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5 ways to teach children about pets

Friendship can come in all shapes and sizes. But there’s nothing cuter than to see a friendship blossom between a pet and a child. Or is it?

As parents and educators, we have the responsibility to educate our children on how to take care of their pets. The skill to learn to take care of their pet = mascota is a lesson that they will carry on forever.

Not just to other pets but socially to others. When they start to care for others, they also learn about the traits of friendship = amistad and kindness = bondad.

But are all children capable of learning about friendship and kindness by having a pet?

They can learn by having another childhood friend and most certainly can learn by interacting with parents and caregivers. But if the child keeps asking for that puppy for the millionth time, maybe it’s time to consider a pet in the home.

However, there are some considerations to keep in mind when introducing a pet to children.

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1.  Visit the local pet store

Most children love to visit the local pet store in their hometown. It is an exploration magnet full of experiences for young children. In some areas, they offer adoption days, where families interested in adopting a pet can interact with various species to see the right type of pet.

Once families consider the right pet for their home, usually the necessary adoption papers can be done at the pet store. But take this opportunity to introduce other types of pets that otherwise you might not consider. Walk around the pet store to see which pets the child is interested in adopting.

Then, talk about it. Of course, ask questions to the child about responsibilities to take care of their pet.

2.  Visit Pet Parks

Most suburban areas in cities have pet parks exclusively for dogs and cats. If fortunate enough to have these pet parks in your area, take the children to experience the diverse types of canines and felines. There are numerous types of variation between dogs and cats.

So, widen their knowledge of the many types of pets. If at all possible, try to interact with these pets, if the owner allows. This visit is a valuable opportunity to teach how to approach a strange pet:

  • ask permission from the owner,
  • ask the pet’s name,
  • put your hand out to sniff,
  • allow the pet to sniff your hand, and
  • invite the pet to get to know you.

3.  Visit with family or friends that have pets

By visiting with relatives or friends that already have pets, this lesson allows one-on-one interaction in a safe environment. Since the child is probably already familiar with the surroundings, it might be more comfortable to play with pets. Unless the family member or friend has many types of pets, this playtime allows one type of pet interaction.

4.  Visit pet shelters

Most animal shelters in cities have numerous abandonded pets. Unlike a pet store, these facilities serve the purpose to rescue abandoned pets. Most pets in these shelters have been abused or neglected by their owners.

Try to visit these shelters with caution since most of the animals have bruises, cuts, or injured. Also, this situation presents a great opportunity for the importance and responsibility of taking care of pets.

5.  Visit a local zoo

Many cities have a local zoo that you can visit. Here, you can introduce the many varieties of species. But a key point is that not all animals make great pets. However, many of them are still wildlife animals.

Perhaps, consider whether that particular pet would make a great family member or not. But it is a wonderful opportunity to explain children that the world contains many different species.

Whether your family already has a pet or is considering a pet, there is no better time to explain the importance of taking care of a pet. Having a pet is the best lesson in friendship a child can learn. Introduction of a pet to a child is one of the most valuable interactions a parent or caregiver can have as a family.

Barbara Mascareno

Barbara is an educational writer, teacher, and instructional designer. She loves to write K-12 education content, teaching strategies, bilingual education approaches, and foreign language.

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