For the last year or so, your kids have been asking (actually, begging is more like it) you to get a dog or cat. Whether or not you grew up with pets and already know how rewarding it can be to have a pet, you have decided to go ahead and adopt a new four-legged family member. So you can no longer relax and chill while winning online slots! You need to supervise your children with the new addition!
As it turns out, your decision will probably impact your kids in a number of positive ways that go beyond basic companionship. In addition to being fun to play with and cuddle with on the couch when watching TV, having a family pet can teach your children a number of valuable life lessons.
Pets require a lot of work — and the kids can help
Prior to adopting a pet, you can certainly advise your kiddos that they will be expected to help with the daily care and maintenance of the dog or cat. How much they can take one will depend on their ages, but as PetMD notes, even very young children can be taught to scoop out one cup of puppy food and place it in the bowl at dinnertime or pick up the kitty’s catnip mice and put them back in the toy basket every evening. Being part of the ongoing care for the pet will teach your children responsibility, and that owning a dog or cat is about much more than having a cute family member that likes to fetch or chase balls.
It takes a lot of money to care for a pet
Many kids seem to think that money grows on trees, so they might not have a grasp at how expensive it can be to adopt a pet. Feel free to educate them on what your adorable new family member will cost. For instance, sit down with your kiddos and shop for pet supplies that you will need online so they can clearly see the prices of basic pet supplies. A cat, for instance, will need a litter box enclosure that will hide the litter box in a beautiful yet accessible cabinet. Point out that the Ashbaugh Litter Box Enclosure, which is one of many models to choose from, costs about $77, and that the litter to fill it is available at the local store at a range of prices from about $6 to $13. Also, take your kids to the vet for your pets’ first checkups and show them the bill for the immunizations, well pet checkup and other fees. To make the amounts easier to understand, explain that the cost for one round of shots is the same as what you paid for your kiddo’s extracurricular activities, their backpacks and/or their new shoes — this will help put the amounts you are paying into perspective for your children.
Pets can teach empathy
Another wonderful lesson that pets can teach our children is empathy. As PetPlace notes, many kids will become curious about what types of emotions their new pet is feeling—like if the dog who is hanging out on the couch is bored or if the kitty who is resting more than usual might have come down with a bug. Encourage these observations and ask your son to play with the dog if he feels he needs attention, or your daughter to keep an eye on your cat to see if she perks up. Over time, this awareness of other beings can extend to people as well.
Congratulations, and enjoy your new family member!
Adopting a pet can be an incredibly rewarding experience. And as you’ll soon find out, that adorable four-legged family member will help to teach your two-legged children a number of important lessons they can use throughout the rest of their lives.