If you’re reading this blog, chances are your child has either 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 things like 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 the benefits it can have on your child’s wellbeing. Here are a few reasons why having a pet can be beneficial for your child.
Gets kids moving
If you’re thinking about getting a dog, you need to take it on frequent walks. PetMD states that all dogs need at least 30 minutes of exercise a day, regardless of their size. You can either decide to let your children accompany you while you walk your dog, or let your children walk the dog on their own if they’re old enough. Frequent walks also have the added bonus of giving your kids some time away from technology.
Having a pet is a great opportunity to teach your kids how to be responsible and take ownership. Whether it’s giving their pet a bath or ensuring that their meals are prepared on time, you should look to involve your children as much as possible when it comes to 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 that they can manage on their own.
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 are growing up. Simply put, if you aren't in the proper mental state, then 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 big change, having a pet as a support system can help your child overcome these challenges.
Helps develop social skills
Having pets at home could improve your child’s social skills. A study by the University of Missouri shows that this is especially true for children with autism. They found that autistic children were more likely to be more socially responsive if a pet is present. While the study finds that dogs may be more effective in this regard, researchers emphasize that any kind of pet — fish, cats, birds, and the like — all yielded the same result. This makes having a pet a wonderful addition to the family especially, for parents with particularly shy children.
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.