The presence of a real pet at home comes with its advantages for a child's development. At a very young age, a baby is tempted into following a dog or cat in its movements... his main motor skills are thereby stimulated. The same applies for his language, when he wants to call the animal and talk to him. The cat or dog can also replace the absent friend and become your child's partner starting as early as 2 years of age. The child will enjoy shopping with his dog or running around to get the cat to catch a rope. The child must learn to respect this companion. Unlike a stuffed animal, a living animal may not always want to play whenever the child does. The cat will make it very clear to the child that he does not enjoy having his tail pulled. Similarly, a dog will indicate clearly that he does not appreciate being disturbed when eating. Through good and bad times, the animal may very well become the child's main confidant, to whom he will communicate his joys and sorrows.
Starting at the age of 5, the presence of a pet can help you tackle subjects such as death or birth with your child. Finding his pet dead, his goldfish for example, may be the child's first contact with death. He will appreciate you giving him the opportunity of putting his fish down into the ground during a small ceremony. On the other hand, throwing it down the toilet, like an old filthy object, would minimize the sensitivity of the child and deny the importance of this friend. As for birth, your child may ask you if you cut the umbilical cord with your teeth, as he saw the family dog do to her puppies!
Adopting a pet involves a long-term commitment. It is important to take the time to reflect and choose an animal that suits your lifestyle. Although it brings great joy to your child, a living animal is an around-the-clock reality... you must feed it, take it out on walks, brush it, bring it to the vet, have it babysat during a prolonged absence. It cannot be treated like a toy that you put aside when you lose interest. It becomes a new family member. Buying a pet predicates a long term commitment.
On the occasion of Easter, it is preferable to offer a chocolate or plush chick or bunny, rather than living. Furthermore, chicks and rabbits are not animals that can be kept long, and do not carry out the same way as a dog or cat.
In order to convince you, your child will probably promise to entirely care for the animal. Although young children are able to participate in preparing the animal's meals or in its grooming (and they are very sincere in their promises!), they can not assume full responsibility. Taking care of someone, respecting its commitments, assuming its responsibilities are all know-hows developed during school age. A 9 or 10 years old will know how to, not a child of 4 or 5 years of age. Good to know before buying an animal!
If you decide to grant your child's request, it is important to choose the animal carefully. Some dogs don't like staying home alone all day while their owners are at work. Others need more exercise and more room. A cat requires less care than a dog, but leaves hair on everything it comes in contact with. A budgie or goldfish can be a happy compromise. By analyzing your lifestyle and your daily schedule, it will be easier for you to identify the animal that suits you and who will be content in your home. Don't overlook the financial aspect of it either. Which means not just the initial cost of the animal, but also its food, toys, treats, accessories and veterinary visits, whether for vaccines or other treatments.
Despite your desire to please your child, better think hard before buying a pet. Oftentimes, such a decision should not be taken on a whim or because that cute face staring back at you at the pet store looks oh-so-cute!