Your kiddo has been begging for a pet for a while, and while you may also want a new furry bundle of joy in your home, you’re probably considering an important question: “Is my child ready for a pet?” As a parent, you know that caring for someone is a big responsibility — and an important lesson for your child to learn, too. But if your child doesn’t have the time, maturity or temperament to properly and responsibly care for a pet, you’ll likely be the one picking up the slack. So how do you know when they’re ready?
Answer these five questions to gauge whether it’s a good time to adopt.
Question 1: How does your child handle their chores?
A. They don’t have any. I don’t think they can handle them!
B. My child often forgets or procrastinates, but they eventually get done.
C. Their chores are often finished before I need to ask.
Question 2: How busy is their schedule?
A. Between sports, playdates and homework, my kiddo could use an administrative assistant.
B. My child has a nice balance between activities and time for play.
C. Honestly, it would be great to give them some more responsibility to bust boredom!
Question 3: Have they expressed the desire for a pet?
A. No, this is mostly my idea.
B. My child has mentioned it once or twice.
C. They’ve done research online, checked out books on pet ownership from the library and routinely shared fun facts about animals at the dinner table.
Question 4: Does your child understand that animals need a gentle touch?
A. They prefer chasing ducks to feeding them and often pester animals at the zoo.
B. They are cautious but curious around new animals.
C. My child has had lots of exposure to animals outside of our home and always respects the animal’s space.
Question 5: Is your child happy to share with others?
A. “Mine” is their favorite word.
B. With some encouragement.
C. My child will share a snack, toy or hug without thinking twice about it.
“Is My Child Ready for a Pet?” Results:
Hold your horses.
Your kiddo isn’t quite ready to look after a pet — but they might be someday! If you get a pet now, it will likely become your responsibility. You can gear them up for pet ownership by encouraging responsible behaviors such as respecting boundaries, sharing and caring for others.
Proceed at turtle pace.
Your kiddo is just grasping the skills necessary to be a responsible pet owner. It sounds like it’s time for a trial run! Think carefully about the animal most fitting for your child’s temperament and your lifestyle. If you’d like a dog or a cat, consider breeds known to be especially patient with children, and consider fostering before adopting to make sure they’re a good fit for the family.
Hop to it!
Your kiddo sounds more than ready for the responsibility of taking care of a pet. Use this as an opportunity to teach important life skills from day one. Do some research together to find a pet that’s a good fit for your family’s home and lifestyle. Fostering before adopting is a great trial run, if possible. And don’t forget to reward good behavior — your pet’s and your child’s — with special treats every now and then.
Take more fun quizzes and brush up on pet care tips on our blog.