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How children learn responsibility from caring for a pet

How children learn responsibility from caring for a pet

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From big dogs to tiny goldfish, children can learn a lot from pets. Being involved in the care of an animal provides kids with companionship, a higher level of self-esteem and respect for living creatures. It can also be valuable in helping them learn to cope with death.

However, one of the main advantages caring for a pet has to offer is the sense of responsibility that children learn. Whether it’s taking the dog out in all weathers to remembering to feed the fish, all pets need someone to take responsibility for their welfare. Letting your kid’s share that responsibility will teach them important life lessons that can transfer across other aspects of their lives.


When bringing a new pet into the home it’s important to prepare properly. By doing this you’ll help children understand the responsibility they are signing up for. Visit pet shops and dog and cat homes to see and decide on what type of pet you might like. Do some research to make sure the family can provide the level of care that particular animal will require. It’s also a good idea to chat with staff about the suitability of different animals for the ages of your children. A guinea pig or goldfish may be a better option than a cat or dog for younger children. Buy everything you’re going to need in advance so that you have it all ready and set up for the pet’s arrival.


A pet isn’t something you can pick up and put down again whenever you like. Looking after an animal requires commitment and dedication, even on the days you don’t feel like it or you want to be off doing something else. Commitment is an important thing for kids to learn and qualities that will help them get on throughout their lives.

How children learn responsibility from caring for a pet


While doing the dishes and cleaning their rooms may seem like hell on earth for many kids, they may be more enthusiastic to get stuck into the chores of keeping a pet. It might be cleaning out a cage, bathing a pet or making sure excrement ends up in the right place but you may be surprised at how much responsibility children end up taking for an animal they love. If your child isn’t all that keen then have her choose which pet-related chores she will take responsibility for and you’ll probably find her more willing to take ownership of them.


As they become closer to their pet and learn to care for their new friend properly it’s likely that children will develop a sense of empathy. They’ll learn to put the needs of others before their own when required and will build on compassion, treating others with dignity and respect. Small children in particular will at first express their love for a new pet by offering cuddles and kisses. However, not all animals will enjoy this and learning to handle an animal in a way that doesn’t distress it helps to teach kids empathy.

The sense of responsibility children learn through caring for a pet doesn’t stop at that. Responsibility is a transferable skill and once kids have learned it you’ll probably find they apply it onto different areas of their lives. So you can look forward to the kids taking more responsibility for their own chores, appearance and even school work.






About Maria Brett

About Maria Brett

Maria is a freelance writer with over 10 years' experience producing content for a variety of publications and websites. When not working or looking after her two gorgeous sons, she can usually be found playing flugelhorn in a brass band, helping out at her local hospital radio station, shouting at the television while watching Formula 1, at the cinema or plonked on the couch with a cold glass of wine.

Website: Maria Brett

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