Most households have pets – cats, dogs, birds and other tame and friendly animals. Having pets give us happiness, unconditional love, companionship and better health. However, many couples choose to forego having pets when babies come. But, keeping Fido and Fluffy or taking up the opportunity of adopting a shelter dog or giving a home to a stray kitten are greatly beneficial – for your child, your home and for the animals.
Raising Responsible and Happy Kids with Pets
A childhood spent with adorable pets is a happy one. Aside from the joy and fun pets shower its human owners and caretakers, they also provide companionship to young and growing children and positively influence their emotional, mental, social and physical growth.
- Pets are your one of child’s first friends
Before your kids wander and socialise outside of the home, they first develop relationships and socialisation at home. Dogs, cats, chicken and even ducks are social animals. Pets serve as your child’s first friends. This is especially true for firstborns and solo children. Children who grew up with pets are more socially mature and confident.
- Pets provide comfort and companionship
Pets, especially cats and dogs are known to be loyal companions. Their presence alone provides security and comfort to a child. Many firsts – first night to sleep in his own bedroom, the first day of school or first day for swimming lessons, becomes easier and more bearable when they have pets. Dogs are known to offer comfort stressed human companions. Cuddling and petting cats help calm and relax agitated kids. Children and even adults find it easier and comforting to talk to their pets than to other people.
- Taking care of pet teaches the values of responsibility and nurturing
Having pets comes with the responsibility of its care. Children as young as four or five years old can already be taught how to care for their pet. The pets’ regular feedings, brushing, care and play time can already be trusted to a child. Parents will still need to help with the more difficult tasks like bathing, litter box management and food preparation. Knowing someone – a pet, to care for will teach the essence of responsibility and encourage the caring and nurturing nature of your child.
- Pets encourage learning
Children who are struggling with reading and learning get a boost of confidence from their pets. Because of the non-judgemental companionship offered by their animal friends, shy and nervous children are encouraged to make the effort to learning. The popular ‘reading to pets’ program brings school children to shelters. The initiative has resulted to happier and more relaxed pets and improved reading, communication skills and comprehension amongst kids.
- Having pets help develop self-esteem in children
Having a pet is like having a younger sibling. Somebody to care for, play with and boss around! Most importantly, it is having somebody to love and unconditionally loves right back that gives a huge boost to self-esteem, confidence and cheerfulness.
- Pets teach love and empathy
Pets are not just any animals in the house, they are family. They are loved and cared for just like anybody else in the house. Having your own pet gives you the responsibility and the ultimate bond of love with a living creature. Children with pets learn to be gentle, caring and emphathic at a very young age. They are also more likely to grow into loving, thoughtful and caring adults.
- Pets provide a common bond in the family
Unless you have twins, your family mostly likely have children from different age groups, with different interests, maturity levels and friends. Quarrels and clashes are very common amongst families with young children. Pets can provide the common bond and a peaceful and diplomatic element to the family.
- Pets help keep kids active and healthy
One of the benefits of having dogs for pets is the more active lifestyle they bring with them. Dogs are naturally playful and frisky and they would encourage their humans to be the same. Even cats need some playtime. Playing, walking and entertaining your pets lead to more action animated play and healthier bodies. Children exposed to animals also develop stronger immunities against common ailments and allergies. Kids with pets are generally healthier, more playful, imaginative, and spirited.
Support your child’s young and formative years. Getting a pet might mean more work and expense for the family, but the benefits your child can derive from having a constant loving companion outweighs the downsides. Parents also need to be responsible when giving their child a pet. Teach the child how to care for his or her animal friend, provide the necessary pet health care and accessories and prepare your child for the work and fun ahead. Give medications if necessary and dress them up in comfortable clothes and footwear for playtime.
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