Five Ways a Pet Could Benefit Your Family
Most kids love animals, and if your family is considering adopting a pet, you can expect to reap many rewards. Whether you choose to welcome a furry, feathered, reptilian or fish companion into your home, here are five ways your family may benefit from having a pet.
Pets Teach Kids Responsibility
Making the decision to adopt a pet and discussing how the family will organize to care for it are choices that every family member can participate in, no matter their age. Younger children can be encouraged to interact with a pet every day, while the whole family can take part in walking a dog, playing with a cat or feeding fish. As children grow older, they can “level up” their responsibility by taking on feeding and litter or cage cleaning activities.
Pets Encourage Nurturing and Empathy
Empathy and nurturing are learned behaviours, so being responsible for the well-being of another creature can help build these skills in children. We learn to provide nurturing by being caregivers, so by taking care of animals, children also learn how to have compassion and to care about the needs of others.
Pets Help Kids Learn
Pets are non-judgmental so it may come as no surprise that education experts recognize that they are ideal companions for reluctant readers. Mary Renck Jalongo, Ph.D., an education professor at the Indiana University of Pennsylvania, says that any child can benefit from reading to a pet. In her research, she has shown that encouraging children to read to dogs reduces a child’s stress levels and allows them to be more relaxed than when reading to peers or adults, which may encourage children to read more.
Pets Make You Healthier
No matter the pet you choose to adopt, chances are having them as a part of the family will reduce stress. Dogs require daily outdoor time, so the whole family can participate in getting away from their screens to enjoy a walk with a furry companion. Cats usually need daily interaction and play time, and even just watching fish can be relaxing.
Meanwhile, people who have grown up with dogs or cats, especially, are less likely to develop allergies and asthma. Scientists are not certain why yet, but they suspect it has something to do with being exposed to pet dander during early childhood.
Pets Help Develop Social Skills
Pets bond to their companions unconditionally, which can help children develop a stronger sense of self-esteem. Caring for a pet can foster self-motivation and also teaches children how to respect boundaries when it comes to gentle touching or leaving pets alone when they’re eating or resting. Talking about pets at school can also serve as an ice-breaker for children, particularly if they are shy when interacting with their peers.