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Pets and Preschoolers: Perks of Owning a Pet for Your Child

If your child is old enough to go to preschool, it is likely the right time to introduce a pet to the family. Young children can learn a lot from taking care of a pet, but make sure it is something that they are ready to commit to. Nurturing and caring for an animal can also play a role in helping young preschoolers reach important developmental milestones.

Every child is different, but consider the following benefits of pet ownership.

Fosters a sense of responsibility. Children can get a sense of worth and responsibility by taking care of a pet's needs. This is why many classrooms, daycare centers, and preschools have on-site animals for the children to assist in tending. While some children may not be ready for the rigors of a puppy, there are some pet options that require a bit less time and commitment, such as the following.

  • A cat. Cats are independent and typically require less care than a dog. They are also astute companion animals that can foster compassion in children.
  • A bird. Birds are fascinating and relaxing to watch and require less work than four-legged animals often do. Teach your child the right way to handle birds before adopting one.
  • Reptiles. Turtles and snakes are often the right pet for a child. Make sure your child is aware that this could be a life-long commitment, as reptiles usually live a long time.
  • Fish. You may want to start your child out with a low-maintenance pet like a fish. Plus, keeping an aquarium is a rewarding job that can be quite interesting to observe.

Instills a sense of purpose. Getting up and taking care of a pet can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment to a child. This is important as they develop their own identity and get acclimated to a schedule attending school or daycare.

Contributes to personal autonomy. Pet ownership can instill identity and independence in your preschooler. Having a pet makes your child unique, and that can make them more autonomous in all areas of their life.

Provides companionship and unconditional love. Perhaps the most compelling reason to adopt a pet is the companionship that they provide. Children with pets have the unconditional love and friendship that is key in growing up and that may help them become less introverted and more socialized later on.

Ask your child's daycare provider or teacher about their interactions with any classroom pets to determine your child's level of interest in adopting an animal. Pets can be an enriching part of growing up and helps children reach developmental milestones. Consider these reasons why opening your home to a pet is a great thing for your preschool-aged child. You can also talk to professionals like those at Kid's Country Child Care & Learning Center to see whether they can provide you with information about your child's development level that will help you choose an appropriate pet.