Keeping pets can be a great way of giving kids responsibility, as well as offering new opportunities for play, interaction and learning, but it’s important to choose wisely.
Take advantage of any information sources you can find. Talk to friends with animals about their experiences and have a look online or in the library for information on the pet you are considering.
You also have to ask yourself is my child ready for a pet? Having a pet requires a lot of commitment. It’s not just about having something to cuddle; there is also the responsibility of feeding, cleaning and, in some cases, exercising another living thing. When considering a pet, take into account that a lot of the looking after will be done by the adults, no matter how determined the children. Try not to get tempted by the idea of a pet without realising that most of the practical stuff - cleaning out cages, taking dogs for walks, etc - will be done by you!
That said, having to look after a pet even a little is good life training - it teaches children about responsibility and the importance of good nutrition and cleanliness. If you are sure your child will be willing to play some active role in looking after their new pet in the long term then you may find they pick up some good experience along the way.
If you want to read more on children and pets, and the other things to think about before you commit, then see the article I have posted on www.mimitoys.ie/playarticles