Get your child to feed and water the family pet. 3 parenting tips.

Taking care of a pet is a huge responsibility and chore for a child. It’s a living, breathing animal and is many steps above pretending to feed their doll at the dining room table. While a pet is often bought for the child, many times the feeding and general care of the pet quietly shifts from the child to the parent. Below are three parenting tips to encourage your child to take responsibility for caring for their pet.

1. Put it on their chore list.

Help your child manage their chores by creating a chore list using a modern mobile app. You can create a simple list with paper and pen or a more versatile chore list using a dry-erase board or a magnetic board. You can also get crafty by laminating a small picture of your child’s pet to symbolize “feed and water pet”. Put a magnet on the back and when your child completes a chore they can stick in on the fridge to let you know they’re done. If you already have a chore list your kids can manage then “feed and water pet” should be an easy thing to incorporate into your system. If you don’t have a chore list for your child, why not start the list now with “taking out the trash”?

2. Set aside a “pet feeding time”.

Help your child remember to feed and water pet by establishing a logical time for this chore. The most convenient time to feed and water your pet is when you are feeding and watering yourself. Before you set out breakfast or dinner, say something like, “Let’s feed the dog first” or include your pet as you are setting the table. A plate for mom, dad, little Jimmy and a bowl for Fido, too! You can also be efficient by having your child feed your pet while you are setting the table. The time doesn’t matter; just pick a time that works for your family’s schedule and be consistent.

3. Set up a reward system.

Reward systems work best when the reward is directly related to the chore. For instance, if your child helps out by feeding your pet then that saves you time, energy and aggravation. This extra time can be used to spend time together. Use stickers or marbles in a jar or even just X's on a piece of paper to keep track of when your child feeds and waters your pet. After your child accumulates five stickers plan a special outing or activity. You can also bring the chores online if your family is more tech-savy.