One look at their furry little faces and most people are smitten. There is something about dogs, cats, and other four-legged companions that give kids a sense of security and provide a calming presence to adults. So how are pets good for our kids? In addition to teaching them empathy, responsibility, and love, pets can make great friends and companions for children. Pets also show kids how to express love by petting, being gentle, hugging or kissing. Pets have been shown to help children overcome shyness, develop trust, and enhance their social skills. As if that wasn’t enough, science has shown that pets also offer health benefits to children. Several research papers state that infants that grow up with pets are less likely to develop asthma and allergies. In addition, animals have been proven to help with stress, anxiety, depression, autism, and other psychological issues.
But beyond the many benefits of having a pet, these domesticated animals also exemplify certain wisdom that we mere humans might do well to take notice of.
10 Reasons Why You Should Get Your Kid A Pet
Here are some life lessons that the furry pet sleeping on your couch is trying to teach your child.
1. To Be Responsible
Living with a pet offers several opportunities in everyday life that encourage responsible behaviour in children. Providing fresh food and water daily becomes an everyday ‘duty’ for kids and they fully understand that if they don’t remember to take care of their furry friends, they will go hungry. The fact that a pet is dependent on them boosts a child’s confidence in the process. Children as young as three years old can manage simple tasks such as filling the pet’s water and food bowls. As the child gets older, they can groom and walk the pet.
2. To Be Compassionate & Empathetic
Empathy is one skill that can be taught and pets play a helpful role in this. Living with a pet teaches children to read their pet’s needs- is he hungry? Does he need to go outside? Maybe the pet is scared of the wind, rain or snow and needs to be comforted. The compassion for other living beings, in general, also develops over time. The way kids love them and take care of them provides a constant way for them to outwardly showcase love.
3. To Love Unconditionally
Pets give unconditional love. They are non-judgmental, and, especially for a child who is lonely, distressed or emotionally drained, a pet gives them someone to talk to. A pet can comfort, give support, and listen to a child’s troubles without judgment or consequence. Pets show us unconditional love, and that is a boost to one’s self-esteem. And, when playing, a pet can become your child’s partner and best buddy.
4. To Be Active & Playful
Pets, particularly dogs, love to play. Whether it’s just running in circles, fetching, wrestling with other dogs, or playing tug-of-war, they play just for the fun of it. Maybe they know that play makes them happier. And guess what, it’s the same with kids. Playtime is equally important for children. Playing contributes to the cognitive, physical, social, and emotional well-being of children and youth. Play also offers an ideal opportunity for parents to engage fully with their children.
Also, having a pet helps promote a more physically active lifestyle for children. Taking your pet dog for a walk is not only a way to keep them healthy but it also is a way for the kids to exercise as well. It becomes a routine and gradually becomes something that the kids anticipate each day. Running down the path and playing fetch in the park makes for tired little ones and exhausted pups. And trust me, there’s nothing better than seeing your little one off the computer screens and devices, and engaged with a furry loving companion. Check out some fun ways to keep your dog fit and active here.
5. To Listen More
Listening, an important life skill is mostly ignored as we grow up. But have you ever tried talking to your pet? Do you see that look in the dog’s or cat’s eyes? And they rarely interrupt! Moreover, they never look down at their phone in the middle of a conversation. Pets don’t offer unsolicited advice or interrupt. They just listen for as long as the person wants to talk. How might our relationships be improved if we did the same? So let’s simply ‘stop talking’ and ‘start listening’.
6. To Be Curious
Animals have a natural curiosity that helps them learn important life skills. As a general rule, young kids are equally curious but then often lose their curious nature as the stresses and demands of adult life take over. Living with a pet lets that spark of curiosity never die out. After all, curiosity can improve intelligence, relationships, and even happiness! So take a cue from your dog or cat, they are always curious about what you are doing, who walked by the house, what is on your dinner plate, and what kind of stuffing is inside that pillow!
7. To Be Forgiving
Pets reflect the most forgiving and selfless side to a person’s attitude. And that is a big takeaway if you are living with a pet. Children grow up as individuals who believe in moving on and not carrying negative emotions linked with grudges or resentment.
8. To Be Positive
Animals find ways to accept and make the best of their surroundings. They don’t dwell on the negative aspects of their lives. Dogs have a way of finding the good in most situations. The weather may be sweltering or stormy, but a dog will usually still be happy to take a walk with his favourite person. A cat will discover a sliver of sunlight in an otherwise dark room and roll over to enjoy an indulgent sunbath. Observing their pet may not only lift a child’s mood but also teach them to foster a positive attitude.
Pets like Guinea Pigs are gaining a lot of popularity these days primarily due to their mild temperament. Children who are stressed or anxious tend to calm down by simply holding their pet or stroking them for some time.
9. To Be Non-Judgemental
Animals don’t understand labels, they simply respond to kindness. Your pet wouldn’t care if you own a villa or a fancy car. They offer unconditional love to their owners and will reciprocate every gesture of love. Cats don’t evaluate a person’s intellect or beauty before curling upon his/her lap. Dogs enthusiastically greet all visitors, regardless of their race, gender, or career status. Children growing up with pets would do well to learn this trait and learn not to judge others based on outward appearances or preconceived biases.
10. To Live In The Moment
Mindfulness- one of the most talked-about terms of the 21st century, and it surprisingly has always been there amongst animals. Though they certainly experience fear and trepidation at times, any anxiety is based on the circumstances at the moment. They rarely think or worry about the future. Pets tend to trust that their needs will be provided for on an ongoing basis. While not preparing for the future is not as practical for people, living in the moment is a helpful practice. Worrying about the future is not productive and undermines the present moment. Let’s teach our kids to be like our pets and enjoy the moment, we can deal with tomorrow…tomorrow!
And the best above all – pets help children feel good. When kids come home from a stressful day at school, a few face licks from the dog or a sweet nuzzle from the cat are all it takes to have your child laughing and smiling again.
Pet Responsibilities To Teach Your Kid
However, if you are in the stage of deciding whether to become a pet parent or not, it’s imperative to know that pets come with a huge responsibility. So it’s not a decision that can be taken lightly. Here are some responsibilities to keep in mind and teach your kid.
- Pets need training, exercise, supervision, attention, baths, and proper hygiene. If you are a first-time pet owner, check out some newbie training techniques here. You can also train your cat! Check it out here.
- Pets need food that caters to their needs. A wholesome diet including meat, vegetables, fruits and yoghurt works best for dogs. Read more about what food is good and bad for your dog here.
- Pets also need proper veterinary care, which can add up quickly.
- If your family is frequently on the go, you’ll have to consider other expenses such as pet sitters, boarding, or even daycare.
And above all, they need your time!
You can also take this fun quiz with your child to see if they are the ultimate dog lover! Click here.
Also, do you know while you look for adding a furry member to your family, you can actually save a life! Yes, you heard it right.
Instead of going out to ‘shop’ a pet, think of ‘adopting’ one. This way you will not only save a life but also it doesn’t cost as much as buying from a breeder. Also, by adopting, you are refusing to fuel this despicable industry that endures endless cruelty to innocent animals like cramped conditions and lack of proper healthcare.
I believe animals come into our lives at certain times for a reason. Whether it’s simply companionship, guardianship, or helping you through a dark time, they come with their own brand of magic.
Here’s to adding that magic to the life of our children.