A hands-on approach is one of the most effective ways that we can teach our kids how to be responsible. There are many ways to do this, such as letting kids help with simple tasks around the house or getting them involved in decorating their rooms. In a 2019 survey, 57% of parents agree that letting kids take care of a pet is also an effective way to teach kids how to be responsible. However, how do we know if our kids are ready to have their first pet? Here are the tell-tale signs that your child is ready. 

Genuine Interest 

One factor that you should consider before getting your child their first pet is their genuine interest to have one. Surveys show that 74% of American school-aged children have asked their parents for a pet around 11 times a month since age six. However, it is important to know if this is a genuine sort of interest instead of a fleeting phase. To determine this, you can offer to dog-sit for a family friend. You can also ask them questions about the specific pets they want. For instance, if your child wants a hamster, you can ask them questions about hamster food and care. If they want a cat, you can ask them about what cats typically need to thrive in a home. The way they answer these will reveal your child’s level of commitment in learning about the pet they want. 

Free Happy Girl Sitting on Bed Playing with Cat Stock Photo

Health and Environment

Before thinking of getting your child their first pet, you first need to determine if they are physically able to handle having one. Experts agree that it is safest to wait until a child is at least four years old before they can have their first pet. However, this can also depend on a child’s disposition as there are children older than four who are simply too active or impatient to be around pets. As well, you need to make sure that your child is not allergic to animal fur. Each year, 374,000 cats are surrendered to shelters because of allergies, and this figure does not include those that are simply thrown out on the streets daily. A child’s age, disposition, and physical reaction towards animals are the first things that you need to look at when considering getting your child their first pet. 

Consistency in Personal Tasks

Finally, you need to make sure that your child can show consistency when handling different tasks. Your child should be able to routinely complete daily tasks such as putting away their laundry, making their bed, or brushing their teeth without being constantly reminded to do so. If your child can handle these responsibilities on their own, that means they have a sense of independence that is necessary for pet owners. If your child can successfully do this, you can also try adding an extra task each day before you decide to get a pet. This will let you know if they are capable of handling added responsibilities that having a pet entails. Letting your kids take care of pets is a good way for them to learn how to be responsible. However, pets are living beings that require care and attention. As such, determining if your child is indeed ready to have a pet is important before you bring their first fur-friends into your home. 

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Vicky Charles

Vicky is a single mother, writer and card reader.


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