By Dr. Amanda Rouen
- Learning Responsibility
Living in a household with a pet can teach kids responsibility and empathy. Pets need our help to provide food, exercise, clean bedding, and a loving environment. Caring for a pet and getting their love in return is a great way for kids to learn that being dependable and kind are two great things to be!
- Better Overall Well-Being
It has been shown that having a pet decreases stress, anxiety and loneliness. For kids that may be upset or angry about something that happened at school, they can seek comfort from a family pet that loves them unconditionally and without judgement. In addition, being involved in the care of their pet will help them learn to put their pet’s needs before their own, and foster good self-esteem.
- Less Illness
Many studies have shown that owning a pet can reduce the incidence of asthma and ear infections in kids, and even lower the need for antibiotics. Germs and bacteria that babies are exposed to by a pet helps to strengthen the immune system early in life, and assist in fighting more serious threats later on.
- Physical Activity
In a world where we have a lot of screen time, getting kids to engage in walking the dog, playing with the cat, or even just cleaning out the guinea pig cage helps to keep them active!
Children that struggle with reading or social skills can benefit from interacting or owning a pet. It’s a lot easier reading to a cat lounging on the bed or a dog snuggled in their lap because a pet won’t criticize a child’s struggles with reading. Even if someone doesn’t have a pet at home, many libraries and shelters have programs to help foster both confidence and a love for reading.
- Strengthening the Family
Having a pet can strengthen the family bond because the whole family can agree that their pet is the best! Families can come together to tell favorite stories about what the dog did that day or how funny the cat was playing with a toy. In a society where kids and parents are over-scheduled, sometimes slowing down and spending time walking the dog or brushing the cat together is a positive experience for the entire family.