If your children are begging for a pet but you are on the fence because of all the work involved, you may want to consider all the amazing benefits that pets can bring to your family. Scientific research shows that pets can have a profound positive impact on children. In fact, children’s physical, social, emotional, and cognitive development can improve when they interact with a family pet. Here are some ways that pets can play a positive role in your children’s lives.
Provide Comfort and Companionship
Pets of all different shapes and sizes are important for children to feel a sense of comfort and companionship, especially those struggling with emotional issues like anxiety and depression. Having a pet provides helpful coping skills for children by alleviating loneliness and isolation, and other emotions they are struggling with. A study published in The Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found evidence that children turn to their pets for comfort, reassurance, and emotional support. Children find security and comfort in having a pet that is always there for them to play with and hug. Sometimes children have trouble connecting with other children or even adults, which is why a family pet can be beneficial since they find it easier to bond with an animal. Plus, pets are nonjudgmental and supportive, providing a safe space for children to express themselves.
Many children struggle with low self-esteem, which can lead to other issues. Fortunately, pets can help build a child’s confidence, which ultimately will make them happier. According to a report from the Pet Health Council, kids with pets have higher self-esteem and confidence because they talk to, or confide in, the animal in ways that they would not do with people. Interacting with pets in this way also gives kids a chance to practice social skills. Additionally, experts have found that children who own pets have better social interaction with their peers since a pet gives them something to talk about with other kids their age.
The best time for a child to have a pet to help build self-esteem is under age six. Dogs and cats are considered to be the ideal types of pets to provide social support since they offer a greater level of interaction and reciprocation than other animals.
Owning a pet also gives children a chance to learn how to be responsible. Simple tasks like walking the dog, cleaning up the birdcage, bathing or brushing a furry pet, or filling a food bowl can instill a sense of ownership and accomplishment in a child. Approximately 58 percent of pet owners claim that their pets have helped their kids to be more responsible, according to a survey by the American Pet Product Association. Just keep in mind that even the most responsible children can make mistakes. If your children forget to take care of the family pet, ask why this happened, explain how their action impacts the animal, and work together to come up with a plan so that it does not happen again.
Taking care of a pet also helps children develop empathy. Because kids are naturally focused on their own wants and needs, a pet that depends on them can have a huge impact on broadening their perspective on how to care for others. One thing you can do is ask your
children to pay attention to your pet’s mood and observe if it seems sad or sick. This will teach them how to be sympathetic to others’ feelings and needs (both animals and humans). They can also use these skills to participate in volunteer projects to help animals, such as a local animal shelter, nature center, or zoo.
Believe it or not, pets like dogs and cats can also help children learn more effectively. For many years, dogs have been used as a therapy tool in schools for children with developmental disabilities. They also help children improve their reading skills. A study conducted on second graders showed that children who read aloud to a dog had better reading skills than children who read out loud to an adult. Researchers believe that this was because the child was less stressed with a dog since it provides nonjudgmental support and comfort.
Another incredible benefit of children being around a pet is that they can help prevent allergies and obesity. Pets are often to blame for allergies, but a recent study conducted at the University of Alberta in Canada revealed that exposure to furry pets at a young age can actually safeguard children against both allergies and obesity. This is possible because immunity builds up naturally as infants are exposed to the dirt and bacteria from the pet’s fur and paws, even if parents only had the pet while the mother was pregnant.
Children love pets, and you can get them excited to be around pets by dressing them in one of our many adorable animal collections.