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How pet's can teach foster children to care

Being caring and kind, isn't a skill we are born with. We learn these skills, particularly as children. Pet's provide a great opportunity for children to experience first hand, what a difference kindness and caring make.

March 24 2021 - 3 min read

Foster children and pets - learning how to care.

Being caring and kind, isn't a skill we are born with. We learn these skills, particularly as children. Just think of the 'terrible two's' this is the behaviour we see because toddlers haven't learnt or don't yet have the ability to understand the needs of others and it's human instinct to put ourselves first.

Depending on a foster child's early life experience, some may not have had the same opportunity to learn naturally, as they may not have had as many kind and caring role models from which to learn.

Pets can help to give all children real hands on experience of how to put another’s needs first, which can be especially helpful to foster parents who are teaching kindness, empathy and caring via example.

Giving children small jobs to help care for a pet can help them to learn responsibility.

Feeding, giving water, helping to brush and the importance or regular walks and routines all help children to understand what it means to care for another, helping children see directly the impact this has on a pet such as the happy wagging tail of a dog a feeding time, teaching a child how good it can feel to be kind.

Cats and dogs are particularly good as showing their appreciation to kindness, gentle fuss and stoking are rewarded in the animals actions - they are likely to hang around for more, or come back more regularly for attention. If a child doesn't provide a fuss to a cat or a dog, or doesn't provide the right fuss, the pet will stay away.

This is a very easy and fast way for a child to understand the cause and effect of kindness and caring very quickly and easily.

It is important to remember that if a child has been treated unkindly themselves in their past, their role models have taught them to be unkind and as such supervision is always required with children and animals.

For all the benefits pets may provide to foster children, there are always things to consider when fostering a child when you have pets or if you are considering getting a pet if you are already fostering.

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Find out more in our series about the benefits of pets below.