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Owning pets can actually be of great benefit to kids! It is one of the best ways for them to learn how to be gentle and compassionate. I always had pets when I was a child and got a valuable practice being caregivers.

My kids get wrapped up in the idea of owning a pet, but I wanted to make sure this experience is going to be a positive one for the whole family. We were lucky to get a guest “trial” pet. This past summer, I proposed to our neighbors to allow us to take care of their rabbit, Chestnut, while they were on vacation for one month.

It was a good chance to understand whether my kids are ready for the responsibility or not (and whether I’m ready for one more creature that needs my care and attention).

Here are ten life hacks of how to make owning a pet a positive experience for the whole family:

  •  Kids are ready to help. But be practical. Children under 5 years cannot be expected to care for a pet without assistance. Set up time and area of responsibility for daily care.
  •  It’s you (adult) who is responsible for a pet. Always. Don’t make this statement publicly but be ready to take over its care.
  • Cuddling a pet reduces stress and anxiety. Choose proper one 🙂
  • Kids are more likely to read aloud to pets than to the parents. Help your young reader to feel more comfortable. Being a pet owner is a very educational experience, natural way to learn about nutrition, instincts, and health. Engage your kids to find more information and expand the research area.
  • Children learn not to disturb pets when they’re eating or sleeping (still it doesn’t work with parents). Owning a pet helps kids to understand how to respect others.
  • Having a pet requires additional cleaning and somebody to care for it while you’re on vacation. Don’t underestimate the cost of owning a pet. Budget these potential spending.
  • Research shows that pet-owning significantly reduces the risk of allergies (in particular for dogs’ owners) and stimulates the immune system. But check what you are allergic to before you get a pet.
  • Don’t make a pet a surprise present. Instead, involve a child in choosing the right one for your family, discuss types of expenses this pet will need, and maybe even propose to share cost for buying a pet.
  • Encourage your kid to keep a journal to record the life of your pet: funny moments, the important events, daily activities, and the likes and dislikes of your pet. For this purpose use the “Observing nature” box or day’s page blank middle as a drawing space in “My Bright Journal”. It’s a wonderful way to remember a life shared.
  • Consider adopting a pet. And when you adopt a pet, you are saving a life – highlight it for you kid. Owning a pet is a huge part of learning compassion and kindness.

Ok, regardless of all issues that come with having a pet, I believe there are many more benefits for kids than difficulties for parents. As for me, only one point is crucially puzzling – where to put a pet during vacation?

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