Children And Pets: Forming Healthy Relationships
Safety, bonding and responsibility of children are all issues of concern for many parents who are considering adopting a pet.
When a family decides to adopt a pet, whether it be a cat, a dog, or a lizard, many factors must be taken into consideration. These include how safe the particular type of pet is around children of various ages (as well as how safe the pet is in the company of a young child), how much responsibility the children will be expected to take on in regards to caring for the new pet, and how to form a healthy bond between the pet and the children.
One of the most important considerations is whether or not the pet is appropriate for not only the age, but also the maturity level of the child. Obviously a vicious pit bull and a two-year old would not be a smart combination. But there are other, more subtle elements that must be assessed as well. For example, some small children, and others with behavioral problems, may be more of a threat to the pet than the pet is to them. Children with a tendency to harm pets should obviously not be around them, but many experts also suggest that they seek some form of therapy.
In regards to responsibility issues, many experts recommend that a contract be drawn up between the children and the parents that outlines the specific duties for which the kids must be responsible. Feeding, walking, and simply giving love and attention to the pet should all be “part of the deal”. Financial responsibility usually lies in the hands of the parents, since feeding, licensing grooming and medically treating animals can be quite a costly venture.
While most children happily accept a new pet into their homes and their lives, there are certain children (mostly younger ones) who are either frightened of the animal, or simply do not seem to show any interest in it. This is especially true in the case of toddlers, and it resembles the type of reaction children of this age typically have to accepting a new sibling. By demonstrating to the child that there is no reason to be afraid, as well as showing that the pet is not a threat to the family’s love for the child, parents can help a natural and healthy bond form between the original family and its newest member.
Overall, the adoption of a pet is considered to be a positive and healthy experience for a child. Pets can provide children with companionship, responsibility, comfort and a lot of fun. The most important thing that parents must do is to gather all of the information possible on how certain pets relate to children, and then make an educated decision.