There comes a time when every family must answer the same request: “Mommy, Daddy, I want a pet.” How should you respond? If you do not already have a pet but your kids want one more than gifts from Santa, then it’s a good time to start researching the benefits that a new member of the family can bring. The first thing to do is to determine whether it is time to have a pet at home.
Signs that your children are ready to have a pet:
By age five, children have motor and cognitive skills that allow them to accomplish certain tasks.
- If they’re able to take responsibility for their actions: the first thing to do is to involve them in activities that demonstrate their ability to look after their things and other people. Have them put their toys away after using them, help with some simple household tasks and even take care of a plant. If your little ones can already perform these activities, they can also help care for a new pet. And remember that you can help your children fulfill their responsibilities without doing everything for them.
- If your kids demonstrate sensitivity to animals: they will probably enjoy bringing a new living being into the home. Talk to your kids about the importance of having a pet, discuss the responsibilities involved and share your own experiences with pets. Tell them about what good company pets are and how animals do not expect anything in return other than the love of their human companions.
- Make decisions: value and promote your children’s decision-making, and join them in the process of learning to accept the consequences of their actions. This will help everyone at home feel more secure when small children make decisions about their pets.
Good practices at home:
- Generate a culture of caring for nature. This will help your children prepare to adopt a new animal. Make sure to talk to your family about the importance of not buying exotic animals.
- Emphasize how important it is to provide time and space for the new family member. The pet and the rest of the family will need to adapt to the new situation, so it is important to give everyone enough time and space to become familiar with one another and accept the new family responsibilities and routine.
- Everybody should be involved: invite your children to be a part of the pet’s budget. This will help them feel more responsible and appreciate that Mom and Dad take them into account while making important decisions.
- We are all family: Acknowledge the importance of family. From the beginning, make sure your children know the pet is another member of the family. Show them that a pet is a living being that deserves love and respect.
Do you already have a pet? Tell me about your experience.