When a child neglects a pet, have consequences at the ready.
Perhaps the other siblings can be paid to do the neglected chore out of the delinquent child’s allowance. Or, TV and gaming privileges are lost for a week.
Maybe the kid has to do extra chores to compensate for Mom taking over the task. But there has to be consequences.
Here are 3 pet care consequences to consider that have worked well for me:
Make pet care look like fun. Make walking the dog or brushing the cat seem like a privilege that they have to earn.
This really works especially well in households with several siblings sharing an animal. Instead of issuing threats, help kids come up with solutions to the animal neglect problem.
Keep in mind, however, that sometimes your child won't be able to care for an animal because they have band practice or they’re going to camp.
But even in that case, there are alternatives that keep the child's responsibility for pet care in place.
Try to make it their problem, but help them work out a solution. If siblings have their own four-legged responsibilities, maybe they could switch off.
And if their solution is you, help them figure out how they can make it up to you. Wash your car, perhaps? Do the day's load of laundry?
Your call, but make sure they do make it up to you or pretty soon, you'll be the only one caring for the animal. And that's probably not why you agreed to bring him or her home.
Don't make giving up a pet a consequence for a child's not caring for it. This teaches her that animals are dispensable. Do you want her to get rid of you later on when she loses interest? Pets, once acquired, become a permanent part of the family. Bringing a pet home is a serious commitment for the whole family.
And learning that love requires commitment, care, and sacrifices, is probably one of the best life lessons you can share with your child.