Family Pets: A Series on Character-Building - #1. Learning Responsibility

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One of the major character traits that family pets can instill in children is responsibility. Is your child in charge of walking your dog? Feeding the cat? Changing the goldfish’s water? Here are some ways that you can use your child’s interactions with the family pets to teach and reinforce the character trait of RESPONSIBILITY:

  • DISCUSS: Ask your child to describe her pet duties to you. Then ask her to think about what would happen if she forgot to carry out her duties. This kind of gentle conversation can help children understand the dependence that their pets have on them.
  • DISCUSS: Have a family discussion about a time a family member shirked his or her responsibility towards an animal. What were the consequences? What lessons were learned? What kind of action could prevent the situation from repeating itself?
  • DO: Create a family pet chart so that responsibilities are clearly delineated. Create a simple rewards system to help encourage your children towards fulfilling their pet duties (for instance - five days in a row of fulfilled duties might merit a visit to the local pet store.)
  • DO: Ask your child to write, tell, or draw a story that demonstrates responsibility towards family pets.
  • ENTER: Take a picture of your child taking care of his or her pet. Email Tag @elt_statement and #everylivingthing and your child and pet could be featured on the Every Living Thing Instagram account!
  • SIGN: Sign the Every Living Thing Statement on behalf of your child and your family will receive a free copy of Finding Danny, the heartwarming tale of one child’s search for his missing pet. Check out the first post in this series for specific steps.

For practical encouragement on building character through your child’s interactions with your family’s pets, stay tuned for the rest of this series!

Image Credit: HSUS

Emily McCord is an independent writer and policy and communications consultant. She is a two-time English major, holding a B.A. from Belhaven University and an M.A. from Indiana University. A former Congressional staffer and teacher, Emily currently lives in Texas with her husband and 1-year-old son. Emily encourages women as they juggle career pursuits, healthy lifestyles, and family life at The Orange Slate. You can follow Emily on Instagram (@emilyamccord) or Twitter (@emilyamccord).