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Make sure your children can handle their own pet

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
Aren't pets fun? Well, maybe not all the time, but they certainly can keep life interesting. We currently have two dogs, two parakeets and two ferrets. Pets can teach children about empathy, responsibility and patience. They can also teach parents to learn to say "No!" When their children look at them with those big eyes and say, "I promise I'll take care of it! You'll never have to clean it, feed it, or anything! I do love our pets, but sometimes I kind of feel like I live in a zoo. (Go figure)
Nevertheless, I have developed a system of sorts to help with the pet responsibilities. Here are some of my suggestions:
1. Each child has a responsibility for the pets. I found one of the most important things is to keep the supplies easily accessible to the children and to make sure that the child assigned knows what needs to be done and can do it. There's nothing more frustrating than to try to do a job that you have no idea what's expected or how to do it. As adults, it's easy for us to forget that what is obvious to us isn't necessarily obvious to a child. Walk through the job three to five times with the child (or children) to make sure they understand what needs to be done.
Also make a simple check list for each pet with what needs to be done when and by who. For example, since ferrets need their cage cleaned several times a day, before school is one child's responsibility and after school is another one's responsibility.
2. Encourage your child (children) to empathize with the pet. Ask questions like, "What do you think (the pet) is thinking about?" or "If you were (pet), what do you think you would like to do?" It's also a good idea to look up traits for your particular pet and incorporate that into your child's knowledge.
3. Try to spend time showing your child how to enjoy their pet, too.
Pets are a big responsibility, but they are also a joy.
Take time to laugh about the pet's antics. Although, this week when we "lost" one of the ferrets in the house before we left for school, I was having a hard time finding the humor in the situation. Especially when we found it hid in one of the sofas!
I hope you've had a great week! I'm starting to gather some fall recipes for Mom's Corner. If you have any you would like to share, please send them to me at: Mom's Corner; P.O. Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35460. God bless!