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We’ve always known that pets are good for children, even before countless studies confirmed it, and confirmed it again. As children we knew it in our own hearts, and as parents we saw it through our own eyes. The steady, nonjudgmental love of a companion animal has helped many a child over the rough patches of the road to adulthood.
As children grow older, many of them want to help animals — and we should let them. This is just another way to allow animals to help in teaching life’s most important lessons: compassion and generosity. If you doubt me about how much children want to help, start asking kids what they want to be when they grow up. The answer “veterinarian” is very, very common!
Charity, as they say, begins at home, and that’s a good place for a child to help make the lives of animals better. The better you care for and the more you interact with a pet, the more you’ll reap the benefits of sharing your life with animals. From there, it's an easy step for your child to help other pets, both those with homes and those in search of them. Here are five simple ways to get your children involved with animals.
Improve the care of family pets. If your family’s pets are too often lost in the shuffle of school, carpool, soccer, and dance lessons, it's time to look at moving them up in the priorities. While it’s true that there are many things competing for our attention, pets are family members — or they should be — and they must be cared for, just like the rest of the family. Pets should never be left to the exclusive or primary care of a child. But children can certainly take an active role in pet care. Don’t make tending to the pets a “have to”; use your words and behavior to model pet care as a “want to,” a loving gift to an animal who’s counting on your child. Set realistic, age-related tasks, and be supportive of your child. This is important because it sends your child the message that when someone else relies on you, it’s time to shut off the video game and step up.
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