5 Reasons to Let Her Get a Pet

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“Moooom? Daaad? Anyone? Can I get a pet? I promise I’ll take care of it!”

Sound familiar?

Even if your girl hasn’t started pleading for a puppy, a kitten, or even a mouse, chances are, she will soon. The truth is that while pets are fun and exciting, they’re also a huge, often years-long commitment. Just like any other member of your household, they’ll need care and love, plus healthy food to eat, exercise, and regular doctor’s visits. Unlike other members of your household (one hopes!) they also need to be cleaned up after in a more, well, shall we say hands-on way.  If your family isn’t able to provide any one of those things, you should probably think twice about getting a pet. That said? If you’ve got the time and resources to add a furry (or scaly or winged!) friend to your crew, know that helping to raise a pet can have major benefits for your daughter as long as she’s mature enough to handle it. (One good indicator is whether or not she can pour herself a bowl of cereal. If she can, she can also feed the dog!) Learn about all the ways getting a pet can help your daughter be her best—and then think about heading to the local shelter. Your daughter’s new BFF is waiting!

  1. It’ll teach her responsibility
    Having another creature (even a fish!) depend on her for very basic things like food will help her understand the need to sometimes put others’ needs before her own.
  2. Her empathy will grow
    Understanding that her kitten didn’t mean to knock over her jewelry box (oops!), will bring her one step closer to understanding and empathizing with people in her life who mess up sometimes.
  3. Animals spark curiosity
    How do fish breathe underwater? Why does her hamster like to be awake at night? Can cats really see in the dark? When she gets to know her pet—whichever species it may be!—she’ll have all sorts of questions that can spark an interest in science and nature.
  4. Pets reduce stress
    In today’s day, even kindergarten can be nerve wracking, but you can help counterbalance life’s stresses by getting a pet. Studies show that pet owners are calmer and more relaxed than non-pet owners!
  5. She’ll be her most confident self
    She’ll be proud to be a new pet owner, and knowing she can take care of her new friend will make her feel like she can conquer all kinds of other new challenges, too!

This article originally appeared on GirlScouts.org.