Volunteering to take care of neighbrohood pets is a great way for kids to learn responsibility. These kinds of responsibilities teach kids independance and provide them with a great excuse to be pysically active.
Chores Teach Responsibility
Allowing children new opportunities to get involved and help out with pets is a great way to increase their understanding of responsibility. Handing off simple chores to your children, which are realistically obtainable for them, not builds their self-confidence and reinforces independance. The challenge is to teach without nagging them and making it a negative experience, responsibility can be fun!
Ideas for Getting Started
Have your kids make flyers to place around the neighborhood or to pass out among friends, showcasing their willingness to help out by caring for neighborhood pets. For the youngest child, it may be as simple as a picture or photograph to which you add the words. Also encourage them to brainstorm their own ideas for flyers and get creative talking with them about other ways they might get the word out that they are available to do pet care.
Helping Out and a Healthy Heart
Your children can volunteer for small pet-sitting jobs that are easy for both you and them to manage. Walking gentle dogs is a safe and rewarding outlet for the eager young caretaker who loves canines. You can accompany your child and help with the supervision of this, while also allowing him or her to take the leash and lead the way. In a controlled environment, a summer dog-sitting job can give your child a great hands-on experience, and brisk walking outdoors also provides an increase in heart rate, which is a positive for all participants, so you will benefit from this too.
Summer Learning Opportunities
School hiatus in the summertime, generally means a more lax schedule and routine tends to go out the window at this time of year. Offering structured activities, like animal caretaking, benefits little critters and your children at the same time. Use these opportunities to teach your kids about a new creature. For example, the tropical fish you are feeding for friends can offer a wonderful platform for researching their natural habitat. Iguanas might provoke questions about reptiles and inspire the beginnings of an animal kingdom project. Facilitate learning, even in sneaky, seemingly unintentional ways, and allow your children to expand on their interests and learn new things through their own curiosity about these things.
Do not overlook the fact that young children can derive benefit from the mundane daily actions we often take for granted. Small tasks associated with pet or house-sitting, such as unlocking a door with a key, can be monumental and allow children to gain a greater sense of understanding their environment through doing these simple experiences. Figuring out how a key turns the lock and opens the door, translates to larger cause and effect experiences. The little things we often fail to take the time to explain, can surprisingly be the most rewarding or fascinating lessons for your children.
Emotional Benefits of Animals
The benefits of interaction between children and animals go beyond the physical, as well. Pets (yours or those that you are caring for) also fulfill many psychological needs. Children learn to make emotional connections through the affection and love that animals provide. Having children care for pets, also provides an opportunity to discuss emotions children often struggle to understand, such as growth, accidents, or death and helps children to appreciate nature in the world around them.
Be sure to also take advantage of using the time you spend together with your child during these pet care sessions, as a simple way to nurture your child. Speak words of gratitude and kindness and don't forget to comment on the great job they are doing! Offer positive affirmations to your child to reinforce the additional exercise he or she is also enjoying from this responsibility, so they will also recognize that healthy connection. When you both acknowledge and praise your child's willingness to take on this kind of new responsibility, you can be assured that it will ultimately translate in a very positive way to the world around them.