Skip to main content

See also:

Pets teach responsibility and caring

Consider getting a child a pet
Consider getting a child a pet
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At some point in their life a child or young adult has asked for a pet. If having a pet is not common in the family, parents would hesitate. A pet can be a lot of work. Pets can also teach any child responsibility. Before getting a pet it is suggested that the family sit down and have a conversation. First, the family must decide on what type of pet interests them and can also best it into their family.

If time is an issue you may want to consider a low maintenance pet, but if you have the time a cat or dog may be best. Be clear beforehand of all of the job responsibilities depending on the pet. From feeding, to changing its water, to cleaning its area, whatever the case may be, be clear. List them on a visual board and even use pictures if necessary. Make sure they understand the “jobs” that need to be done.

Visit a vet so they can learn about their healthcare and grooming. Visit a shelter so they can see what time is needed or what breed or type of animal they get along with best. Visit a pet store and talk to staff that do the day-to-day care and maybe perhaps can let them try certain things. Pet stores (and libraries) also have books that may educate the youth on the pet. No matter what research is done make sure the child knows the good, bad and ugly.

Once you decide on the pet decide what person will do what be for the new pet. Make a schedule and be clear. Let the child or young adult choose what they want to do for the pet initially. As they master these skills, add more. Tell them this is their job. They have already learned from the professionals (and at the same time gave them information on potential careers) and now they can learn more responsibilities. Parents and teachers may be surprised on how these skills of skills and schedules can transfer to other areas of life.
Finally, a plus side to having a pet can also give the youth a friend. They may be able to learn to express their emotions in a way they never have in the past. You may want to encourage them to talk to the pet if communication is a concern.