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Unexpected benefits of getting a pet for your child

Posted by Scott Stueber, CPCU, CISR, AAI on Dec 17, 2019 10:00:10 AM

Benefits of pets for your child

If you’re reading this blog, chances are your child has asked you for a pet, or your family is considering getting one. 

You’re also probably aware of the commitment that’s required when raising a pet. If not, you might want to check out our previous blog, "Eight things to consider when your child asks for a pet" as it emphasizes lifestyle changes and household damages as part of being a pet owner.

While many families may be scared of how much effort and money it takes to care for a pet, there’s no denying its benefits on your child’s wellbeing. Here are a few reasons why having a pet can benefit your child.

It gets kids moving. If you’re considering getting a dog, you must take it on frequent walks. PetMD states that all dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise daily, regardless of size. You can let your children accompany you while you walk your dog, or let them walk the dog on their own if they’re old enough. Frequent walks also have the bonus of giving your kids some time away from technology.

Teaches responsibility. Having a pet is an excellent opportunity to teach your kids how to be responsible and take ownership. Whether it’s bathing their pet or ensuring their meals are prepared on time, you should involve your children as much as possible when raising your new furry friend. You could also have your little ones rely on their older siblings as an example, especially if you give your children tasks they can manage independently.

Reduces stress and anxiety. There’s a lot to be said about the physical presence of a pet. From cuddling your pet to playing with it, these interactions can go a long way in keeping stress at bay. Clinical psychologists at Maryville University have discovered a connection between mental health and learning development, which is even more apparent as children grow up. Simply put, if you aren't in the proper mental state, it's harder to progress in life — more so if you're a child in your developmental years. That being said pets can be highly therapeutic. If your child is having a particularly rough time at school or dealing with a significant change, having a pet as a support system can help your child overcome these challenges.

It helps develop social skills. Having pets at home could improve your child’s social skills. A study by the University of Missouri shows this is especially true for children with autism. They found that autistic children were more likely to be more socially responsive if a pet was present. While the study finds that dogs may be more effective, researchers emphasize that any pet — fish, cats, birds, and the like — yielded the same result. This makes having a pet an excellent addition to the family, especially for parents with timid children.

Builds empathy. Empathy is a skill that can be developed through practice, and rest assured that your children will get lots of practice with a pet around. Pets are wholly dependent on the care that you give them, which means that your children learn to anticipate their pet’s needs. Your child will also become attuned to your pet’s personality, learning to read your furry friend’s little quirks.

Author Bio: Lifestyle and culture blogger JBartholome believes that it's every parent and guardian's duty to find new ways of helping children develop into smart, healthy, and emphatic adults. When she's not researching trends in formal and informal education, she loves spending her free time outdoors with her husband, their two kids, and Ashley, the family's energetic, mischievous, and charming 4-year-old German Shepherd.

Topics: Health Tips, Pet Safety

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