Why every kid should grow up with pets
It’s a lot of fun for kids to share their precious childhood years with a pet. They will always have a friend to play with, and by helping to take care of the animal, they will learn a lot about responsibility. So what are the benefits of having a family pet? And how do you ensure the situation is safe for both pet and kids?
Developmental benefits for the child
Having a pet can be valuable for your child’s development. Dogs and bunnies offer unconditional friendship and a safe harbour. A pet may even help your child strike up new friendships, as lots of kids enjoy playing with a friend that has an animal.
It may not be the first thing you think of when you’re considering getting a pet, but children can learn a lot from having an animal. First of all, by involving them in the animal’s care. By having to feed, walk and play with their cat, dog or Guinea pig every day, children will learn about responsibility and discipline. Don’t forget your kid is still learning. Guide them well to ensure they will enjoy caring for their pet and to make sure the animal is actually getting fed every day.
An unfortunate aspect of pet parenthood is that your furry (or scaly, whatever the case may be!) friends can get sick and even die. Even though that will be an incredibly unpleasant experience, it will teach your kids how to deal with the sadder facts of life. Show your child how to take care of your pet at such a time, and you will teach them how to relate to their friends when the going gets tough and how to cope with difficult emotions.
Safety first for animal and child
Because playtime has to be safe for both kid and pet, it’s a great idea to set some ground rules. For example, kids have to learn not to wake up a sleeping dog, not to pull the cat’s tail and to be very gentle when petting the hamster. They also have to learn to respect the animal’s personal space. Their basket is a dog’s safe space, and children should stay out. An important life lesson, as this will teach kids that others, in this case the dog, sometimes need a little me-time.
Even if you don’t have pets, it’s probably a great idea to teach your kids how to approach animals with respect. Never let your kids pet random dogs. Agree they have to ask you and the dog’s owner for permission.
Clearly, a dog or cat can be much more to kids than just a playmate. They will learn to be responsible for another living being and many other things, like being home on time to feed the pet. And it may even earn them the spot of the most popular kid in class!
Of course, they will only enjoy these benefits if they form a close-knit bond with the animal. This will only happen if you involve the child in the care and raising of the pet from the get-go. Taking on a puppy or kitten takes a lot of energy and time. For example, to house-train a puppy you must walk them regularly, and they have to learn many new commands. When you tackle these duties as a family, your kids will learn about everything raising a pet entails.
The process can be a little involved, but handle it well, and your kid will have a friend for life!