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6 Ways Your Child Benefits from Having a Pet

Child laying on bed with Corgi Dog

Is your child begging you for a dog or cat? Do you lose count of all the things they swear they’ll do if only you get them a furry friend? Kids will promise to do the dishes for life, keep their rooms clean, give up screen time, and do all sorts of things in the hope of a four-legged pal. 

However, as a parent who knows the responsibilities of having a pet, you might not be so quick to give in to your child’s pleas. But it’s worth mentioning that a pet can do a lot of good for your child. So before you make your decision, get to know the benefits children receive from having a pet.

6 Ways Your Child Benefits from Having a Pet

Pets are an integral part of many families with children. They become constant companions, playmates, snuggle buddies, and protectors. 

No doubt adopting a pet is a wonderful way to help an animal in need. But the benefits your children get from having a pet are even more reasons to consider adding a dog or cat to the family.

1. Pets Help Teach Kids Responsibility and Respect

One of the most frequently mentioned benefits of getting a child a pet is that a pet can help teach responsibility. This is certainly true in many cases since your child can take on various tasks to help care for their new friend. However, be realistic about what your child can do based on their age and personality.

Older children can take on many of the responsibilities of pet care, including grooming, feeding, and exercise. Younger children can start to contribute in small ways and take on more responsibility as they get older. For example, young children can help hold the leash during a family walk, fill the food bowl, and assist with light grooming.

Caring for another creature is also a great way to teach your children about respect. When they are compassionate and kind to their pet, their pet will respond positively. If kids are too rowdy or rude toward pets, the dog or cat will likely try to avoid them. This is an excellent example of treating others as you want to be treated.

2. Children Learn About Trust and Build Social and Emotional Awareness

Studies point out that having a pet could play a role in your child’s emotional development, as well as cognitive, social, and behavioral development. Another study suggested that adopting a shelter cat could have a positive impact on children with Autism

Children learn about nurturing and caring for others when they have a pet. This becomes a teachable moment to talk to your kids about how caring for others builds trust. 

Also, in caring for a dog or cat, your child shifts their focus onto something outside of themselves and recognizes that others have feelings and needs. Although more research is needed, plenty of encouraging factors point to the overall benefits pets have on children.

3. Pets Encourage Kids to Be Active and Help Build Motor Skills

Playing with pets encourages kids to run, jump, and exercise. These activities help children develop gross motor skills, coordination, balance, and other important factors. A dog that loves to play and run will help entice kids to get off the couch and go outside.

Think about the other things children do when they have a pet. Kids scoop kibble, throw dog toys, wiggle a cat toy, clip on a leash, and more. These actions help children further develop fine motor skills.

4. Dogs and Cats Enable Children to Develop Their Communication Skills

Children talk to their pets without any fear or worry of getting in trouble or revealing their secrets. A child who is normally shy around people might easily open up to their feline friend or canine companion.

Kids also love to read to their pets. All of these are opportunities for kids to explore their verbal skills, broaden their vocabulary, and practice communicating.

5. Pets Play a Role in Reducing Stress

Studies suggest that pets improve mental health and reduce anxiety levels. Simply petting a dog or cat could help children relax and unwind. 

When your child is having a rough day, snuggling or playing with their pet also provides a distraction from what’s bothering them. As they play and pet their pup or kitty, their stress levels lower and they can approach the rest of their day from a calmer place.

6. Pets Offer Acceptance and a Confidence Boost

Pets are experts at giving unconditional love. They don’t hold grudges, they won’t talk about you behind your back, and they won’t tease you. (Unfortunately the same can’t be said for all kids and teenagers.)

Therefore, children enjoy a feeling of acceptance when they interact with their pets. This acceptance, coupled with caring for their pets, provides a valuable confidence boost. When kids feel more confident, they have more strength and courage to approach other aspects of their lives.

Children petting a cat

Choosing the Right Pet for Your Child

If you plan to add a dog or cat to the family, keep these pointers in mind when finding a new furry friend.

  • Decide if a dog or cat is a better fit for your lifestyle.
  • Adopt a pet that is good with children. For example, a senior dog that prefers quiet and calm likely won’t appreciate a house with toddlers.
  • If you have young children, consider adopting a puppy or kitten that can grow up with your child. However, know that you’ll be the one likely taking care of a pet when your child is very young. Older children (10+) can better handle the responsibilities that go along with dogs and cats.
  • Consider your child’s personality. If they’re very active, choosing a dog that loves to be outside and needs lots of exercise could be a great match. But if your child prefers quieter activities, a more low-key breed might be a better choice.
  • According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), 10% to 20% of the world deals with pet allergies. If your child is more susceptible to allergies, look for a hypoallergenic dog or low-shedding cat breed.
  • Above all else, don’t force the situation. If you know that getting a pet isn’t the best idea for your family in your current situation, it’s essential to wait. Your child might be disappointed, but it’s better to get them a pet when the time is right.

Pets and Kids: Best Friends At First Sight

Finding the perfect companion for your family could set your child up with a furry friend for many years. Your child will be thrilled with the new addition, but they’ll also reap lots of benefits. Pets help children learn responsibility, compassion, empathy, and trust.

Children also learn to build communication skills and social awareness when they interact with and care for a pet. The unconditional love pets give to their families offers children a valuable feeling of acceptance that leads to higher confidence and compassion. 

Head over to the Neater Pets blog to find even more great ways pets can enrich your life.



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