If your chil­dren are desperate for a dog or han­ker­ing for a ham­ster, Emma can help you de­cide whether to oblige

Closer (UK) - - Well Being -

As a kid, I begged my A par­ents for a pet, but they flatly re­fused. Af­ter years of try­ing, my el­der sis­ter and I hatched a plan to re-home two un­wanted kit­tens in the garage. Our dad dis­cov­ered them and I was grounded for a few weeks, but even­tu­ally – af­ter see­ing what good care we’d taken of those kit­tens – my par­ents re­lented and cats Scrappy and Smudge be­came a part of our fam­ily.

Own­ing a pet is a big re­spon­si­bil­ity, and you may well wish to keep your home in or­der and avoid the end­less hours of groom­ing, ex­er­cis­ing and feed­ing. But if you’re con­sid­er­ing al­low­ing your kids to have their first pet, it’s worth know­ing that re­search sup­ports the idea. Chil­dren with pets tend to be less anx­ious and less over­weight. Boys who are brought up with dogs tend to be more emo­tion­ally well bal­anced.

While no par­ent wants their chil­dren to go through emo­tional dis­tress, los­ing a pet and deal­ing with grief can be ben­e­fi­cial, too, as it helps them come to terms with the im­per­ma­nence of life.

Own­ing a pet also gives a child a level of re­spon­si­bil­ity, and helps them to recog­nise the im­por­tance of com­mit­ment.

If you feel like your child doesn’t un­der­stand how much work own­ing a pet is, sug­gest they prove to you that they’re ready – whether that’s walk­ing a neigh­bour’s dog or sim­ply re­search­ing the work in­volved in keep­ing a pet.

Al­low­ing them an op­por­tu­nity to demon­strate com­mit­ment means they feel like you have given them a chance and, should they fail to keep up their end of the bar­gain, they will be aware of the con­se­quences.

Fi­nally, if you’re keen to add an an­i­mal to the fam­ily, be­fore you spend a for­tune buying a pedi­gree breed, go on­line and look at lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ters be­cause there are thou­sands of re­jected pets des­per­ately seek­ing their for­ever homes.

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