Children & pets are two of the biggest joys in anyone’s life. But can they coexist? Are you contemplating getting a puppy or a kitten for your kids? They’re begging for a kitten to cuddle, or a rabbit they can feed, but you’re not so sure as it’s a big commitment? Before you make the big decision of bringing a pet into the family, check out the top 12 reasons why having a pet is actually very good for your children’s mental & physical health & growth.
- Provides comfort and companionship
First & foremost, pets offer comfort and companionship to kids. No matter what mood they are in, children find support and security from their animal companion, which often means they are less anxious or withdrawn.
- Pets teach responsibility & confidence
Tasks such as walking the dog, taking care of a cat’s feeding needs, bathing & grooming them teaches children to be responsible, as well as giving them a sense of confidence & achievement.
- Pets help with learning
Pets can help children with their learning. Educators have often used pets (mainly dogs) as a form of therapy in schools, using them to help developmentally challenged kids to learn. In particular, animals can help children’s reading skills. Research has shown that students who may be reluctant to read out loud at school feel more confident reading to animals as they see them as a non-judgemental buddy.
- Pets are an exercise machine
Be it an infant who is just about to learn how to crawl or an adolescent pre-teen who needs his daily share of mental & physical stimulation, a pet greatly increases a child’s daily exercise quota.
- Pets decrease allergies
Research has shown that children who grow up in homes with pets are likely to have a stronger immune system and less likely to develop childhood allergies and asthma.
"Research carried out by health psychologist Dr June McNicholas of the University of Warwick tested the saliva of 138 children aged between four and 11-years-old for IgA antibodies- an antibody found in the immune system that helps fight off infection. Results showed that pet-owning children were able to fend off infection such as colds and flu better than those children without pets, thus having less days off school."
- Pets Reduce loneliness
Having a pet can help ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, and keep depression at bay. In today’s day & age where loneliness, depression & mental ailments haunt children & teens alike, daily interaction with a pet greatly improves their mental health.
- Pets teach the circle of life
It’s natural for parents to protect their children from the cruelties of the world, especially death & illness, having a pet allows kids to understand and learn about the cycle of life. Dealing with the death of a pet can actually help them cope with other challenging life events.
- Pets teach values
Pets are kind, caring, loyal, innocent and any parent wants to have these qualities in their child. Kids can learn a lot of values from pets. When responsibilities are well paced and communicated, a child can benefit greatly from involvement in bringing up a happy and healthy pet.
- Pets keep families together
Having a pet builds family bonds as they are often the focus of family activities. From walking the dog together to grooming or feeding the cat, these simple but enjoyable tasks allow everyone to slow down, enjoy each other’s company and communicate with one another.
- Pets Lower blood pressure & anxiety
A pet can lower blood pressure and in turn decrease anxiety, thus helping prepare kids when it comes to tackling homework and exams.
- Pets teach empathy
Your kids learn to understand others' needs and how to look out for others. Empathize with others and look out for them. This affects their friendships, and relationships of all kinds after they grow up.
- They’re fun!
Most importantly having a pet is fun. Whether it is a dog, cat, bird or ferret, owning an animal brings enjoyment to any household.