Today we are sharing the do’s and don’ts to help children bond with family pets. It can be a valuable experience for children to spend time with pets. There are many benefits linked to kids having pets to love and care for. Pets offer an excellent way for kids to help develop social skills while encouraging physical activity. When a child forms a strong bond with an animal, it teaches him or her valuable personality traits and life skills. It also teaches them responsibility from a young age. Even though kids are naturally drawn to animals, it is still our responsibility to teach them how to have happy and safe interactions with them.
6 Do’s And Don'ts To Help Children Bond With Family Pets
1. Always Supervise Interactions
Never leave a young child unattended with pets. It’s not just about being physically in the room but also monitoring the interactions between your pets and children. Check for things like body language on both sides. The idea is to keep the interaction as stress-free as possible for the animal and your child. Teach your children from a young age the correct way to gently handle or touch a pet. Toddlers, in particular, can be too rough, which might lead to situations where your pet feels he needs to protect himself.
2. Intervene When The Situation Calls For It
Be prepared to intervene when a potential problem arises. For instance, when your dog steals your child’s toy, you should address it immediately. Tell the dog to “drop it” or “leave it” and redirect his attention to his own toys. Also, warn your child to stop petting your cat if you notice any signs of anxiety, like his tail swishing. Always be engaged and gently correct wrong behaviour on either part to keep the interaction positive and safe.
3. Provide Some Private Time And a Safe Place
Sometimes a bit of time apart and a getaway space for both the child and pet can do wonders. Pets should have a safe space where they can retreat inside the home when they feel overwhelmed and need a break for their humans. Explain this to your child and make sure he or she understands that this space is your dog or cat’s safe space and should be left alone when they are in it. It is equally essential for your child to have time on their own if they wish to be left alone. If your little one cannot be left alone in their room yet, rather opt for a safe space for your pet instead. This can be an area where he can be left unsupervised while your child is enjoying some private time alone with you.
4. Never Allow Your Child To Discipline Pets
All pets are naughty at times, even the best-behaved ones. Teach your kids that when they notice naughty behaviour like your pup stealing snacks from the kitchen table, they should immediately tell you. This is an easy way to avoid your child being scratched or bitten. Keep in mind that kids mimic the tactics and attitudes that grown-ups use when dealing with family pets. Therefore in this case behaviour interventions should be without force and reward based.
5. Avoid Stressful Situations From Escalating
We as parents must be vigilant about pets’ body language when kids are interacting with them. Check for signs of stress or anxiety. Also, teach your children that animals use their tails, ears, facial expressions, etc., to communicate. Teach them about some of the warning signs that could signal that a pet is nervous or feeling threatened. Ignoring early warning signals can result in a scratch or bite. Even if your dog or cat has a tolerant personality, kids should still be taught the right way to handle them to avoid stressful interactions. Teach them that it’s not okay to pull their tails or ears, for instance, as your pet might retaliate. They should also leave your pets alone when they are not feeling well since they might snap at an unsuspecting child. Make sure your sick pet is checked by a vet to diagnose any potential health issues and subscribe to the appropriate treatment. If you don’t have money to afford a vet, you can consider pet insurance to ensure they get the care they deserve.
6. Always Reinforce Positive Contact
Teaching your children and pets to interact safely and calmly can be incredibly rewarding for everyone involved, structuring normal interactions like petting, greetings, and play offers great bonding experiences for your child and pets. Rewards also teach your doggie or cat to associate your child with positive interaction. Rewards can also help reinforce your children’s behaviour towards your animals. Always give praise for good behaviour, such as leaving your pets alone while they are sleeping or eating. Teach them to gently pet animals and give your pets a chance to approach at their own pace.
By following these do's and don'ts, you'll create a loving and harmonious bond between your kids and their furry friends. Have a wag-tastic time!