If you are a long-time pet owner who is expecting a child or are considering having a pet around the kids, there are some changes that must be made. While there are some families that find success with the simple act of introducing one to the other, most other families must teach the young ones how to best deal with their furry friends. Here are some of the most important things you must impart to your children when it comes to handling pets.
Don’t Hurt Animals
No matter how cute or cuddly your child might find their new friend, they should know that these friends are living creatures who can feel pain and emotional distress. Younger children tend to pick smaller animals up carelessly or squeeze them just a little too hard. Teach your child the proper ways to hold or touch the animal in order to avoid injury for both parties. Pulling tails and ears must be considered taboo. Pets also need to rest so when the child is awake and wants to play, tell them to leave the pet alone when it is asleep. Be persistent and remind them that when the pet growls, bares teeth, squeals, or makes any other noise that seems like it is in distress, they should stop what they are doing to the animal.
Some children have a penchant for sharing, be it food or their toys. One rule that must be firmly established once pets are in the picture is that food should not be shared between a child and a pet. Other than germs and bacteria, there are some food items that are hazardous or downright deadly, to certain animals. When it comes to toys, parts that can be swallowed or choked on by the animal must be avoided. Teach your child not to present the animal with something of theirs that the pet can chew or swallow. From the pet’s perspective, tell your child not to grab something that the pet is eating or chewing on. Some animals tend to get rather territorial, especially during feeding, and may show aggression towards the child when approached. Make it clear to the child that the pet has its own toys and there may be times when the pet might not want to play.
Pets are Friends, Too
Teach your children to see the new pet as an actual living thing that needs lots of love and proper care so that it turns out to be a good companion. When a child screams at or kicks a pet, it will create a hostile environment and will teach the pet to dislike the child. Your child must know that there are consequences for how they treat their new pet. Ask them how they would feel if someone yelled at them or hurt them.
Pets can be one of the greatest sources of joy in a family. When combined with a child, the potential for bonding is just endless. With proper care and handling, both the child and the animal could grow up to be best friends for life.