Monday, November 19, 2012

Teaching Kids Responsibility Through Pet Ownership

I know y'all been probably wondering why you haven't seen any pictures of Sambien (DJ's baby Corn Snake). After the second snake and a better tank guess what happened? Yes, it escaped again!! We haven't found the snakes and it has been months. The second corn snake escaped within a few days. Boy was I FRUSTRATED when I found the tank without a snake inside!!

Here's what I learned about allowing DJ to have a snake at eight years old.

  • You must set up an environment that allows the pets' needs close by.
  • Help to clean out the tank ( this is when the second snake escaped). Don't assume that they will be attentive enough during this process ( I felt so sad/guilty when his snake escaped because he just was cleaning it out)
  • Make sure the child understands that the habitat doesn't need a whole lot of stuff in it. It just needs to be clean and have a few decorative items and any required equipment  necessary to keep the animal alive.
  • In the case of a snake it needs it alone time. Taking the snake in and out of the cage is not what a snake owner wants to do to keep their snake happy:)
  • The child should keep their own room clean at all times first before becoming a pet owner, especially if the pet will be kept in the room.
  • Keep feeding schedule chart close by( DJ did a great job with this)
  • Prepare the environment before bringing the pet home
  • I needed to do more research on the animal as well. Together we researched and found that Corn Snakes were good for kids for first time snake owners. We later found out that due to snakes being great escape artist it is not good to start out with a baby snake.
  • Start a relationship with the person who works at the pet store in your child's favorite department. They hold so much knowledge and experience and they are willing to share it.
There are other things that I learned as well, such as DJ didn't lose interest in his pet which was one of my main concerns. DJ is passionate about animals!!  DJ will do proper research to be sure that he is knowledgeable of the animals' diet, habitat, sleeping habits, etc.With these positive qualities that DJ possessed it was worth giving pet ownership another try.

We made a contract that if another pet was going to be brought home he would do his chores as demonstrated, no shortcuts. Personal grooming will happen without any prompting from me (especially washing hands after using the bathroom:), and he must keep his room clean.

I am happy to say that DJ is now a proud owner of a Leopard Gecko.
  DJ is really loving being a pet owner again and I can see that he was definitely missing a part of him since his snake escaped.  
Other things that DJ and I have learned about the responsibility of being a pet owner.

  • How much does it cost to feed a Leopard Gecko/Corn Snake a month?
  • How much electricity usage that it take to keep a Leopard Gecko/Snake tank running at it's optimal level?
  • What can we do to reduce the cost of electricity to prevent a hike in the bill? 
  • What can he do to cut down on the household expenses such as raking the leaves instead of paying someone else to do?
I was able to use DJ's passion for animals to also teach all of the kids about budgeting. We looked at my earnings for the month and made the deductions that were necessary to live and operate a home preschool. They became more grateful and more willing to save for all of their wants. This was a good lesson for them to learn how being responsible helps the family and when you contribute to the household and save then there will be a time when you can possess some of your wants. I really like how this whole experience worked out! I never felt comfortable offering my children money for chores and this way they know that being responsible(doing chores, school work) is a win-win for everybody.

It was a teachable experience that I know hit home. When we were out grocery shopping they compared prices and now generic ketchup isn't so bad when you can save a dollar to buy a dozen of crickets.  

I am linking this post to Montessori Monday .                                          


  1. I just made my 20 month old start to help when I feed our dogs. And, wow, hes loving it and I can really see him learning. Great post!

    Found you through Montessori Monday!

  2. This is awesome list of lessons learned. I want to take that plunge, I know it will be a wonderful way to teach responsibility, but I was frankly scared. You broke down the steps I need to take well. Thank you!


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