Pets were an essential part of my childhood.
I had a cat for a while, a guinea pig until I let it escape one too many times, a gecko until I let it escape once, and finally, a dog that lasted me the rest of my childhood.
While most adults my age use our furry friends as a replacement for having children, pets are still just as important once you do finally start a family.
Children and pets benefit each other in a multitude of ways, and we’ll give you all the reasons below.
1. Pets Teach Empathy
A pet is completely dependent on you for food, shelter, and attention. Caring for a pet teaches your child empathy, because the child learns to look out for that pet’s needs.
Empathy is an important social skill that can actually be taught and is vital for the good of humankind.
By learning to sense when your pet needs food or water, or when it needs to be comforted from a traumatic experience, your child can learn how to do the same for humans later in life.
2. Pets Relieve Stress
When no human will listen to you, your pet will.
Stress may seem like a plague of adulthood, but children can experience stress as well, they just can’t communicate it as well. Pets don’t need you to tell them they’re stressed, they can sense it.
The simple act of petting an animal can calm the nerves and relieve stress, no matter the animal. Whether dogs, cats or rabbits — as long as it has fur, it’ll relieve your child’s stress.
Dogs and cats specifically can also help reduce stress by playing with them.
Playing fetch with a dog or teasing a cat with a toy provides a mindless distraction from whatever is eating at your mind. And not only does it help your child, but it also helps exercise the pet at the same time, so it’s a win for everyone!
3. Children and Pets Socialize With Each Other
Sometimes it’s difficult to put your child in social situations.
Maybe you don’t have friends with children, or your neighborhood isn’t child-friendly. Pets can act as somewhat of a substitute for having a sibling, or other children around.
Kids and pets are similar in that they have to communicate without using words.
They play together and use eye contact and touch as a means to express how they’re feeling. This helps your child develop social skills before they’re forced into the human social experience.
Additionally, when your child does find himself in tough social situations (we all have awful friends) your pet is always going to be there for your child.
Pets aren’t caught up in social circles or meaningless drama. A pet is there for your child unconditionally.
4. Pets Encourage Children to Exercise
The United States of America, along with many other countries, is taking steps to address the growing concern of childhood obesity.
Unhealthy diets and a lack of exercise is causing children to develop health problems early in development that could last a lifetime. While a pet may not help with the unhealthy diet (that’s up to you, parents) it can certainly help with the lack of exercise.
Playing with a pet is fun.
I loved being chased around the yard by my dog, and while I was always an active child, having my dog around certainly increased my active hours. I also loved chasing my cat around the house, although I can’t confirm or deny if my cat also enjoyed it.
Regardless, it still kept me active throughout the day.
5. Having a Pet Teaches Children Responsibility
Having a pet is a responsibility.
In addition to companionship, it’s one of the biggest reasons adults without children have pets as an alternative. Being responsible for a living creature is beneficial in a multitude of ways, and it’s good to teach that to your children.
Younger children can learn responsibility by being responsible for feeding your pets at certain times, learning the importance of scheduling and being on time.
Older children can even help in the selection of pet care items, such as what food to use, or what pet health care products are necessary. This teaches them the importance of research and financial responsibility.
Sites such as Small Pet Select can help children learn about products and care for your smaller furry friends, with products like grooming supplies and timothy hay for sale. No matter whether you have a little rabbit or guinea pig or a big old dog, it’s important for your kids to learn how to care for them.
6. Pets Can Be Used as Therapy
In addition to all the important developmental skills that pets can help teach your children, they can actually be used to improve the health of your child as well.
Service dogs are an obvious example of how animals can help someone with a physical handicap, but now service dogs are being used to help treat PTSD as well.
Children who have suffered traumatic experiences such as sexual or physical abuse can greatly benefit from having a pet. Petting a dog helps release Oxytocin, also known as the “love hormone” which gives the person a sense of companionship, empathy, and trust.
Service animals are also being used to help treat autism as well.
Autistic children often struggle to develop the skills mentioned above and having a pet can be beneficial for those social developments.
Other Ways to Help Your Children
By now I hope we’ve convinced you that children and pets are beneficial for each other, and you should consider bringing a pet into your home.
However, we know that pets aren’t for everyone. Some people don’t feel comfortable with animals around their children, or simply just don’t like having pets.
If you’re looking for other ways to improve your family life, you’re in the right place.
That’s what this blog is all about. From managing finances to improving health to fun recipes for the whole family, we have it all.
Check back so we can help you accomplish your New Year’s resolution to take your family to the next level. We’re here to help.