No one can look at a puppy or a kitten without melting inside. They’re small, cute, and when they look at you with so much innocence; you don’t stand a chance. That’s the magic of bringing a pet into your life; then there’s the reality. Your children have asked numerous times for a pet. But you hesitate, because the same question keeps coming up for you. ‘Are my kids ready to care for a pet or am I taking on another responsibility?’
Age is a major consideration. If a child is unable to care for themselves, then they’re not able to care for a pet. Start by giving your child a few simple tasks to complete each day. You could have them make the bed, water a plant, set the table, or pick up their room before bed time. Show them how to accomplish their task. Accompany them for a few days, to answer any questions, and praise them when they complete their assignment. Then take a step back and see how they do on their own. Are they conscientious enough to stick with their task or do they need constant reminders?
If you feel they’re ready to move to the next step, try having them care for a less complicated pet, such as a fish or bird. Explain the importance they play in caring for their pet. Go over what needs to be done and how often. Sometimes it’s helpful to make up a chart as a quick reference. Does your child need multiple reminders? Do they appear to be losing interest in their pet? Go out together for a short walk a few times a day to simulate taking your pet outside. Does your child do this willingly?
If everything tells you ‘it’s a go,’ then take some time researching the type of pet you should get? What size pet would be comfortable in your living space? If everyone’s out of the house during the day, are there accommodations you need to arrange for your pet? As a family it’s best to have these discussions ahead of time, so everyone understands what their role will be. While the pet belongs to your child, they have a way of melting their way into everyone’s heart.