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How can I get my kids to help more with pet chores?

A walk in their paws

What’s it like to be a dog or a cat? The best way to find out: Have your child get on all fours and imagine. Have her pretend she needs to go to the bathroom, so she has to get your attention without talking. What would she do when she’s hungry or wants to play? This game will help your child develop empathy for her pet—so that she’ll be more aware of how important it is to take care of him.

How do I love thee?

Count the ways your child loves her pet by holding a photo shoot of her and her furry (or scaly, or slimy) friend. Together, create a collage of the pictures, and write down all the reasons the pet makes her happy. Post this masterpiece by the food bowl (or cage, or tank) to motivate your child.

Good boy!

Make a daily chart of your child’s pet responsibilities (have her help so she’s clear on what her jobs are). When she has completed her tasks, give her a pet-related reward. She and her buddy can each get a treat (have your child jump up and take her treat with her mouth, like her pet does, for an extra giggle), she can watch funny animal videos on YouTube, or get to have her pet sleep in her room that night.

Traci Paige Johnson, the “Improv Mom,” is the co-creator, executive producer, and design director for Blue’s Clues, and the voice of Blue’s bark. She’s also the co-creator and creative director for Super WHY! Traci lives in New York City with her husband and three sons.

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