Have you ever heard that having a parrot is a lot like having a two-year-old child? What do you suppose it's like if you actually have a two-year-old child and a parrot? Or a child of any age for that matter?
It’s hard enough having just kids or just parrots. Mixing them takes things to a whole new level that can be on shaky ground.
As, parents we are responsible for kids and birds co-existing without un-due stress to anyone
You can’t count on children to know their limits where birds are concerned. We all want to think that if a child gets bitten, he won’t bother the bird any more. But, kids don’t think that way. In fact, it’s not even enough to tell them “hands off.” Something that’s off-limits just becomes more appealing.
A child may be able to play just fine with the dog and cat, but have a hard time understanding why their pet parrot is different. It’s not that they can’t ever be around the bird, but there should be rules for everyone’s safety.
Many pet parrots don’t interact well with children, especially younger kids or those that are really wiggly, noisy or nervous. Calm, patient older kids, usually ten and up, tend to get along better, but even then there are factors that might make the situation dicey including:
– Children move differently, talk differently and give off completely different “vibes” than teens or adults.
– A 10-year-old’s attention spans are shorter and they get frustrated more easily.
Parrots react to these differences with hesitation and possibly fear. Your pet parrot is more likely to bite or scream under these circumstances. For some birds, just seeing a child sets them off, even if the child has done nothing to warrant a harsh reaction. This is when you really need to be careful.
Having a pet parrot is NOT all gloom and doom
With the right bird, and some lessons for the kids about how to behave, everyone can get along fine. Many of our own experiences with birds started when we got our first budgie or cockatiel while we were in grade school. There’s no need to deny a child this opportunity, but it should be done responsibly.
If you have a bossy Moluccan cockatoo with a hair-trigger temper, you can easily see where things might go wrong. But what if you have a friendly, happy-go-lucky conure or a shy and gentle African grey? How do you know where to set the limits? Obviously a more laid-back bird allows for more possibilities, but what tends to make it or break it is your child’s personality and what you can expect from him or her.
Here are my top 7 tips to help your kids keep safe around your pet parrot
1. First and foremost, teach your kids that the pet parrot is part of the family.
2. Only allow your children to interact with the bird under certain conditions. Such restrictions might be that an adult must be present and the bird can’t be picked up without permission.
3. Make sure your kids can understand that as they get older, they will gain more access to the bird. At some point, you may decide your child is ready to have his or her own bird.
4. If all has gone well with the family bird, and you stick to the more kid-friendly varieties—budgies and cockatiels are your best bet—then give it some consideration.
5. The older the child, the more bird-care responsibilities they can have. Even a young child can help with some of the cleaning and feeding chores, but under no circumstances should a child be the main person handling this stuff. An adult or mature-minded teenager must make sure that the bird gets fed, watered and cleaned up after, especially if a child has his or her own bird.
6. Do NOT punish the bird for your kids’ behavior. Kids can forget, even the more responsible ones, and it wouldn’t take long for a bird to succumb to neglectful care. Please don’t think it’s a good lesson about the consequences of being irresponsible by letting your child’s pet parrot die. This is NOT a good way to prove a point.
7. Take the bird away if it’s not being cared for properly. This teaches consequences without punishing the bird.
You want your child’s memories of parrots to be happy ones. After all, you may be contributing to the next generation of parrot lovers. The parrots are going to need them! So, follow these tips and keep both your child and your pet parrot happy.
BirdTricks.com Parrot Behavior Consultant Kim Bear has helped thousands of parents just like you eliminate biting so they don’t have to worry about stocking up on band-aids for their children again. Now, you can learn how to keep your kids safe with a free 3 Day e-course and downloadable video lesson on how to train pet parrots to behave at http://www.birdtricks.com