Teaching a child to care for a pet imparts valuable life lessons such as compassion, responsibility, and work ethic. However, once the novelty of a new pet has worn off, mundane tasks such as feeding and cleaning up after an animal can quickly lose their appeal to a child. Listed here are 5 tips for teaching kids that pet care is fun.
Game-ify the Experience
There are two ways to approach tasks: by mandating them as chores, or by reframing them as fun games that children get to play. Find ways to “game-ify” the pet care experience. For instance, assign point totals for each task that the child completes, and see who in the family can earn the highest number of points in a week’s time for a special prize.
Besides creating point total challenges, find fun ways for your child to compete with your pet. For instance, can your child be more active than your dog?
Use an App
Cellphone apps can make nearly every aspect of life easier, including pet care. Children respond well to technology, and apps can game-ify the pet care experience by tracking your pet’s care in a straight-forward manner. The Actjoy App can make pet care fun for children (and easier to track for parents!).
Set up a Scrapbook
Create a scrapbook for your child to document his or her favorite pet. Included in the scrapbook should be a section on caring for the pet, where the child can describe his or her duties. Create a log that allows your child to record which tasks were completed each day to create an additional level of accountability.
Do Not use Pet Care as Punishment
Ultimately, when making pet care fun for children, parents should never use it as punishment. For instance, it can be tempting to punish a child by “sentencing” him or her to a week of cleaning up dog poo in the yard, but this tactic only serves to make the child resent pet care – and possibly even the dog.
Pet care does not have to be a chore for children. When approaching these tasks with a cell phone app, as a game or challenge, or a fun activity (or all 3!), taking care of the family dog is a responsibility that does not have to fall onto overworked parents!
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