4 Tips to Teach Responsibility Through Pet Ownership

father and daughter playing with pet dog

4 Tips to Teach Responsibility Through Pet Ownership

As adults, we understand the importance of responsibility. We practice it in many ways every day at our job, at home and with our family. For a child, however, responsibility can seem like a big and challenging concept.   

At Primrose schools, teachers create experiences to help children learn about responsibility. One way they do this is through age-appropriate classroom jobs. These jobs—such as being a line leader or snack helper—provide children with a safe and supported introduction to responsibility.  

A fun approach to exploring responsibility at home is through age-appropriate chores, like helping to take care of the family pet. Research suggests that there are benefits to including chores in a child’s routine as early as age three. Children who participate in chores may develop higher self-esteem and be more responsible. This can also lead to improvement in time management and organization skills according to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry.   

To get started, here are four tips to teach responsibility at home through pet care. Be sure to adjust as needed for the safety and comfort of your child and pet. 

Food and Nourishment 

Most children love helping to feed pets. They can see and feel the excitement of the animal wagging its tail at mealtime. Pet ownership helps your child recognize the reliance that the animal has on its family. Have your child help you feed your pet, in whatever way you feel is safe, on a regular basis.  

Grooming and Hygiene 

Help your child understand that your pet needs to be taken care of just like we do. Many pets need to be regularly bathed or have their fur brushed. Children often find brushing an animal’s fur exciting and fun.  

Pet Supplies 

Take your child to the pet store to help them see what is needed to care for your pet. Talk to them about the food or grooming supplies you are buying. Have them pick out a toy or treat for your pet and hand over payment at checkout. Lead by example and include your child in the experience as you see fit. 

Love and Care 

Just like we need love to feel connected and stay healthy, animals do too. Provide positive feedback to your child when they are being kind and gentle with your pet. Practice saying goodnight to your pet or hugging your pet before you leave home. If your pet needs to go outside or be taken on walks, have your child join you when possible.  

Overall, pet ownership can help a child feel what it’s like to have an important responsibility. Whether your child is caring for your pet at home or helping prepare for snack time in the classroom, roles like these create opportunities for children to feel helpful and successful. 

For other ways to explore teaching responsibility at home and in the classroom, check out: 

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