Caring for a Pet
Taking care of a pet can help children develop social skills.
However, certain guidelines apply. Since very young children (under the age of 3-4 years) do not have the maturity to control their aggressive and angry impulses, they should be monitored with pets at all times.
Parents must oversee the pet's care even if they believe their child is old enough to care for a pet.
Children should be reminded in a gentle, not scolding way, that animals, like people, need food, water, and exercise. If a child continues to neglect a pet, a new home may have to be found for the animal.
Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child's self-esteem and self-confidence.
Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.
Although most children are gentle and appropriate with pets, some may be overly rough or even abusive. If such behavior persists, it may be a sign of significant emotional problems.
Any child who abuses, tortures or kills animals should be referred to a child and adolescent psychiatrist for a comprehensive evaluation.