As kids get older, they find themselves having friends who own pets. From dogs and cats to birds and hamsters, its inevitable they will be asking their parents if they, too, can become pet owners. With pet ownership being a big responsibility, some parents hesitate on giving their blessing. However, as scientists have done research on the benefits of pet ownership as it pertains to children, you might find yourself more eager than ever to drive to the local pet store or animal shelter. There are numerous ways pets help children!
If you have found that your children have had more than their share of ailments, owning a pet could change all that. Based on research published in the Journal of Pediatrics, kids who had pets in their home while they were infants were found to have 31 percent fewer respiratory infections and 44 percent fewer ear infections. When looking for a reason to explain this, scientists determined that being pets help expose them to dirt, dander, and pollen made the children’s immune systems much stronger at an early age, making it a bit easier to clean up after Fido or Fluffy.
And speaking of cleaning up after pets, kids who own pets have also been found to grow up to become very responsible adults. According to researchers, owning pets that they are responsible for feeding, grooming, playing with, and cleaning up after on a daily basis shows children the importance of responsibility, organizational skills, and maintaining a regular daily schedule.
But if you’re more interested in having a child who’s a great student, you’ll be happy to know pets help contribute to this as well. According to the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, kids who own pets are much more self-confident, have higher self-esteem, and are better able to make friends and perform better in school, particularly in literacy. By having pets who willingly sit and listen to them read while not criticizing them for an occasional mistake, children’s confidence levels go sky high.
If you need even more reasons why its great for kids to own pets, pay a visit to www.catological.com/9-ways-pets-help-raise-kids/
9 Ways Pets Help Raise Good, Healthy Kids
Animals all have their own unique “languages”. Just like learning to talk it’s important to teach children how to communicate with all the critters they may meet. Why is this important? Because animals are awesome and being good to them makes you pretty awesome too; among many other good reasons far too numerous to mention! So, how do you go about teaching your kid about the language of animals? Here are some top tips!
How to Teach Your Kids to Respect Animals
- Teach them to be humble. Kids have a way of seeing something they want and just grabbing it for their own purpose and amusement. When around another living creature, encourage them to control that urge. Some animals are crazy and will bounce all around a kid scaring them, but sometimes it’s the kid doing the bouncing and grabbing. Teach your kid to be patient and let the animal approach them on their own terms.
- Teach them to be gentle. Soft touching and no grabbing is key to animal respect. Sure, there will always be amazing pets out there that don’t mind your toddler dragging them around by their tail, but do they really enjoy it? Best to advise your child how to stroke them gently and carry them comfortably.
- Teach them to be calm. Pets can be just as rambunctious as kids sometimes. It’s important that your kid learns not to lash if they get annoyed with them. No hitting, kicking, or biting!
- Learn more! Find a full list of awesome ways to teach your child to respect animals here. From visiting animals shelters to reading books about them there are a million (or at least 21) ways that you can increase your child’s empathy and ensure they have lots of happy relationships with pets in their future!
Every step of life has its lessons that can be learned. Kids who often pine after a pet frequently see them as an interactive toy. If a parent takes note, however, pets can be a great opportunity for teaching children many life lessons. Check out our list of lessons below to see how getting your child that pet they’re after can work in your favor!
Lessons From A Pet
- Respect & Control – It’s instinct to grab and cuddle anything small and furry. Small and furry creatures have feelings and preferences too! Many will recoil, runaway, or even act hostile if approached while they’re not in the mood. Teach your child how recognizing and respecting an animal’s mood and needs can be rewarded by a lasting bond.
- Self-esteem – Pets simply don’t have the ability to judge you like fellow humans. If your child is self-conscious, spending time with a pet can help them come out of their shell. Kids frequently spend time reading to their pets or telling them secrets and stories. All these things help build your child’s skills for larger interactions.
- Outdoor Fun – These days it can be hard to get children away from a screen. Ipads, T.V’s, and phones keep kids distracted all the time. A pet is a great way to inspire them to put the electronics down. Pets cultivate outdoor time and physical activity.
- Coping – This is one of life’s hardest lessons. Your child will suffer grief at some point and losing a pet is a way that you can coach them through the process and help them develop coping skills.
- Responsibility – Feedings, waterings, baths, walks, cleaning… the list goes on! With a pet comes lots of chores! Helping your child understand the connection between getting something they want, and then taking care of it is an important lesson. A word of caution though: just because it’s your child’s responsibility doesn’t mean it’s not yours too. As the parent, it’s important that you make sure the animal is being cared for properly.
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Soft cuddly playful fluffiness is something most children find impossible to resist! It’s likely that if you have a child it won’t be much longer than they can talk before they are asking for a pet. But are they ready? There is a lot of responsibility in caring for another living creature and it’s not a decision that should be made on a whim. Here are some factors to take into consideration before you give in:
Should Your Child or Children Get A Pet?
- How old is your child? – Age is a big consideration. Children younger than five tend to have a harder time with pets. While pets can be a great way to teach compassion and empathy, very young children can struggle with respecting a pets space and understanding how to handle one. Getting your child a pet too young can lead to either your child getting hurt or the pet. Stick to stuffed animals until they are a little older!
- Start small and assess the child’s growth – Pets are also a great way to teach responsibility. Be sure to take it slow. Start your child off with a fish, hermit crabs, or other creature that requires minimal work. If you observe your child maintaining consistent responsibility with feeding, cleaning, and general care, they might be getting ready for a bigger pet!
- Make sure your child understands commitment – The lifespan of a conventional pet (such as a cat or dog) can match your child’s time in your home. It’s very possible that a pet they get when they are five can still be with them when they are eighteen. You and your child should be prepared for a long-term commitment.
- Are you ready? – While the pet may belong to your child it doesn’t mean that you are free from responsibility for it. The most mature child is still just a child and it’s up to you to make sure that the animal is being properly cared for and to take over duties when your child is sick or busy.
Don’t let holidays or pet shop windows tempt you into an impulse buy! Living creatures deserve your full consideration and they will be dependent on you for the rest of their lives. See more important tips and things to consider here.
Children and Pets – Mutually beneficial!
There are lots of things to think about when your child (or children) reach that age to start asking for a pet. If you’re not one of those families that raised your children alongside a loved family animal, it may be a hard decision. There is a lot to think about. It’s good to take into consideration if a child is old enough to start learning the responsibilities that come with owning a pet. Most children think of the fun involved. It is the parent’s responsibility to show their kids that the fun is the result of responsible and considerate pet ownership. Here are 5 more reasons alongside responsibility, that children should be raised with pets!
5 Reasons Children Should Be Raised With Pets
- Pet ownership is a great tool to teach your child about empathy, sharing and respecting other creature’s space. It’s especially great for only children because it can help them form bonds similar to that shared with siblings. It can also boost their social development.
- Having a pet encourages your child to be more active. This helps them stay fit and get lots of fresh air. Whether it’s playing fetch, swimming or going for walks, anything that makes your child enjoy physical activity is a great health boost!
- It helps with loneliness. Especially when parents may be working overtime or any other life situations that cause children to spend more time solo. Having a pet for company helps keep them on a socially interactive level. Two out of five children will seek out their pet when they are upset by something.
- Interacting with a pet can help lower stress and anxiety. Homework and peer pressures can lead to a lot of unpleasant side effects. Children who spend time with pets have a better ability to conquer these issues and feel confident. Children who struggle with reading benefit greatly from having a pet to read to. A better reading performance can diminish educational anxiety.
- Children raised with pets exhibit less allergies as adults than those who aren’t. They also get sick less frequently and tend to miss fewer days of school than children raised without.
We encourage parent’s everywhere to do a lot of research and homework before bringing home a pet for their child. Also to take it as an opportunity to interact with your child and prepare them for the responsibility of pet ownership. Watching children grow with their pets can be a very rewarding experience!
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In a recent article in Martha Stewart Living, writer Amy Shearn, wrote a very good article about bonding with her pet dog that allowed her entire family to grow closer. The reason for her re-connection with her pet and family? She got caught-up in the everyday business of life; kids, job, family, work, etc. She became a little bit resentful of her pet that she had for awhile due to her being busy and other priorities. However, after reinforcing the positive in her relationship with her pet, she ended up treating her family better, as well as her children extending the same kindness to their pet. As mentioned in the article, the following tips are expert suggestions for “rekindling your relationship” with your dog and/or pet.
- Teach your dog something new– Kristen Collins, a certified animal behaviorist for ASPCA claims that when you teach your dogs new skills, you work their brains, and “it’s a fun, intimate kind of communication.”
- Make dog time a priority– Encourage dog with with another goal, such as walking, running, and/ or getting your kids active outside.
- Focus on problem areas and vow to resolve them– If you’re pet is stressing you out with having to walk him, when you’re really busy with other things, have someone else walk him for you. Say, “the kid down the street, and pay him $10 to do so.”
- Bring your dog on family outings– Dogs (and cats) love discovering new things, people and places and is great for them to interact with you on family outsings, such as a picnic, a hike or a long walk in a park.
- Involve your kids– This is especially important if your pet loves being around people. Have your child spend some time with him by ‘reading to’ your dog.
What are some ways you like to rekindle the bond between you, family and your dog (or cat)? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section.