Taking care of a pet is, quite often, a childhood rite of passage. The eagerness that a child can feel for nurturing another living creature is unmatched. Such an experience will create lifelong memories; in fact, most children always remember their first pet.
Having a pet at home is entertaining. It gives kids the warm and fuzzies. But apart from that, caring for a pet also positively affects a child in a more profound way. By letting your child interact with pets, their social, emotional, physical and cognitive development will all be encouraged.
Adopting a pet should not be taken lightly because this is a huge commitment. You will need to buy high-quality pet food, pet accessories, and all other kinds of supplies, as well as make sure they receive the best veterinary care. However, this can be the best thing a parent can do for their kid’s best childhood experience.
Here are some excellent reasons for letting a pet into your home.
1. Pets Help With Learning
Parents encourage their children to read from books, and they can get help in this regard from some very special volunteers. Kids often read books to their pets since they are great listeners. Apart from reading, kids also like to show their pets some photos and ask them questions. They even reassure their furry friends during the scary parts of the story.
Most educators have known that bringing therapy animals like dogs into schools will help developmentally challenged students to learn.
In one study, kids were asked to read in front of an adult, their friends, and a dog. Their stress levels were monitored. Researchers found that children were more relaxed around the animals than when they were around people.
2. Pets Keep Children Healthy
Based on a study conducted by Dennis Ownby, MD, the head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, Augusta, a child’s risk of developing certain allergies is decreased by having multiple pets at home.
His research involved a group of 474 babies from birth to 7 years old. His study shows that children who were exposed to two or more cats or dogs when they were babies were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as those who had no pets.
Moreover, kids with pets had fewer positive skin tests to various indoor allergens like dust-mites and to outdoor allergens like grass and ragweed. Other studies further suggested that early exposure to pets might decrease a kid’s risk of developing asthma.
3. Pets Give Comfort
Animals give children something to talk about. Often, this is a shared interest among kids. Pets are also a great source of comfort. Children turn to their pets when they feel angry, afraid and sad, or if they have a secret to share.
Moreover, pets can support and listen to a child’s troubles without consequence or judgment. When playing, they can become the child’s best buddy and partner.
4. Pets Promote Nurturing
Nurturing is not a quality that can just appear in adulthood when it is required. Children must find a way to participate in being caregivers while they are still young.
Today, there is little opportunity for children to look after other living things apart from their pets. In some countries, siblings often look after each other. However, this is not culturally acceptable in other countries.
It is not legal for parents to leave their children to anyone who is below 16 years old. So the best way to teach good parenting skills to these kids is through pets.
Taking care of animals is crucial for boys since this is not generally seen as “a girl thing” like playing house, playing with dolls, and babysitting. Girls will more likely be involved in baby care than boys; however, both genders will equally be involved when it comes to caring for pets.
5. Pets Foster Family Bonds
Pets can help families grow closer and stronger. Caring for pets is something families do together. Everyone in the family takes the dog for a walk, gets down on the floor to play with the cats, and shares in feeding and grooming their pets. Spending time on such activities can also slow down the busy pace of modern life.
Children who take care of dogs will definitely learn what it feels like to have a living creature depend on them. This teaches them to be responsible. Moreover, caring for pets helps create a respect for life and a sense of empathy. It teaches consistency and commitment, and it establishes self-confidence.
Parents are encouraged to adopt a pet for their family (rather than purchase one from breeders) and to visit only a premier pet shop for all the supplies they need to care for their pets. For kids, looking after a furry family member creates a lasting feeling of self-esteem that will follow them throughout their lives.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.