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Teaching your children responsibility from an early age is essential for their personal development. While you can give them different household chores, the best way to help them become responsible adults is to get them a dog. Not only will they have a furry friend to play with, but they’ll also have to take care of their pet and cater to their needs, which will help your children acquire a sense of responsibility. Of course, getting a dog is a big step and you might have to say goodbye to some of your favourite shoes, but your furry little family member will fill your home with excitement and love, while contributing to your children’s development.
Establishing your expectations.
Before getting a dog, you should take some time to discuss your expectations with your children. My son was really excited when we told him that we were getting him a dog, but I knew that his initial excitement would wear off and that, eventually, I would be the one to take care of his pet. Thus, we had a little chat about his “pet duties” and I told him that he would be in charge of taking care of his furry friend. Of course, I gave him guidelines and helped him at first, but I gradually gave him more demanding responsibilities.
Letting your child know your expectations from the very beginning is of the utmost importance. Otherwise, they might get bored and just stop taking care of their pet. You need to teach them that they shouldn’t just run away from their responsibilities, but persevere even when they don’t feel up to it.
Setting the boundaries
Dogs are so funny, goofy, loyal and lovable, and your child will have an amazing friend by their side who will teach them empathy and responsibility. However, children need to learn more about boundaries and what they can and cannot do, especially when it comes to pets. They may hug them too hard or pull their tail, which can irritate their dog. Of course, ensuring your child’s safety is a parental instinct, but you shouldn’t try to rescue your child every time. A small scratch or an innocent bark from their puppy won’t do them any harm. This will actually teach them to respect certain boundaries in their relationship with their pet. A dog will let your child know when they don’t want their attention or when they just want to rest rather than play. Such a relationship is much healthier and honest than, for example, another child going to their parents to tattle. What you can do is help your child learn to read the warning signs. Not only will this help your child stay safe and respect boundaries with their pet, but it will also enhance their observational skills, which they’ll be able to use in their interactions with other children.
Keeping it fun
Your child shouldn’t consider taking care of their pet to be just another boring chore. Instead, you should make it fun and exciting in order to motivate them to take on different responsibilities without any reluctance. At first, while you’re helping them with different tasks, you should give them positive feedback and praise their effort. You should also explain how their actions contribute to their dog’s well-being and happiness and what can happen if they don’t feed or take care of their dog. In addition, you can ask them to guess what their dog is thinking or feeling, which will help them put themselves in their dog’s place. This will teach your children empathy and help them understand the importance of their responsibilities.
Adopting healthy lifestyle habits
Taking care of their dog will help your children acquire healthy and constructive habits. They will have to walk the dog every day, feed them at the right time and use appropriate food. At first, my son wanted to share everything with his furry friend, from his lunch to his ice cream. However, we explained it to him that, although sharing is an important quality, his dog should eat his own food in order to stay healthy. Thus, he has learned that Joey has his own special, nutritious Royal Canin puppy food, while he keeps his own meal out of our dog’s reach.
A furry friend will also teach your children to think about consequences of their actions and plan ahead. On one occasion, my son left his cookies on the coffee table and went outside, leaving the dog unsupervised. When he came back, there were no cookies left. Never again did he make the same mistake. Thus, you should talk about different consequences and how pets can often be unpredictable. Your child will learn not leave doors open or his dog unattended.
Developing financial responsibility
You can encourage your children to participate in financially supporting their pet. While they won’t be able to support their pet on their own, they can participate to some extent. For example, you can give them allowance for taking up extra chores or ask them to give a small portion of it for the dog’s food. They can also use their birthday money to buy their pet a toy to play with. Although this is a small amount of money, it will teach your children to participate in their dog’s upkeep, as well as help them become more financially responsible in general, keeping a record of their expenses.
Assigning age-appropriate tasks
If you have younger children, they won’t be able to take care of their pet completely on their own. Instead, you should create age-appropriate tasks that they’ll be able to complete. If the tasks are too difficult, your children will be discouraged and may even stop taking care of their furry friend. While older children and teenagers can take care of their dogs almost completely on their own, smaller children should be given specific tasks. Little kids can help you brush your dog, let you know when their water bowl is empty or help you wash their dish. Older children can put away the dog’s toys, fill their bowl with water or food, play with them and teach them some tricks, such as playing fetch or sitting down. Before letting my son walk the dog, I took some time to teach him how to properly hook the leash. It’s important to go through the basics with your child in order to teach them how to properly take care of their pet.
By welcoming a dog into your family, not only will you all have a new member to love, but you’ll also have a great opportunity to teach your children responsibility and boost their general development.
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