What are the best Pets for Kids? Pets, animals have unfortunately become living props. They are used to help kids ‘learn responsibility’. Absurd if you think about it. Here’s the premise: let’s take this kid, who cannot feed clothe or bathe itself and put it in charge of a life. What could go wrong??
The best pets to have at home are not always the pets we want. City living comes with space constraints. If you have a dog, questions to ask yourself- can you help your child walk the dog? Are you able to cook for and feed the dog? Therefore, the preferred pet depends on the time you have to invest in it’s care. And of course, money!
Animals are not teaching aids
Let’s move to school, your child spends more time in school than they do at home. Educators, a dependable and authority figure to your child are teaching by doing. The class pet, is the beginning of a life long conditioning for students. If you have a classroom gold fish swimming aimlessly around a bowl devoid of any stimulation or natural surrounding- what does that message to students?
Why fish? They’re silent, fish do not bark, crawl into the kitchen or jump out of their bowls! Forget to feed the goldfish and what can he/she really do? Swim in circles faster, come up against the bowl and telepathically beg for food? No it cannot, so it waits in silence for this little person, on whom responsibility has been heaped to care for it.
Unwittingly as parents and guardians we lay a foundation of attitudes and acceptance of an animals place in our lives and the world.
Glass bowls are homes only to captive fish. Streams, rivers, ponds, lakes and oceans are their natural habitat.
Would you use this experiment to teach kids?
We never use an ‘old person’ as a learning aid! Here’s an experiment, take old person into your classroom. Lay down obstacles on the floor. If kids in class fail to help them step over an obstacle, your live teaching aid falls down. Lesson learned in real time! Kids ‘see’ the consequences of their actions when the ‘old person’ teaching aid ends up with a broken hip! Of course, this sounds and is absurd, no sensible parent or teacher would approve. SO why is a goldfish or tortoise an acceptable teaching aid?
To make this ‘easy’ we choose a perceived ‘lesser’ form of life, which is mistaken for being low maintenance. Many a hapless goldfish have are sacrificed in this experiment.
In a world where messaging matters more than the message, our actions as adults have a greater impact than words. Cliched but true.
The silent pet
The carapace is perhaps one of the most abused animals to ‘teach responsibility”
They carry the world on their backs, somewhere in between aquatic and terrestrial. Face it, the tortoise or turtle, fascinate adults- how can we blame kids!
Have you ever done this? Leave the carapace to care for itself, place down a few greens and water bowl, go off for a weekend or couple of days. Magic- the animal is still alive when you’re back. Your child learns responsibility can take the weekend off!
Lizards as pets are one of the hardest to care for, they are sensitive to temperature, light, and need a specific diet. We love their expressions and personalities, but really these guys belong in their natural habitat. Not in a terrarium you got off Amazon, or even your local pet store.
Is it the place or function of a living being to be the subject of your parental experiment? Is really what we need to ask ourselves. We must teach children responsibility and consequences of actions. But when the responsibility is for a life, what consequences or punishment is appropriate?
WILD animals must never feature on your list of “low maintenance pets”!
Is your pet legal?
Hundreds of “exotic pets” are trafficked around the world to cater to this market of pet owners. Kids are not to blame if we teach them to ‘bend the rules’. Check with your local SPCA or animal shelter if you are unsure. But a good rule of thumb to follow- if it’s wild- it does not belong in your home! Apart from the additional care these animals need, it encourages trafficking. Hundreds if not thousands of these animals die when smuggled across borders.
The Technology Hack to teach Pet Care
Technology to the rescue set an alarm on a device, any device, every time the alarm rings, its time to walk, water or tend to the pet. Does it pass the one week or one month test? If it does, you’re probably on the path to responsible pet care. Time share pets like homes are not a good idea. Fostering animals may fill the void if you cannot keep a full time pet. (Please do not try and foster an animal as an experiment or to get through a holiday!)
Does Volunteering Help?
Let’s help young adults and children learn the value of caring of animals in their habitats. Responsible animal care in a real world environment creates memories and impressions for life long learning.
Volunteering, is a great yard stick. If your child can stick to volunteering for six months to a year and dedicate time to an f animal they know is not their pet, you’ve got a foundation.
Our take: teach responsibility on a non living object or through activity. Laundry, dishes, making a bed! Helping around the house. If dishes stay dirty, no one dies, if laundry goes undone- they do no have clean clothes! There are repercussions to leaving dirty dishes or undone laundry, but at least lives are not lost. Or worse a trial pet is not ‘surrendered’ to a an already overburdened rescue center.
Carapace representation and cover photo by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA from Pexels
Learning in nature photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels
Goldfish goals photo by MART PRODUCTION from Pexels
Thank you for helping us put visuals to words!