(Family Features) While it may feel like your children will never stop asking for a pet, there are a number of positive reasons for bringing one into your home. In addition to the love and companionship a pet brings, having one can be a great way to teach children accountability.
At first glance, children may not see the work involved in pet ownership. But teaching children interactive ways to care for their new-found friend can evoke a sense of pride and responsibility that is hard to find in other daily activities. Here are some tips to make these lessons fun and easy for kids.
Teach animal needs: Pets need many of the same things humans need, like food, water and shelter. Break it down for kids to understand that in order to keep their new friend healthy, they need to help provide these needs, and that certain rules must be followed.
Make cleaning a routine: A healthy, clean environment is a must for pets of all shapes and sizes. Divide responsibilities and enlist each child with different duties, such as making sure food and water bowl areas, cages and litter boxes are maintained and clean. For cats, using a product such as Arm & Hammer Ultra Last Clumping Cat Litter (www.ultralastlitter.com), is ideal because it is long-lasting and will help keep litter boxes smelling clean with its powerful odor destroyers.
Create a fun feeding chart: Just like breakfast or after-school snacks, animals also need nourishment throughout the day. Develop a pet feeding schedule with your children so they understand the importance of specific times for feeding. A weekly chart on the wall is a fun way to keep track of the meals. Simply decorate a dry erase board and make sure you have plenty of animal stickers and brightly colored markers on hand.
Give them attention: Pets require plenty of attention. From daily affection to regular exercise, setting aside time to play and interact with your pet should not be forgotten.
Make a special pet spot: Just like their owners, pets love to have their own special area to relax. Let the kids pick out the accessories for their new friend – be it a hot pink puppy bed or coastal-inspired sea décor for the bottom of the fish bowl. If your friend is feline, remember they require a special litter area. Making sure this area is maintained with the proper products is an important way to keep your cat happy.
Practice pet ownership: If your family doesn’t own a pet yet consider practicing pet ownership. Ask neighbors or family if you can pet-sit for a weekend. With your child in charge of taking care of the animal, they’ll see firsthand whether they are up to the task. You will also be able to gauge if it is a proper decision for you as a family.
Following these tips can ensure pets are getting the best care possible, while also teaching kids key life skills. Your kids will enjoy proving they are responsible, dependable members of the family.
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