Children as young as preschoolers can take care of the family pet and feel great about that. It is an important thing to teach at this period in their lives. Preschool age children are egocentric in nature. Educators like Piaget and many others have explained that this is the time when the world revolves around them.
Preschoolers are usually taken care of by adults and told what to do. At the same time these preschool years are excellent time when kids are very interested in emotional development and are interested to know how other creatures live and feel.
Let us consider that the family pet is a dog in this case. Here in this article we will focus how we can help the child to be part of his care and learn other skills in the process as well.
Feeding : Establish a routine:
Talk to the child and involve him in the discussion why we need to feed the dog regularly or maintain his care on a regular basis. What happens if we fail? Let him think and answer relating to his own condition.
Now establish a certain time , for example say at 8 am, before the child goes to school the dog needs to be fed. Show the clock .( This can be a related activity how to check time).
Show him the process.
The first thing will be to wash his bowl and give him clean water. The next thing will be taking his feeding bowl and scoop out specific amount of dog food in the bowl. Show him how to do that and then give him the opportunity to do it.
Make a chart and post it on the refrigerator door or so and ask the child to check it when the job is accomplished. This gives him a concrete sense of accomplishment. Let others know how your little one is becoming such a caring person.
Involve him with more responsibility now.
The dog needs to exercise and play like him too. So involve him to take him to walk on a regular basis. If it is big dog may be he might need help but do involve your child and show how to use the leash and his collar. Let your child know how to be gentle with your dog and not play too rough. Guide him find out the reasons why we need to be gentle.
Clean up and grooming:
You may want to keep the cleaning up of dog poo to grown ups and not give it to your pre school age child, but let him see how you use the plastic bag to clean them and why we should not leave them on public places.
The dog needs to be shampood periodically. Involve your child in the process of giving bath and grooming.
After a couple of weeks when your preschooler shows great performance in taking care of the pet, take him to the pet store to shop for the dog. Involve him in the research of good dog food and safe toys. He may not be able to read or understand everything but he’ll appreciate your concern for the dog’s well being and that will be an important seed planted.
Taking to the vet
Let your child see that the dog also needs to go to the vet for preventive shots and for other health reasons. This is an excellent time to talk why we should not feed human food or our leftovers from the table to the dog. Chocolates or grapes could be deadly to dogs while they are perfect for us. Why we should not ever overfeed the dog and why exercise is so important for his well being.
Books and resources
Take your child to the book stores or to the library to find books that is related to your special kind of dog, pet care and other related topics. There are wonderful movies and DVDs that can add to this list.
Not only taking care of dogs, similarly you may introduce your child to take care of other pets too like cats, fish, turtle, rabbits, birds and so on.
This can also be extended to the classroom if you are a teacher.
Thus we may involve our preschoolers in the care of pets in their environment.