Many families have pets, whether that pet is a cat, a dog or something smaller like a hamster, and often, the pet becomes as dear to the family as its own members. As well as unconditional love, a pet brings much more with it, qualities that are of particular benefit to children.
Companionship and confidence
The first and perhaps most desirable quality a pet brings to the family is one of companionship. This is of great importance if your child appears to find it difficult to make friends with his or her peers. Having a pet in the family gives a child something to talk about with schoolmates and acquaintances, as all children love to hear about how cute a cat or dog is and what they get up to. A child can also find great comfort in an animal’s company when they became angry, frightened or sad, for a dog or cat does not question or demand responses in the same way an adult or older sibling might.
A family pet can also help your child to learn, not just in terms of conventional education but also in life skills and morality. For example, a child may feel encouraged to read by deciding to read aloud to their pet whereas they might feel intimidated by reading aloud to an adult. A child can also learn about responsibility when owning a pet, especially if the child is told they have to be the prime carer for the animal. Understanding that a pet’s health will be compromised if the child does not remember to feed and clean up after them, as well as exercising them if necessary, is a valuable lesson in being responsible that will stay with them into adulthood. Our pets, especially if they leave the home, also need regular maintenance to stay healthy and so we must remember to buy flea tablets for our dogs, and this is perhaps something that your child could be responsible for remembering.
Talking of exercising animals, a dog presents a great opportunity to get sedentary kids up and off the sofa and engaging in a physical activity that is fun rather than a chore. If your child is too young to walk your family dog alone, they can always accompany you on your dog walking. They can even get exercise simply by taking the dog out into the garden and playing a ball game.
Apart from the extensive emotional benefits of having a pet in the family, they can also help to build up your child’s immune system. Exposing a child from an early age to the bacteria all animals play host to can result in fewer sicknesses and a more robust immune system. Studies also suggest that the simple act of petting an animal lowers stress levels.
Owning a pet can bring great benefit to your child in terms of their emotional, physical and educational development, as well as the joy the animal can bring you.