A pet is a wonderful way to “Subliminally Parent”. Many times a parent allows a child to have a pet when the child assures the parent: “I will take care of him!”
Too often the parent doesn’t allow the child to live up to this. Taking care of a pet requires daily responsibility and many times the parent takes over the care out of convenience. The parent does not allow the child to live up to his promise. This does a disservice to the child. If you take over responsibility for the pet you are cheating your child out of a really important learning opportunity.
Taking care of their pet teaches them how to be responsible. On the other hand, if the parent steps in and does the pet care out of convenience, the parent is telling the child they do not have to live up to their agreements. This behavior will be carried over to all the child’s responsibilities. What the parent does for their own convenience now will create a child who assumes everyone will allow them to shirk their responsibilities. Make promises they don’t need to keep.
At first if the child is very small, help them do their pet chores, but do not just do them for your child. Praise your child; “Wow you did that just like a big girl/boy!” Children love to be big girls and boys. It’s quite a motivator.
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