Pets can teach you patience and care

A fixed-odds gambling machine Picture: Daniel Hambury/PA Wire

NEWS COMMENT: A move in the right direction but still not a win for all

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My oldest daughter Caitlin turns three in August.

Now it’s only a few months away, I’m already starting to think about what sort of gift we can buy for her, a change in direction for me as in the past I’ve been known to leave things until the last minute.

But what do you buy a three-year-old?

My first thought was some kind of toy. She’s really into Fireman Sam at the moment (yes, she finally got tired of Peppa Pig) so my first thought was some kind of Sam-related toy.

A quick look at an online store and I’ve already found potential gifts related to the TV show – like a deluxe fire station.

But I know if I did buy her one of these she’d probably only play with it a handful of times and, anyway, she’s already got far too many toys that I trip over on a daily basis.

Put them together with the toys that belong to our youngest daughter, Alyssa, and I think we’re now at full capacity.

I suppose we could buy her some new clothes. But I remember there being a huge anti-climax when I was a kid and I’d rip open the wrapping paper to be greeted by...a jumper. Clothes just aren’t exciting for kids.

I’d compare the feeling to opening a birthday card when you’re a child and not having money fall out. Secretly, it’s disappointing.

Another idea that I’ve had is to buy her a pet.

We’ve already got our Springer Spaniel Ralph. But it would be nice to have a pet that Caitlin could call her own.

I had pets when I was younger, mostly hamsters and rabbits, and I really believe it taught me good lessons in how to be responsible.

I think a rabbit would be a good first pet for Caitlin. I’m hoping that if she was responsible for feeding and watering her pet each day, and also cleaning it out (of course with help from mummy and daddy), this would teach her discipline.

As you’ll know if you have a pet, they don’t always do what you want them to do, so maybe this would teach Caitlin patience.

And I think the best traits to be learnt from looking after a pet are kindness and attentiveness.

Obviously we run the risk of Caitlin losing interest in the rabbit and leaving all the work to myself and Serena.

Which, I admit, I occasionally did when I was younger.

But if I keep it fun, give her encouragement and show a lot of interest myself, I’m sure this won’t happen.

And Caitlin won’t be the only one to benefit.

The rabbit will also have a loving home.

And maybe it will convince Caitlin to start eating her carrots.