Should I get my preschooler a pet?

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Pets and kids go together like peanut butter and jelly. Most children love animals and enjoy being around them. There comes a time in most children’s lives when they ask their parents for a pet. It could be a puppy, kitty, turtle or fish but at some point they will ask. The decision needs to be made wisely or you could head for disaster and teach your child the opposite of what you thought this beautiful experience would be like. You need to pick the right pet for your family and your lifestyle. You need to have a realistic view about what is involved with taking care of a pet and what you can expect your preschooler to do.

Advantages:

Pets give a child something to love and care for which helps them see beyond themselves. A child who realizes the responsibility of taking care of a pet will learn empathy.

Children learn responsibility if they are required to care for the pet in some way.

Pets are just plain fun.

Children learn the hard lesson of death through the loss of a pet. Learning to cope with death is important and this will provide an outlet to understanding when a person dies.

Disadvantages:

The parent is the main keeper of the pet. Many will purchase a pet for the child. This emotional purchase and momentarily cause you to forget the responsibility of owning a pet. Are you prepared to clean a cage, walk a dog, pay for the veterinarian bills, or groom the animal?

Novelty may wear off. Children are often changing their minds about what they like and do not like. A child who desperately wanted a fish may not want it in a week. A child may only want the animal based on a story, a tv show or what a friend has and when circumstances change the child may not want the pet.

Busy lives. If you lead a very busy life you may not have time for a pet. You may want to provide your child with the experience but if you are not home to experience it then it is unfair to the pet.

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