Most children long for an animal buddy growing up. Literature and films know this all too well and have created veritable empires from friendly animal heroes. Animals are amazing and entertaining creatures, and kids truly identify with them.
However, if a child is given the opportunity to live with a pet very important guidelines must be established to ensure everyone remains safe, healthy, and happy.
Pets, Family Values & Safety
Most animal lovers agree that pet ownership plays a big part in personal development. If parents incorporate pet care and nurturing to family life children can learn some incredible life-long lessons and values including:
However, the common denominator to all of the above is safety.
Provided your child is ready and willing, childhood is a fantastic time to imprint the importance of responsible pet ownership. Start them out with plenty of guidance and follow the general rules below:
Control – As the one in charge of your child and your pet, you must remain in control. Watch kids closely around your pet and do not leave them alone. Kids are impulsive and they may need help knowing how to appropriately touch or handle your pet. Teach them to understand what your pet is saying by acknowledging their body language.
Contribution – Your child will learn the best family values by contributing to your pet’s health and happiness. Allow them to participate in all the aspects of taking care of your pet. By being an active contributor, the trust and bond between your child and pet will get stronger. Share what it means to give an animal space when they may need it (mealtime, bathroom time, etc). You might just be amazed at what a great guardian your child turns out to be.
Ways to Approach Unfamiliar Animals
Caution should always be used when your child wants to visit with an unfamiliar animal. Teach your child to always ask the owner if their pet would mind meeting someone new, and then instruct them to extend one hand, palm down, towards the animal. If the animal is amenable to soft touches and attention, teach your child when enough is enough.
It is also important to remember that there is the possibility that the unfamiliar pet isn’t interested in a visit with your child; make sure your child knows to let it go and walk away.
Our Pets Are Great Teachers
Parents should seriously consider if their family is truly ready to bring a pet into the fold. After completing research and discussing it with your child, please remember that kids and animals can be a lot of extra work. However, if everyone commits to safe practices and proper care, the rewards are endless. Indeed, bolstering your child’s curiosity in animals will nurture their lifelong understanding of love, compassion, respect and responsibility for all the years to come.
If you are looking to bring a pet into your home, please feel free to give us a call. We are more than happy to discuss any questions you might have, and help you decide which type of pet is right for you and your family.