Children love pets, we love pets, how do we resist them right?
Those big round puppy eyes, smiles that melt your hearts, and tongues sticking out of the side of the mouth in such goofy ways. They can light up any dark days, give you unconditional love, and bring out the best personalities in you. Pets like dogs make great therapy companions improve the mental health and wellbeing of many people.
How many times does your child plead for you to get a pet, and you feel so guilty for turning him down. Again.
I do agree that pets can be a lot of work, but pets also teach us, adults and kids alike, many valuable life lessons. There are pets who don’t need any form of training, such as hamsters and guinea pigs that make great pets for our young children. No matter the size of the pet, we can’t deny how much joy it will bring to the family.
Before you start shaking your head, let us look at the benefits of letting our children grow up with a pet, shall we?
Benefit #1: Pets Provide Comfort and Reduce Stress
Pets tend to release calming oxytocin and endorphins in you, and they also help to lower blood pressure. There is much research that shows how much more at ease people feel when a pet was with them. Children feel less lonely and more supported when they have a pet.
Here is a true story of how dogs help children overcome their fear of reading aloud. Check out these 4 legged heroes from Story Dogs
Benefit #2: Pets Keep Your Child Healthy
A strong immune system is definitely important for us and our children. Many studies have shown that children growing up with pets do have greater resistance to certain allergies.
A study conducted by Dr. Dennis Ownby, Professor of Pediatrics and Internal Medicine in Augusta, on kids between 6 to 7 years old have concluded that (and I quote) “Exposure to 2 or more dogs or cats in the first year of life may reduce the subsequent risk of allergic sensitization to multiple allergens during childhood.” (Ownby. D.R., Johnson, C.C., Peterson, E.L (2002). Exposure to Dogs and Cats in the First Year of Life and Risk of Allergic Sensitization at 6 to 7 Years of Age. JAMA Network. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/195228).
He found that children who grew up with multiple pets have greater resistance to dust mites and grass respectively.
Depending on your family culture and preference, having more than a pet might not be desirable, however, there are other studies have also found correlations between pets and reducing the risk of asthma.
Aside from scientific studies, pets help to keep your children healthy through exercising! Cleaning the cage is a form of activity for them, bringing their pooches out for their daily walks is an outdoor activity too!
Benefit #3: Pets Improve Your Family Bond
Everyone can be involved when bringing the dog out for a walk, showering the pet, or grooming it. Even watching the fishes in the fish tank can be a topic during a family gathering, finding out more about the habits of a rabbit can encourage curiosity. When we do things more often as a family with the pet, it helps strengthen our family bonds.
Pets play a part in reminding us to slow down our pace in our daily lives. It forces you to stop and take a break from work. You will be surprised when you find yourself laughing along with your kids. All because the cat is doing her funny runway walk down the hallway with her fanning tail.
Benefit #4: Pets Nurture Values in Your Child
Having a pet comes with a lot of responsibilities. Most parents end up being the sole caregiver for the pet, which is the reason why most parents are turned off with the idea of having a pet.
One of the possibilities this happened is because we just want to get the task done and move on. Our kids sometimes create more work than being helpful. I know how frustrating that can be, and I’m guilty as charged.
At times, it’s good to stop hustling and watch the joy on your child’s face when they feel they have accomplished something great. Watch your 5-year-old’s expression when you teach her to brush the rabbit’s fur gently. Shower her with praises and complements will improve her self-esteem. When she knows she is doing a good job of taking care of the pet, it will boost her confidence and feel more secured about herself.
Benefit #5: Pets Improve Your Child’s Emotional Intelligence
As a mom, you know that improving your child’s emotional intelligence (EQ) is just as important as (in fact more important) their IQ. You would love to know your child grows up to be empathetic and able to connect well with others. There are many articles online providing tips on that, but do you know that a pet plays a part in it too?
By teaching your child to care for another living being, you are teaching them compassion. Although there are still many things your young child will not be able to do, there are still many things he can learn. Filling the pet’s water bowl, brushing them, and feeding them are some of the easier activities.
With a pet, your child can learn to read it’s body language and facial expression. When they hear the kitten meowing at the door, it will intrigue thoughts such as “What might Ginger want to do? How can I help?
Before you agree on the pet, do read up on the different types of pets! Have open discussions with everybody beforehand about your lifestyles and preferences. If your family likes the outdoors and often go on long hikes, then a dog will be a perfect fit. If you are a busy working parent and prefer a pet that requires lesser playtime, then a hamster, fish, or turtle will be a good choice.
Most importantly, be involved with your children. I have personally experienced the joy (and annoyance) with my boys when we learn the different personalities and needs of our dog, cat, and terrapin. They have grown up to be more comfortable around animals. Once we saw an injured pigeon on the pavement and they initiated to bring it to the vet. Thankfully the pigeon recovered after a week and was able to fly back into the wild again.
Regardless of the size and shape of your pet, you will be sure that you are into a happier and healthier lifestyle for yourself and your children!
How has your lifestyle change after having a pet? Share your experiences by leaving a comment below! In the meantime, share this post and let more moms and dads know why their children need to have a pet too!