Pets can teach children a lot, but there is also a lot that goes into deciding what pet would suit your child. More importantly, you will need a pet that suits your lifestyle. For example, a dog might not be the best option for households who have no one around for a majority of the day. Instead, look into guinea pigs or fish.
Luckily, we’ve got plenty of options for you to choose from. Take a look at our picks to see what pets would suit you and your family best.
You don’t need us to tell you that dogs are incredibly loving, which is why they make great pets, but that goes doubly for children. They will have a friend for life, which teaches them compassion, offers support, raises levels of serotonin and dopamine so they’re happier, and a whole host of other benefits.
Dogs are also the go-to pet because it will teach kids responsibility. They have a pet that they can very much see will be affected if they don’t look after them right. It’s called “puppy dog eyes” for a reason. Plus, having that support coupled with knowing that they are capable of handling the responsibility of a dog will result in a child that is a lot more confident. Find out more information from Native Pet here.
A cat is a great option if you like idea of instilling compassion and responsibility in your children, but a dog is simply not a practical option. If the house is empty due to the kids being at school and the adults being at work, a cat might be a better option. There will be no separation anxiety here. They will miss you but won’t stress while you’re away.
But you can still get those responsibility lessons in with cleaning up after your cat, feeding it, and giving it as much love as it needs to thrive.
The main drawback from getting a caged animal is usually the noise. A lot of them are nocturnal, so while you’re trying to get some shut eye, you can hear the knocking of the wheel turning in the cage and endless squeaking. Not so, with rabbits. They can be incredibly quiet. This will be useful if you live in a tight spot, like an apartment or with neighbors through the wall.
Plus, they don’t need as much space as you would expect. They are active in the mornings and evenings, when it is best to let them roam about and get some exercise, but ultimately, they’re fine in their hutch.
However, they do need walked every day, which means your kids will learn some of the lessons a dog can give: routine, responsibility, etc. while combining it with the lessons of a hamster: how to be gentle, how to socialize, etc.
Guinea pigs are often seen as the step up from a hamster. You’ve handled the fish, upgraded to a hamster, and now you can get a guinea pig.
They do make a great option for children because they are very gentle and social creatures. They become attached to their owners and will get excited when they hear their owners voice.
What is particularly useful to kids is that they are easy to look after, but they need to establish boundaries. What little there is of maintaining their healthy lifestyle is strict, so your children will learn that they cannot, in fact, skip on replacing the water because they haven’t drunk it all. But because there isn’t much to it, you don’t have to do all the heavy lifting.
Guinea pigs do need space to roam about however, which can make for a nice moment between your pet and your child while they let them exercise in the garden or floor. In fact, you can get them to engage in some construction and make little obstacle courses out of things around the house, like kitchen rolls.
Hamsters, gerbils, chinchillas, etc.
Smaller rodent pets, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice, rats, chinchillas, etc. offer a lot of benefits. However, don’t take this guide as a one size fits all approach. They each have their own nuances. For example, hamsters don’t like company, and will often fight if they’re kept in the same cage. This means you’ll have to invest in another cage if your second child wants a hamster too.
They’ve all got different financial obligations too, at least up front. Common hamsters are going to cost less than a chinchilla, for example. Mainly due to the fact that they only have a lifespan of 2 years, whereas a chinchilla can live anywhere between 10-15 years.
Smaller pets like these need a gentle hand, which means you can teach your kids not to be the George of George and Lennie and how to approach life. It will come in handy when they next come across a dog or baby. However, chinchillas are also very affectionate, and trainable, so your child will have plenty of time to get to know their new pet.
Indoor birds offer something that dogs and cats simply cannot: spoken social interaction. You might talk to your dog, and they might respond, but a bird will greet you at the door. They will say thank you for dinner and say any number of crazy things that you won’t see coming.
Plus, birds that “talk” are really imitating you, so you can imagine the hilarity of hearing one with your accent.
It’s definitely something that can help the mind, especially if you’re in a home with not a lot of interaction throughout the day. A bit of social interaction would stop you from going crazy, and benefit interaction for the wider world.
There is a daunting initial cost that might cause you to raise your eyebrows, but once that’s done, you’ve got a low maintenance pet that gets exercise not by walks, but by letting loose in the house, goes to sleep at night, and are a friendly addition to the home.
Fish are a very low maintenance pet. Once you’ve got everything in place, it’s a matter of feeding them, keeping their tank clean, and otherwise leaving them to it. This means that you don’t have to worry about school or work getting in the way of you getting a pet.
However, this does come with the initial drawback that there is a decent up-front cost. If you want something more exotic than a fairground goldfish, you might have to save up. But they still come out as less than a non-rescue dog or cat would be. And then there is the cost of the tank. The good thing here is that it’s a sliding scale. You can buy the one fish and a small tank, or lots of fish and a bigger tank.
They are particularly good for kids with autism, ADHD, or sleeping issues, all for the same reason: it calms them down. Your child will sleep better with the gently bubbling and smoothly gliding fish nearby. You can get the biOrb fish tank that aids kids with autism to reduce anxiety and improve their speech, simply by watching the fish swim.
Plus, having a fish tank can allow your child to indulge in some creativity. They can make buildings and decorations for the fish to swim around. And having a fish is said to improve productivity, so you might even see your kids working harder at their homework.