Many parents will find themselves at the receiving end of their child’s pleas for a pet. Unfortunately, everything that entails getting a pet can easily scare off any parent from granting that request. Despite the usual challenges however, having a pet has numerous perks that will persuade any parent to give in to her child’s request.
Whether you are thinking of giving your child a dog, cat, fish, rabbit, or any other animal, here are some benefits you can look forward to if you decide to give your child one.
1. Your child will learn to be responsible. Even adults can learn to be more responsible by owning a pet and your child can enjoy the same benefit! Toddlers and preschoolers are not exempt because they can also help out and learn to be responsible for their pet by doing things that a pet owner needs to do. It can be something as simple as making sure there is water in the bowl or giving the pet its food on a fixed, regular schedule.
There are so many little tasks that come with having a pet and your little one will be more than excited to help out just to be allowed to keep the pet. Make sure to help your child understand that all those tasks come with being a pet owner, and you can even do a trial period before actually getting a pet to avoid the situation where your child may change his mind after feeling the small responsibilities of keeping one. Help him practice doing the tasks you will assign to him even before you get the pet. This way, your child will know what to expect and he will be ready for when the pet arrives.
2. Your child will have a playmate. Whether you have several children or only one child, a pet is an instant playmate! Dogs and cats are particularly great at this and your little one will have hours of fun playing with his pet. A pet is an instant friend for any child and the pretend plays they can have is only limited by your child’s imagination. It goes without saying though that you will have to make sure that your chosen pet’s temperament is safe and friendly for young kids.
3. Your child will learn to read. Watch as your child not only plays with the pet, but also learns to read. A pet is a safe and comfortable ‘sounding board’ for a child who’s just learning to read. Having a pet to read to without the pressure to read perfectly will encourage your little one to practice reading.
In fact, in many schools and libraries in the United States, therapy dogs are made available for young children to read to. This gives the children a fun and enjoyable way to practice reading aloud and helps boost their reading confidence.
4. Your child will have a companion. How many adults have taken on a pet for companionship and security? The same benefits will also apply to your child! Having a pet has been known to ease loneliness and relieve stress and anxiety. In fact, animal-assisted therapy is an accepted form of practice for helping treat depression. Aside from this, there are countless stories of dogs protecting their human companions and with the proper care and love, your child and his dog will develop unshakeable loyalty to each other.
5. Your child’s emotional development will get a boost. Emotional development is one aspect of your child’s development that may be hard to gauge simply because its results are intangible. Having a pet will help boost emotional development because of the experiences and relationship that your child will develop with his pet. Don’t be surprised if you see a big improvement in your child’s social skills, empathy, and self esteem – pets provide unconditional love that greatly helps develop these.
6. Your child will learn to care for others. If having a younger sibling helps older children learn to care for others, having a pet kind of does the same thing. A pet will teach your child to look out for others and to be nurturing towards other people. Providing care to a pet is a great way to practice skills that your child will need especially when he is older and have kids of his own.
7. Your child will become more active. Unless your child’s chosen pet is a fish or a bird, having one will encourage more physical activities. There are more opportunities to be active when there is a dog or a cat to run around and play with. It will also encourage spending time outdoors –- something that a lot of kids nowadays need to do more of.
8. Your child will enjoy health benefits. Some parents avoid getting a pet because of worries about how it will affect their child’s health. Contrary to this concern, studies show that pets actually provide a lot of health benefits! Owning a pet has been linked to lower risks of developing allergies. Exposure to pets during the first year of life might actually make it less likely for your child to develop skin allergies, hay fever, and asthma.
Aside from this, fewer respiratory problems, less frequent ear infections, lower blood pressure, less incidence of obesity, and lower levels of cholesterol, are other health benefits that have been associated with owning a pet.
These benefits provide enough reason for any parent to want to give their child a pet. Whether you choose to give a dog, a cat, a fish, or any other animal to your child, it is still important to carefully consider your family and living situation before taking on this huge responsibility. With the right preparations and careful consideration, your child will greatly benefit from adding a non-human member to the family.