Stuffed Animal Fun
Stuffed Animals instead of (or as training for) Pets
There's no question that children love stuffed animals. But almost all kids will at some point ask their parents for a real animal, a pet. And unfortunately, not all parents are prepared to take on a pet, whether due to location or financial constraints, or simply because they don't want a pet. So how is a parent supposed to deal with the repeated requests of their kids to adopt a pet? The answer is of course simple: an aptly thought out and well presented stuffed animal.
Starting at age six or seven I begged my parents to get a cat. My grandmother and both my aunts had cats and I loved visiting them. I was an only child and I even tried to get my parents to adopt a cat by implying I was lonely since I didn't have any siblings to keep me company. This cat obsession went on for several years. At around age nine my parents gave me a special birthday present, a very realistic looking cat stuffed animal. Now it wasn't just that the stuffed animal looked a lot like a real cat. The stuffed animal looked like my Aunt's cat. Even though a stuffed animal cat wasn't exactly what I wanted, it did distract me for a long while.
If you know that at some point you plan to adopt a pet, you could present a similar stuffed animal to a kid citing it as something to tide him over until you get the real one. Although kids would generally prefer the real thing, an actual live pet, they are almost certain to be happy to receive such a cool stuffed animal.
Then, you could use the stuffed animal as a training tool for the new pet. Explain to the child that he needs to pretend the stuffed animal is a real pet and treat it as such. The child should pretend to feed, walk, and brush or clean the stuffed animal just as if it were a real pet. Stuffed animals are particularly useful to teach a kid how to properly hold a pet (so that the pet doesn't fall or get angry!). This stuffed animal technique can also work to show how to hold a new baby sister or brother.
There is obviously a statute of limitations on how well a stuffed animal will quench a child's desire for a pet, but it may distract them just long enough that they've moved onto a new obsession.