At a young age, children should already be taught and encouraged to express kindness to the world, and children caring for pets is an excellent start.
Dogs are man’s best friend.
This popular sentiment speaks loudly for the connection forged between dogs and humans, but such companionship isn’t limited to this four-limbed cuteness. Any animal humans can welcome under their wing is capable of becoming their best friend, more than any human can be. Everyone deserves an animal that can provide love and, likewise, receive affection. Those they can bond and develop a profound level of companionship with.
In such relationships, adults have no problem caring for these animals, given their maturity and control. But what happens when children are given the responsibility to take care of pets?
Children and Pets, the Purest Love There Is
A family pet brings unconditional and unlimited fun. For families with children, pets are their young ones’ first exposure to companionship. Before they step foot outside their homes and nurture friendships with other children, they first form a bond with their pets. It’s how they learn to forge relationships with others who won’t be the ones adjusting to them, teaching them to be patient and compassionate with their future interactions.
In Freckles Finds A Forever Home by Renee Servello, the author writes about the deep connection between a young girl and her pet rabbit. Defined as love at first sight, both characters click instantly, and readers witness how this relationship transforms the little girl’s life and behavior.
There is something special about the thought of children caring for pets.
Imagining these little humans running around in pure glee with their pets chasing them in playful joy is nothing short of bliss. Children can be very affectionate and tender, especially to those they love. They’re adoring and loving to their families, showering them with every form of love they can provide. Children love deeply and openly, expressing this warmth in their hearts bravely and publicly.
However, as tender as they are, children can also be very naïve.
They may not mean for their gestures to have consequences. But regardless of this lack of cruel intentions, they can still be unknowingly reckless with handling animals, primarily when the latter can’t communicate their emotions.
Children Caring for Pets, a Gradual Process of Nurturing Love
At their age, most of what children care about is their playtime.
They’re at the point where fun and enjoyment are priorities, perhaps even the center of their routines. If they have school, they rush their academic responsibilities to make time for play. And during weekends, when they’re expected to rest, they utilize most of their days for playtimes.
As creative as they are, everything can be perceived as toys for children. Blankets become their superhero capes. Legos become buildings and establishments. Unfortunately, this level of imaginative play can include their pets. Animals become their play children, someone they can dress up and do anything they think is enjoyable. While to some, children caring for pets may sound like hugs and cuddles, to others, this includes fun but often careless playtime.
Fortunately, adults can correct this. While naïve, children’s minds are also very susceptible and delicate. Children caring for pets doesn’t have to be playtime-centered. Instead, parents can start instilling the kinder approach through these steps:
Allow Them to Mirror Kindness
Children learn the most by mirroring or mimicking behaviors. Whatever adults do will be fascinating for them. Without proper knowledge of ethics and morals, they would also believe that whatever behavior they see from those around them is appropriate. Hence, they’re likely to remember and copy them when opportunities arise. Adults must utilize this phase during childhood.
They can do so by showcasing the proper way to show love and care for pets. How should they be handled? What are the right ways to pick them up? By demonstrating these gestures before children, adults set an example for them to follow.
Show Them the Pets’ Downs, Too
Another way to open up children’s empathy is by showing that pets get hurt, too. Similar to how they become sick or go to hospitals for check-ups, their animals also have an equivalent downtime. By letting them tag along to vet visits, children caring for pets will develop beyond playtimes but also toward genuinely nurturing them.
Vet visits are the best chance for children to understand their pets’ health and lives truly. They should be encouraged to talk to doctors and ask about anything involving the animals. What are their favorite food? How do they sleep? Children’s innocence is often the best teacher opening their eyes to the world beyond their comfort. Children caring for animals should cater beyond the happiness and interest of children but should also prioritize the comfort and safety of their pets.
Children are naturally loving and caring. However, there can be times when their carelessness can translate to reckless behavior with their pets. While this shouldn’t be tolerated, they shouldn’t also be punished for it. Instead, they must be patiently taught how to care for and play with their fur and cute playmates. This can take time, but the result is worth it.