Three Signs Your Child is NOT Ready for a Pet
Signs Your Child is NOT Ready for a Pet
Pets can be such an amazing addition to your family. They can be a calming presence, and a source of absolute, unconditional love. They can also teach your children about loyalty, responsibility, and kindness. I’m all for kids having pets (assuming there’s space in your home and enough money to take care of them!) but the question so many of my clients have is whether or not their child is old enough to get one.
In my opinion, there is no “right” age for a child to get a pet—but there are some pretty big signs that a child might not be ready for the responsibility of a furry, feathery, or scaled new family member.
1. Your child plays rough with other people’s pets
If your child doesn’t understand how to treat animals gently, getting a pet of your own probably isn’t the best idea yet. Try getting a few books first on being good to our furry friends. I especially like Please Don’t Torment Tootsie by Margaret Chamberlain. The pictures are fun, and the lesson is great. Once your child has internalized the importance of treating animals with care, and you notice a change in his behavior around others’ pets, you just might be ready to get one of your own!
2. She quickly loses interest in new toys and games
Taking on a new pet is a long-term commitment, and you will want to make sure that your child won’t suddenly lose interest in your new puppy or kitten after only a few weeks—or get freaked out and annoyed at her new furry BFF once she realizes the level of work involved in keeping him happy and safe. Definitely get a copy of Mo Willems’ The Pigeon Wants a Puppy and start reading it and discussing it with your child. Pigeon keeps insisting he really wants a puppy, but then when he gets one and realizes what that really means in his life, he reconsiders. It’s a fun and silly read, but one that can help your child understand what a serious commitment you have to make to any pet you bring into your home.
3. His schedule is already overcrowded
Your pint-sized son has never missed soccer, softball, or pee-wee hockey practice, loves his guitar lessons, and has just signed up for a local kids’ robotics competition—yet he absolutely wants to get a dog on top of all of that. You know he won’t have time to take care of the new family member properly (and you might be too exhausted to with all that schlepping you’re doing, Mom!) but none of this makes sense to your child. All he knows is that dogs are awesome and that he needs one . . . now. If this sounds familiar, talk to your son about priorities and scheduling, and explain that in order to add one more responsibility, like having a dog to take care of, he’d have to bow out of another activity. Reading So Few of Me by Peter H. Reynolds can help drive the point home. If he’s committed to sacrificing one of his other activities to get and care for a dog, call up the local shelter! Sounds like you’ve got a responsible, pet-loving kiddo on your hands!
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