We had long been contemplating on getting a pet for the kids seeing how happily they run after street pups and stray cats and how often they visit our neighbor’s dog cage each day. We’ve almost decided on getting a pot bellied piglet from a friend of my brother but the piglets were sold before we could get one. I guess we have to wait until the next birthing season.
Pets are not only cute and adorable, they also provide companionship and diversion from everyday stress. Getting a pet is a major decision because it entails commitment and responsibility in raising and caring for the animal. In a household with working parents and two toddlers, caring for a pet can be burdensome because on top of going to work, performing house chores and attending to the kids, you still have a pet to train, feed and clean. Fortunately, the rewards of having a pet can be valued much more than the physical demands that caring for a pet entails.
Fostering a love for animals, and nature as well, does not end in getting your kids a pet. It entails demonstrating a love for animals yourself, showing patience and affection to house pets, and respect for other people’s pets and even those in the wild.
Exposing children to animal life under supervised conditions, such as in a zoo or animal shelter, is a good opportunity to teach children the proper way of petting and interacting with animals. Reading books about animals and watching television programs about animals in their natural habitats can provide them with much information and can stir their interest to learn more. In the long run, your child may begin to ask more questions about animal behavior so it wouldn’t hurt to do some research yourself.
At what age can a child own a pet?
Ideally, it’s best to wait until a child is mature enough to undertake majority of the activities involved in pet care, such as feeding and cleaning. When your child reaches the point when he seems capable of taking responsibility for some aspects of pet care, it would be wise to do some research before choosing which pet he can properly care for. Keep in mind allergies and other health conditions as well as the available space to shelter the pet before making your decision.
Of course even the most responsible child will need some help caring for a pet. Remember that as a parent you are always part of the pet caring process and share equal responsibility in pet ownership with your child. If there will be instances when your child may show signs of cruelty to the animal, impose disincentives or a form of punishment just so he realizes the importance of respecting animals.
More than a hobby, having a pet is a commitment, possibly one that can last you and your child a lifetime. While pet care can be a good way to teach your child discipline and responsibility, and rouse his interest in the sciences, animal life and environment, pet care is made more worthwhile in the way that it instills in a child the value of nurturing relationships with others and fostering curiosity and inquisitiveness at an early age.
It’s probably good timing that we weren’t able to get the pot bellied pigs just yet. Maybe we should wait a bit more for the kids to mature until they’re ready for some pet loving.