Kids and pets are a match made in heaven. While kids almost always want pets for the fun and cuddles, there are a whole lot more benefits that they can get out of it, and savvy parents are better served to recognize these. For one thing, pet ownership is a great way to encourage responsibility at an early age, as well as strengthen impulse control. Social skills and self-esteem are also better developed. Best of all, the physical health benefits are also plenty as kids with pets generally spend more time outdoors, as well as have fewer risks of developing asthma and allergies.
But of course, this isn’t to say that pet ownership in kids will be an overnight success. It will, in fact, require a great deal of guidance from you for your kids to reap the rewards of having a pet. Moreover, you also have to consider other factors to ensure that welcoming this new addition to your home is, in fact, a wise move.
The right pet
First, it’s important to know that your family’s choice of pet does matter in more ways than one. This is particularly important when you have kids to consider. This is because you really don’t want to end up with a pet that will require as much care and attention as your own children, nor will you want a pet that can aggravate allergies and other medical conditions that members of the family might have. Moreover, you also have to take into account your home’s available space and your family’s lifestyle to boot.
No doubt, dogs and/or cats will be the usual suspects. But taking the aforementioned factors into account, you will want to ensure that you choose a pet based on breed, size, temperament, and activity level, at the very least. Other types of species are worth exploring, too, and in many cases, may even be more appropriate for the family. So as a rule, make sure to really do your due diligence before jumping the gun because this is a real commitment that you and your family must sustain for the long haul.
Now, be aware that even when you pick the most low-maintenance pet you can find, this will still entail no small measure of responsibility. It’s definitely a good idea to get your kids to take up much of the slack, so you can impart valuable lessons on accountability and make your life easier in the process. Win-win.
But of course, not all pet-related tasks are created equal, and like all chores, they have to be age-appropriate to ensure that they get done—and efficiently at that. At the most fundamental level, toddlers and small children younger than five should not be given tasks of their own, but rather, they should be encouraged to help you or older kids in scooping out the right amount of kibble or gently brushing and smoothing fur while grooming. While school-age kids can already be trusted with significant pet care tasks like feeding, exercise, grooming, and cleaning crates and cages, they will likely still need your supervision, too. On the other hand, tweens and teens can definitely do without.
Finally, it’s important to recognize that a pet will invariably come with added expenses, which will potentially challenge your family budget. Beyond the regular cost of pet care, you will also have to take into consideration vet visits in case your pet gets injured or sick, which can definitely add up.
It’s important, therefore, to explore ways to mitigate such costs, such as through purchasing pet insurance. The best pet insurance companies often offer comprehensive illness and accident coverage and even wellness plans, so you can rest easy knowing that your pet’s needs will be taken care of as they arise. It’s definitely wise to comparison shop to find the right coverage for your pet.
A pet can be a valuable addition to the family, but only if you take the time and effort to make it so. But really, there’s no better payoff than the joy that they will bring to your kids—not to mention the life lessons—so what’s not to love?
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Written By: Cindy Aldridge, Ourdogfriends.org