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August 26, 2020

Children and Foster Pets: Five Important Life Lessons

child holding a rabbit

Inviting a foster pet into your home is a fulfilling experience for all, but it can be an especially meaningful adventure for children. All life experiences offer important lessons and fostering a small pet such as a rabbit or guinea pig is no different. 

Life lessons to be learned from fostering a small pet:   

1. Kindness

Children are naturally drawn to animals.  Fostering a pet can lead to real lessons on empathy and giving of themselves for the benefit of another living thing. Learning to express kindness is a life lesson that benefits everyone involved and makes life more meaningful for children, small pets, and adults.     

2. Respect

Just like people, all animals have unique personalities with their own likes and dislikes. Through fostering, children can learn about respecting the boundaries of the animal and work to gain trust.  All pets have ways of communicating happiness, fear, and uneasiness. A fostering experience will help them learn to engage at the pet’s level. 

3. Responsibility

All parents want their children to learn and practice responsibility in their daily lives. There are many activities for children to be involved in when it comes to fostering small pets, and all of these important activities that help teach responsibility. For example, you can encourage your children to make a chart on daily feeding, cleaning, enrichment, and socialization. The opportunities for teaching responsibility as a part of the foster process are truly endless.    

4. Creativity

Children are endlessly creative, and this creativity can enrich the small animal fostering experience in a myriad of ways. For example, utilize a child’s creative mind for making up new enrichment ideas for the pet. Draw pictures or write stories of how the pet grew while in your care and their uniqueness. This helps remind the children this is a foster pet and will be moving to a forever home.  

5. Knowledge

Let’s face it - kids love the internet. And, while many parents seek to limit their children’s screen time, the internet can be a valuable (and meaningful) tool when it comes to involving your children in the small animal foster process.  Provide them a supervised opportunity to do some valuable research when it comes to your foster pet. 

Some examples of beneficial research can include:

  • Find the best ways to interact with the foster pet. 
  • Search for blogs on fun things to identify in animals; what do the sounds mean from the rabbit or what is popcorning. 
  • Encourage them to look for ways to enrich the habitat and engage with even the shyest animal. 
  • Reading is also a win/win for animals and children. When a child is reading, they are often calm and have a level voice this allows even the most skittish pet to get used to the presence of a person. 

Now that you know you want to foster a pet, what’s next? Preparation is key! To get started, be sure to check out our article on five steps for a successful small animal foster. 

  • Determine the best pet for your family dynamics. 
  • Research and develop a good relationship with a fostering agency.
  • Prepare your home.
  • Let the learning and growing begin. 

Learn More

Foster 101: How to Help Your Foster Find the Perfect Forever Home 

Should I Foster a Pet?

Final Fosters: Tips for a Successful Experience