How A Family Pet Can Benefit Your Kids

Welcoming a four- (or two-) legged friend to the family can have developmental benefits for your kids


 

For most kids, having a pet is a rite of passage. It doesn’t matter if it is a fluffy puppy or a scaly snake, having a pet offers a child companionship and a constant friend. On top of having a built-in buddy, pets also offer a few other developmental benefits to a growing child.

Let’s Get Physical

Pets are a great excuse to get kids moving. Walking your dog, playing with your cat or riding your horse are great ways to use a pet to help keep your kids physically active. Small motor skills can be developed by letting kids take over some of the smaller tasks associated with caring for a pet. Let them sprinkle the fish food on the top of bowl or pour water into the hamster’s dish. Make sure to keep an eye on your children to ensure their safety, as well as your pet’s safety.

A Self Confidence Boost!

Research shows that kids with pets have higher self-esteem than those without. It is linked to the fact that they have a wonderful little creature who loves them unconditionally, who they love their pet right back! Plus, they always have someone to hang out with and even chat to if they need it. (Remember, every pet is a built-in buddy!)

Making Kids Responsible

As kids age, they will need to take on more accountability for their pet and this, in turn, helps them become responsible. It is essential for the child’s and pet’s well-being that the responsibility is age appropriate. A three-year-old can help fill food bowls, but should to be expected to walk a dog or clean up the pet’s living space. Give each child a daily task associated with the family pet to keep them involved and help them feel accountable for the pet.

Private Tutor

Calling a pet your child’s “private tutor” may be a bit of a stretch, but studies have shown that new readers benefit from reading out loud to a pet. Kids feel more comfortable reading to a non-judgemental, loyal companion. So, put a book in your reluctant reader’s hands and watch as reading to Fido or Fiffy helps them blossom into confident readers!

Allergy Reducer

For a long time it was believed that kids’ allergies would get worse when exposed to pets like dogs and cats because of their dander. But recent studies show that the exact opposite is true; children with pets have less severe allergies throughout life. Having pets around during childhood allows kids to build up a natural defense to the dander, resulting in less severe allergies in adulthood.

Having a pet has a lot of ups and downs for a family. It can sometimes be difficult to ensure children commit to caring for their furry/fuzzy/feathered/scaly friend. It becomes frustrating when, as the parent, you become the one caring for the pet your kids wanted so desperately. But the benefits of growing up around a pet outweigh the negatives. Also, pets are said to help reduce stress, so when you are stuck walking the dog (yet again), try to remember Fido is lowering your blood pressure while also helping your kids in so many ways!

 

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