“Can I have a puppy? Please, oh please, I’ll take care of it and look after it and everything.”
Just what do you say to your kids when they ask for a pet? It is perfectly true that growing up with a family pet can teach children responsibility and to develop their social skills. Also cultivating good feelings towards pet animals helps kids to develop a sense of self esteem and help them to establish trusting relationships with other human beings. But before you give in to your kid’s demands for a pony, rabbit, salamander, kitten, boxer, python, or macaw, there is plenty for you to consider.
The first thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much your kid promises that she or he will be the one to take care of the pet, some if not all of that responsibility will fall upon you. That is an inevitable, inescapable fact. No matter how good the child’s intention is, there will be some, and perhaps many, occasions when other things take priority in their minds and the pet is unintentionally neglected. That is, the pet would be neglected if you were not there to step in, because somebody has to.
Secondly a child may sincerely believe that the thing that they most want in the world is a cute little black and white kitten, just like their best friend of the moment has. The child has really convinced themselves that they want a kitten, and a kitten will hold their interest forever and ever. And so it would, until their new best friend of next week gets a pet lizard which is just sooo cool. So you will want to make absolutely sure that the pet that your child is demanding will be a long term passion, and not just a fleeting interest. It will be a good idea to discuss the idea with the whole family. How do they feel about yapping dogs, hair-shedding Persian cats, squawking parrots? If one of your children is allowed their very own pet hamster, will all of the child’s siblings demand a pet of their own, too. Does anybody in the family suffer with an allergy that will make sharing their home with a certain animal intolerable?
Is the type of animal your child is asking for suitable for your family, and your family’s lifestyle? A dog that needs two trips to the park every single day may not be suitable for a family who is away from the house all day. And no matter how much a child promises that they will walk the dog, there will be times that they will fail to do so, (and times that you may not want them to, after dark for example). Choosing pets for kids is not easy, often the type of pet they would plead for would not be the best match for their age and experience with animals.
You should also consider cost. Not only the cost of acquiring a pet, but most importantly the cost of taking care of it. The animals involve a financial commitment, food, vet bills, pet care products, etc. You don’t want to acquire a pet for your kid only to find that you don’t have the financial means to keep it. Small pets for kids often have less costs involved in looking after them than larger pets do.
There are many other things to consider when choosing pets for kids, but hopefully this short article will have prompted you to think about the fact that buying an animal for a child, is not the same thing as buying a kid a cell phone or a bicycle. Pets are living, breathing creatures, they need care, they need commitment, they need love.