What Can Children Learn From Looking After a Pet?
I firmly believe children can learn a great deal from looking after a pet or pets, even if those pets are very small such as a goldfish, or are novelty pets like Sea Monkeys. The main thing is that the pet is appropriate to the age of the child, and that once they have proven they are capable of taking care of their smaller pets successfully, they can graduate on to larger and more exciting pets.
I grew up in a household with pets that included goldfish, dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea-pigs etc. Having these creatures in my life taught me so many beneficial lessons, and I am now certain that teaching your children to care for animals (which are dependent on them), results in those children turning into far nicer and more responsible adults than those who were never allowed to keep pets when they were growing up.
Allowing your children to have pets does not have to be expensive. I was surprised to get a comment on my How to Care for and Choose your Guinea-Pig (Cavy) hub from a girl asking if she would be okay to only keep one guinea-pig as opposed to two together. Apparently her Mother would only allow her one because she thought two would be too expensive. Bearing in mind a guinea-pig only costs pennies to feed anyway, and the cage would only need to be marginally larger for two than one, I could not understand her Mother's logic at all. Needless to say I commented back explaining in great detail why two would be better than one and would not make a huge amount of difference to the costs at all.
Some of the smallest pets like goldfish will cost next to nothing to keep, and if you are lucky you might even pick up a second hand fish tank free from a friend or a recycling depot. Setting up the Sea Monkeys I mentioned earlier as pets costs a few pounds, and that includes the tank and food etc. Neither of these tiny pets are going to cost you anything in vets bills and they certainly won't eat much. What they will do is capture your child's imagination and set them on the path to becoming more responsible adults.
As the children get older and they have illustrated the responsibility required to own a pet, you might let them progress on to small mammals like, hamsters, guinea-pigs and rabbits. These can be followed by cats, dogs and larger pets which your child can have part responsibility for e.g. feeding, grooming, walking etc. What your children won't consciously be aware of is that by having and caring for these pets they are also developing other great personality traits such as compassion, an ability to love and a nurturing instinct.
What can children learn from looking after a pet?
So to summarise here are the things I believe children learn from looking after a pet or pets on a regular basis.
- Ability to love
- A desire to nurture
What small pets are ideal for children?
Depending on their age you will find any of the following make great potential pets for your children.
- Sea Monkeys
- Hermit Crabs
- Bugs (bug kits can be purchased)
- Guinea-Pigs (Cavies)
What larger pets are ideal for children?
As the children get a little older you might allow them to progress on to larger more interesting pets which you can supervise their care of. Some of my favourites are:
I hope that after reading this you now have the answer as to what children can learn from looking after pets, and if you are trying to decide whether or not to allow your own child to have a pet, you can now see why it would be a good idea and which pets might be suitable.
Did you have pets growing up?
Do you think children benefit from growing up with pets?
Do you have pets?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.