The Main Benefits of Pets for Children

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Pets are incredible companions and instill numerous key attributes in children that positively impact their behavior and wellbeing. In fact, pets are known to help teach kids values, compassion, and boost their self-esteem. Overall, the right pet can uplift the mood for the whole family, but also significantly lower stress levels. This article will discuss these benefits in detail, and touch upon some other aspects of pets and children.

“One of the most enduring friendships in history – dogs and their people, people, and their dogs.”, Terry Kay

Positive impacts of pets on children

Pets fulfill the physical and emotional needs of children, teach traits like compassion and empathy, and help them deal with stress and trauma.

Physical and emotional impacts

Anyone who knows a bit about pets knows they’re incredibly affectionate creatures. Be it a dog, cat, a horse, or any other, these animals show unconditional love towards their caretakers, and there seems to be an inherent bond between kids and domesticated animals. 

At the surface level, pets can be an excellent source of fun for kids, be it playing catch or some other physical activity. These activities strengthen their bond and provide a positive outlet for your child’s energy. 

Pets don’t judge or criticize, and love unconditionally. In turn, children learn to trust their companions. This helps them share their feelings and explore their imaginations honestly. In addition, children with anxiety, or kids who are shy in front of others tend to be more expressive towards their pets, which helps them overcome their fears. This is how pets can boost a child’s self-esteem and confidence.

Moreover, children have carefree lives and most are pampered by their parents. Having pets in the house helps kids get closer to nature. Understanding the need for food and hygiene, and the process of reproduction and sickness help teach children compassion and kindness. In addition, the responsibility of taking care of their pets helps teach children respect for other living beings.

Pets teach compassion and kindness

Domesticated animals are completely dependent on their caretakers. Children adopt numerous key traits as they learn to take care of their animal companion. They learn discipline, patience, empathy, and most of all, non-verbal communication and responsibility. 

Let me explain.

Children start reading their pet’s behavior, learn about its needs, and start taking various responsibilities. For instance, 3 years olds can manage filling up the food/water bowl, and as they grow up, taking their pet out for a walk. These activities promote nurturing in children from a very young age. Unlike playing house or dressing up dolls, taking care of pets isn’t deemed a feminine activity, which means both genders are equally involved in pet care. This behavior helps children throughout their childhood as well as in adult life.

These personality traits also help children avoid certain behavioral problems that they may develop as they grow up. For example, research suggests that bullies generally lack empathy for other kids.

Pets keep children healthy

Although this isn’t a proven fact that pets transfer immunity to kids and protect them from all diseases, research suggests pets protect children against some illnesses. Dennis Ownby, MD, a pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, in Augusta, says pets make children less prone to developing certain allergies.

Dr. Ownby’s research analyzed 474 kids up to 7 years old. The results suggested that children with no exposure to pets were twice as likely to develop allergies as children with pets. Children with pets were less likely to develop indoor allergies (pet and dust allergies as well as outdoor allergies (ragweed and grass). A number of studies also indicate that these children are less likely to develop asthma. Other researches suggest infants that live with pets tend to be healthier for the first year, and are less likely to develop respiratory problems and ear infections.

With that being said, please take this with a grain of salt. The research only suggests a correlation and does not claim pets will prevent allergies in your child. In fact, some children may be allergic to pets, especially cats and dogs.

Pets are therapeutic for children

On the other hand, there is a direct relation between pets and reduced stress levels in their caretakers. For starters, a strong bond between humans and pets is extremely rewarding. Pets, especially dogs, are great companions and have proven to be helpful in reducing stress. Some pets can even be trained to help deal with anxiety and panic attacks. This applies to both adults and children alike.

Pets not only allow children to better cope with trauma but can be an excellent aid for kids with autism. Research suggests that pets help regulate blood pressure and expedite recovery from diseases.

Choosing the appropriate pet

Choosing the right pet for a household with kids is crucial for the wellbeing of everyone involved. There are various factors involved, such as:

  • Is your kid allergic to certain pets
  • Is the breed your getting friendly towards children
  • Is this breed easily trained, and does it have any behavioral issues?

Proper research is recommended before you go and get yourself a pet on a whim. For instance, certain breeds like Pitbulls and Bengal Cats are hard to train. In fact, adults who aren’t experienced pet owners should always get a more friendly breed. Other breeds like the Husky, known for its friendliness and high energy levels, can be aggressive towards children if not trained properly.

Taking care of a pet is a huge responsibility. Apart from feeding, grooming, and taking care of its health, properly socializing a pet is also very important. Pets need to socialize with people and kids from a very young age. If their training is overlooked, they will grow up with behavioral problems and may show unexpected bursts of aggression which can be very difficult to deal with.

Conclusion

It’s a well-established fact that pets are an excellent companion for people. Having a pet that companion can have a plethora of benefits, but it’s also a huge responsibility. If you decide to get a pet, make sure you’ve done your research and can take up the responsibility. 

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