The Five “W’s” of Getting Children Their First Pet
Traditionally, when journalism is taught, instructors want their future reporters always to convey the five “W’s” found inside of any great story: “Who, What, When, Where and Why (along with an “H” for how). Getting your child their first pet also comes with answers to these important questions. As far as the “H” goes, you should always consider a shelter or rescue organization for “how” to get an animal.
WHO would be you and your family, unless you are considering going through a breeder. But remember, this choice often promotes “puppy mills” and other unscrupulous reproductive and storage practices. So make sure that whoever (and wherever) you’re shopping for a pet are reputable and reliable sources.
Who also includes the person(s) in your family that will be caring for the little critter, be it a canine, feline or another type of an animal. This includes feeding, cleaning, exercise and an extensive list of other responsibilities. Make sure to discuss these important tasks and ensure they’re being accomplished once the newest member of the family arrives and settles into your routine.
WHAT kind of kind of pet you ultimately get will depend entirely on you, your family and many other unique circumstances. There are many choices to consider: dogs and cats, rodents and reptiles, and many other options for a pet.
For example, if you choose a canine, will you opt for a larger, more family-friendly dog, like a Golden Retriever or Labrador? Sometimes smaller breeds of dogs are more appropriate in some less-than-large living situations. Be sure to do your homework when it comes choosing some of these tinier terriers since some of them aren’t very kid-friendly.
WHEN you bring a new animal into your household is another important decision and careful consideration to weigh. For some families, they may already have an existing pet when they bring home an infant. Others need to consider the age(s) of the children in their household when choosing an appropriate pet.
According to medical research from John Hopkins, the sooner, the better for this type of interaction to take place for youngsters, especially infants. Studies have shown that infants exposed to pet dander, other types of animal and other allergens are less likely to develop asthma, allergies and other respiratory problems later in life.
WHERE: As discussed previously, a shelter or rescue group should at least be considered, but we can also pose the question about the “where” the animal’s place is within your household. Their sleeping quarters, the place where they will be fed and watered should be decided well in advance of their arrival.
It should be where this animal will be the most comfortable, but also in a location that doesn’t interfere with other family members and general day-to-day traffic. These locations should be considered to be a constant and not changed once the animal arrives home since this could alienate and confuse them when they’re attempting to transition into this new life with your family.
WHY: While most parents consider getting a family pet will teach their children various important lessons, like the circle of life and being responsible for another living creature. But there are other important reasons why getting an animal could benefit young humans.
Bonding with an animal helps kids to develop social skills, even though these critters don’t speak back to them using words. Kids eventually understand that there’s always someone there for them, including their parents when they bond with a pet.
Considering all of the five “W’s” when thinking about bringing an animal into your children’s lives, maybe the most important question should be, why not?
Cassie Brewer lives in Southern California. In her free time, she enjoys writing about her passion (healthy living of course!). Nothing makes her happier than helping others be the best version of themselves they can be. You can follow her on twitter @Cassiembrewer