Whilst the idea of getting your child a pet might fill you with idyllic thoughts of them being best buddies, with a cosy creature snuggled up at the foot of their bed, there are a number of factors to consider before you offer that new furry friend a furever home.
Benefits Of Children Having Pets
According to Statista’s 2017/18 findings, approximately 45% of UK households have a pet, the leading candidates being dogs and cats (26% and 18% respectively). That’s a lot of children with pets! So what impact can a pet have on a child?
A child can get a sense of responsibility, discipline and routine by having a pet in the home due to daily feeding, walking and cleaning schedules. But did you know that family pets can also help a child with emotional support, relieving stress, self-esteem and emotional intelligence.
By getting your child a pet, strong bonds can be formed and can encourage socialising, and even a more active lifestyle which can help improve motor skills!
Will Your Lifestyle Allow For A Pet?
Will your home allow for the introduction of a pet, for example rented properties may not allow larger pets such as dogs, but check to see if a smaller animal, such as a hamster or fish, is ok. Even home owners struggle to find space for certain pets, for example the size and security of a garden can cause issues.
Do you work long hours, and is your child busy with homework and after-school activities? Some people are aware that getting a dog wouldn’t suit their busy lives, but be aware that smaller animals such as rabbits and guinea pigs also need one-to-one time every day. Always research the amount of time your preferred pet will take up if you’re thinking of getting your child a pet. It’s probably a lot more than you realise!
Is Your Child Ready For A Pet?
Consider age appropriate pets for the safety or your child, and the pet.
- Toddler; Start small. A fish, or perhaps a worm farm? Something that can be kept away from the child’s direct access, but will fascinate them to watch it.
- Pre-Schoolers; Small furries are great for this age. If your child’s able to sit quietly and gently stroke a guinea pig or rabbit, offering some tasty treats, small furries can help teach compassion and respect for others.
- Ages 5+; You may be ready to consider a family dog at this age if your circumstances will allow.
No Child Should Be 100% Responsible For Any Pet
Remember, any pet brought into the family home is a ‘family pet‘, not the direct responsibility of the child – no matter how much they plead and promise to feed / clean / walk it every day. Even if your child is responsible, able to get ready for school and complete tasks without prompting, no pet should be bought with the intention of being a child’s sole responsibility.
Pre-empt the fact that they may lose interest, so please only consider getting your child a pet if you’re willing to be it’s primary carer.