It’s never too early to start teaching your child about responsibility. As they get older, we want them to value cleaning up after themselves, helping out around the house, and even using their manners. To this end, it is important to instill values into their core at a young age. One of the best ways that parents can help instill values and responsibility is to start doing at an early age and by getting their child a pet.
Getting a child a pet is a fun way to help them learn how to be responsible. You can have them help with cleaning out a cage or tank, feeding the pet, and making sure the pet gets plenty of love and attention. Having a pet gives the child something to look after – something that isn’t capable of taking care of itself. The child will love playing with the pet, and they will want to make sure that the pet is well cared for.
Start Off With A Smaller Pet
If you are considering getting a pet for your child to help teach values, you may want to start off with a small one. Pets like cats and dogs require a lot of work, and more often than not the parent ends up doing most of it. To start off, you should look at smaller pets like fish, hamsters, rabbits, or other small creatures. This way your child will be able to take on a more active role, and if they happen to forget about their duties, it isn’t hard for the parent to step in and take care of it.
Not sure what kind of small pet to get your child? Here are a few suggestions:
These furry little critters are adorable, and offer a bit more excitement than a fish. Children can watch the hamster play around on it’s wheel, run around its cage, or put them in a ball and watch them roll around on the floor. Hamsters require a bit more care than fish – you’ll need to make sure they have food, water, and get exercise – but an older child should be able to handle it.
Rabbits are great for younger kids, as they are not as fast as hamsters. If your child happens to let your hamster out, those things may be gone in an instant. Rabbits tend to be a little slower, so you have a better chance of catching up. They require roughly the same amount of maintenance as a hamster, so it really comes down to you and your child’s preference.
Ferrets are fun and active mammals. However, even though they are smaller animals they are fairly high maintenance when it comes to caring for one. If you decide to get a ferret, you need to make sure that it has been de-sexed prior to them going into sexual maturity. This will prevent them from having reproductive health problems and it will reduce the odor. They are social animals and it is better if you adopt them in pairs so that they have a companion to play and socialize with on a long term basis.
They do require a cage and a litter box. Plus, if you allow the ferret out to play you will want to have several litter boxes around the house your ferret to use the bathroom. You will have to clean the box out regularly so that it doesn’t stink. It is best to use shredded newspaper in the litter box or recycled newspaper cat litter. They are known to nip during play so it is best that you don’t have a ferret if you have young kids.
A guinea pig are very similar to a hamster but they are only bigger. If you plan on getting a guinea pig, make sure that you invest in a large cage that is made especially for guinea pigs. They do require a ton of exercise compared to a hamster. Avoid buying a hamster wheel and placing it in a guinea pig’s cage, it can harm your animals back or legs. They require a special diet of Timothy hay and it should be kept in the cage around the clock. Plus, they will need commercial pellets, fresh vegetables, a small amount of fruit, water, and a daily dose of vitamin C (don’t add it to the water). They will need their cage cleaned out frequently to avoid their cage from smelling.
One of the simplest pets to take care of is a fish. With most fish, all you have to do is feed them every once in a while, and make sure that the tank remains clean. Kids should have no trouble sprinkling in some food every now and then, and if you get fish tank filters like these from Pet Solutions, your child will even be able to help clean the tank. Best of all is that fish are relatively inexpensive, so if something goes wrong they are not hard to replace.
If you’ve been looking for a fun way to instill some values in your child, and at the same time give them some entertainment, think about getting them a small pet. With any luck they will be able to handle most of the work, they will learn important life lessons, and they will even be kept occupied when playing with the pet.
Photo Credit: Flickr via Creative Commons
Do you have any pets? If so, what type of pet do you have and are your children responsible for helping with their care?