Pets can be great animal companions for people of any age. They are often there when you need a shoulder to cry on or feel like giving and receiving attention without the commitment of a drawn-out conversation. They can also be the best naptime partners and secret keepers.
However, children have an extra benefit when it comes to pets. According to Rost and Hartmann (1994), pets can teach children valuable lessons about affection, compassion, and unconditional love. This is because, with the passage of time, children stop seeing the animal as an odd but fun entity to play with, and instead begin to perceive their pet as a beloved family member who is just as important as their parents and siblings.
One way to really ensure a proper bond between your child and any future pet is to evaluate both the needs and personalities of different animals. For example, if your child is active and loves to go outside, they may see dog-walking as a fun activity to participate in! However, if your child prefers to stay indoors and may not be motivated to change that aspect of themselves to dog-walk a few times a day, a dog may not be the best choice for them, since the dog’s needs may not be met.
Also, every pet is unique! It’s important to ensure that the pet and child’s personalities mesh well. For example, a child who loves physical activities and play styles may match better with a cat that is also energetic and playful, rather than one that prefers to nap all day. In contrast, a child who likes mindful activities and dislikes moving around too much may not be in the mood to engage with a bouncy cat and would much rather have a stationary pillow of fur to pet as desired.
In any case, it is quite important to monitor your child and pet in the early stages, so that you may inform your children if they unintentionally do something that could upset or agitate the pet. It’s important to be patient with both child and pet during this process!
In conclusion, the key to finding the perfect pet for your child is to research different animals’ daily needs and individual personality traits, and match what you best think your child will jive with. You may just find that you’ve created an inseparable bond between human and animal!
If you're looking to adopt an animal then please feel free to check out:
The RSPCA: https://www.rspca.org.uk/findapet/rehomeapet
or the DogsTrust https://www.dogstrust.org.uk/rehoming/
If you have any recommendations, please do leave them in the comment section below.
Rost, D. H., & Hartmann, A. H. (1994). Children and their pets. Anthrozoös, 7(4), 242-254. https://doi.org/10.2752/089279394787001709