the child.
The pet’s nonjudgmental love makes it easy for the child to confide in
the pet. The skills used to build this
relationship with a pet will also give the child the confidence to use these
skills with others in their life.
Owning a pet teaches children how to respect others and build
trusting relationships using patience and compassion. All this being
said, it doesn’t necessarily mean that all children are ready for pet
ownership. Parents should first make sure they are able to help their child
with the pet. Together, the family should decide what type of pet is best.
Moreover, don’t assume a child will take care of the pet without assistance
from the first day. The ultimate responsibility usually falls on the parents,
not the child, to make sure the pet is cared for properly. But allowing a pet to become a member of your
family will benefit everyone involved.