Pets for children
At some point, each child is likely to address their parents to their own pet, often triggered by pets from friends or relatives. But how do you react when suddenly it’s almost daily about pets for children?
Old enough for a pet
It would be so nice to have a cuddly fur lover all for yourself! And even preschoolers like to promise to devote all their attention to the care of the new family member. But with this they overestimate themselves and their abilities, because only from about seven or eight years of age can boys and girls take responsibility for animals to a certain extent independently.
Pets for children from 5 years
Younger children need guidance and consistent support from their parents, because without help they are permanently overwhelmed. The purchase of a pet therefore wants to be well thought out and requires sufficient lead time. Robust and not as care-intensive animals as cats or dogs are suitable for children from 5 years. But a five-year-old alone does not manage the care.
Pets for children from 7 years
As schoolchildren can take on more responsibility and are more resilient, the range of possible pets expands. Together with their parents, they can already clean aquariums, feed reptiles or weed out the guinea pig’s stable. However, even at this age, enthusiasm does not last forever. A lot of care work will always be left hanging on to the parents. But this does not have to lead to a decision against pets.
Tip1: Think about your pet wish in peace
In order to be sure about the intensity of the desire to have children, you should have some patience and not go to the next pet store. With appropriate books or websites, a visit to the zoo or the temporary care of an animal (for example, if neighbor’s cat has to be fed during the holiday season) it is possible to find out how serious the own child is.
If the longing for an animal is still there, make sure that the animal husbandry in the rental apartment is allowed at all. This is not a problem for small animals in cages, but for dogs and cats the rental contract must be studied and, if necessary, the consent of the landlord must be obtained.
Tip 2: Allegien must be excluded
It is also necessary to clarify whether all family members agree to the purchase of an animal or whether there are strong reasons for doing so. An allergy, fear of pathogens or even a phobia of small creatures can make living with an animal a torment. And keep in mind that not every animal fits into every family. Similarly, the acquisition and maintenance costs vary greatly depending on the type, size and lifespan of the animal.
That speaks for a pet
Despite all the previous statements, there are a number of important arguments that support pets for children. Especially urban children, who often only have experience with animals in the zoo, through television and the Internet or from stories, benefit from this. In everyday life, they have few opportunities to familiarize themselves with the characteristics and behaviors of dogs, cats, mice, fish or reptiles.
Learning gain in pets for children
- Through a pet, they learn to have respect for other living beings and to bear responsibility for themselves.
- By taking on vital tasks such as feeding an animal, their self-confidence grows, they feel more important and stronger.
- Especially for introverted and shy children (but also for children with ADHD) a pet can become a real friend, to whom they entrust their worries and fears and who accepts and understands them without criticism.
- Behaving with care towards an animal also increases one’s own mindfulness.
- Last but not least, it is positive when children deal with their dog, cat or guinea pig instead of turning on the TV or dealing with their smartphone.
Which pet suits which family?
Pets can be a real asset for children. You learn to take responsibility for a living being and enjoy having a dear friend. But the purchase wants to be well thought out, because not every animal suits every family.
The burdens must be clear
The first stimulus can quickly evaporate, the daily feeding can become a burden or the vet bill can explode. If you want to be happy with a pet in the long term, you should think carefully about this decision. The cost of a pet, how long it lives on average, how much attention and care it needs, and how intensively children need to be supported in the care, varies considerably from animal to animal.
But beware: kindergarten children always need the help of their parents to provide pets.
The ten most popular pets for children
- Guinea pig
- Mouse or rat
Which pet suits you?
Three important facts about the pet for the child
Of course, the cost of acquiring animals varies according to breed and origin. You can buy them cheaply in the shelter or expensively through a breeder.
The price range is also enormous for bird cages, small animal cages and especially for aquariums, depending on comfort and size.
However, these one-off acquisition costs are secondary, and it is more important to calculate whether the cost of daily feed and the veterinarian, which can easily amount to several hundred euros a year, will fit into the family budget in the long term.
- Holiday care:
Almost all animals must be cared for one to three times a day (exception: fish with a feeder). Contact with humans is also important to most pets. Clarify whether there are neighbors or relatives you want to represent during the holidays.
- Transmission of diseases:
Pets can transmit diseases, especially through scratches, so the whole family should be vaccinated against tetanus. Regular vaccinations, worm cures and health checks at the veterinarian reduce the risk. Make sure that washing your hands after animal contact, especially before eating, becomes a habit.
A look into the future is advisable
If the cute kitten, even as a full-grown male, still abuses the beds as a cat’s cloister, the dog’s hair in the child cause allergies and no one can care for the parakeets during the holidays, the much-awaited housemate soon becomes an annoying everyday problem. Sick animals can also put such an emotional and financial burden on a family that it is better to separate from them.
Pets can also die
But how do you teach a child that your beloved animal has to leave the family? Tears are usually unavoidable. But if there is a valid reason for the decision, even a small child can understand it. It is understandable that mum or dad get sick from the hair, or that no one has enough time for the dog and that he is therefore unhappy and has it better elsewhere. If the child is then also involved in the discussion of where the animal will live in the future, he feels responsible, can better understand the separation process and thus also process it better. A preparatory visit to the shelter or contact with the new owners is not a pleasure, but it is better than a sudden disappearance of the animal.
Dealing with grief and loss
Many children are inconsolable when the rabbit or hamster suddenly stops moving. They often don’t understand what dying actually means. Often this is their first encounter with death, and in addition to the loss of the animal, she also, depending on her age, frightens the realization that her influence on life is small. Can mum or dad die suddenly? Now it is important to respond to the child’s fears, to satisfy the need for conversation and to explain that animals do not grow as old as humans and therefore are much more likely to die.
Children must also be allowed to grieve
Allow your child time to mourn. A partner important to them is lost, and that hurts for a while is normal. A farewell ritual facilitates loss. A self-painted picture of the animal, a beautiful poem or your favorite toy can be placed in the box where the animal is then buried. But beware: animal carcasses must not simply be buried in the forest, but in their own garden if there are no contagious diseases and the earth layer above the carcass is at least 50 centimetres high. The veterinarian also accepts dead animals for disposal.
Alternatives to your own pet
Moving to a smaller apartment can also be a reason to separate from the animal. In such a case, even a care can be helpful. Many animal shelters offer, for example, sponsorships for a dog (the conditions for this are experienced on site at the shelter). Regular visits to the animal and an extensive walk once or twice a week create an emotional bond that does not reach an animal of its own, but is nevertheless fun and healthy. This solution has advantages: on holiday or in case of illness, there is no need to look for a place to care for the pet.
Sometimes, however, the path to the animal is even shorter. If a loving holiday representative is sought in the circle of acquaintances or the dog of the neighbor comes far too rarely out of the apartment, it is worth asking.