Dogs are a man’s best friend, but how about a boy or a girl’s best mate? What can the cat do to help your children do better at school? Will the presence of a rabbit’s floppy ears make your youngest become a better listener?
All questions you’ve probably never asked yourself or anyone else, but the truth is having pets in the home can teach your children some valuable and positive life lessons which they can carry forward into adulthood.
Here’s a glimpse into the wisdom your faithful pet could be passing on to the kids.
A sense of responsibility
You understand the burden of responsibility that comes with owning a pet. For example, the major financial responsibility that comes with purchasing and maintaining a healthy animal, and the rigours of its exercise routine, feeding times and so on and so forth.
That financial responsibility stretches over the animal’s lifetime, so make sure you check your finances before going ahead and adding a new member to your family.
While your children might not get absolutely all of the background stuff that goes on with keeping a pet, they can gauge the sense of responsibility required to look after a loved one. You can help them learn by giving them age-appropriate tasks, such as getting little ones to look for when the dog’s water bowl is empty or letting older children to help with the feeding process.
Learning compassion and enhancing communication
Most household pets are highly emotionally intelligent animals. Dogs in particular display their heart on their sleeve best, and day-to-day interaction with animals can help teach your kids the basics of compassion and communication.
Understanding when a pet is happy or sad, excited or angry, in distress or wants something; this is all based on learning your pet’s behaviours and actions. Just like you, the kids will get to understand this better as time goes on, understanding the limits of communication in play and learning to work around it to develop a better relationship.
Reducing stress and behavioural issues
Studies have shown that children of families with pets generally have better health, are more active and struggle less with behavioural and learning issues, not to mention are generally less moody, too. This, however, is likely down to better socio-economic circumstances rather than the animals themselves, but the use of animals as therapy pets suggest there is a stress reduction, and therefore behavioural improvement attached directly to owning a pet.
Encouraging a healthy lifestyle
Owning a pet is fun, but it’s also pretty tiring at points, so why not let the kids take over with the exercise elements from time to time. Whether that’s them accompanying you out walking the dog on a day or running around with the cat in the living room, owning a pet that needs to stay active encourages your kids to do the same.
When people come to get a pet, the psychological benefits one would provide for their children probably isn’t the top reason for getting one. There is, however, a lot of evidence to say that owning a pet can help your children develop some fundamental life skills – which is an added bonus to have a cute cuddle companion around at all times.