Children adore pets, and most of them have the desire to get an animal that they can care for, in case there isn’t one already in the household. Many parents do give in to their children’s demands while some may be against the decision due to concerns that pets can cause allergies and spread diseases. However pets aren’t just fun and entertaining, they require serious commitment and sense of responsibility. But that’s not all; animals play a significant role in your child’s development. They teach valuable lessons, and by paying close attention, we can learn how to integrate these lessons into the lives of our children. Here is a list of 10 such life-skills that pet ownership will teach your kids.
Among the most valuable skills of life is empathy however it isn’t easy to learn. Pets play a significant role in teaching kids compassion. But it also depends on how you treat the pet in front of your children as they learn by example. It may seem okay for a 3-year old to squeeze or poke a pet to express love, but you have to explain to them when they are wrong. When your kids are responsible for caring for the pet dog or cat, they will also have to put themselves in their pet’s position to understand what the animal feels. It will instill empathy which will translate into their relationships with humans.
Pets are always thankful for the love and care they receive from their humans. Whenever I come home from work, I can see the sparkle in Oscar’s eyes, the way he comes running to me and licks my face, it shows how grateful he is for the moment. A pet in the house will help your children realize the smaller things in life they need to be thankful for. In moments of grief, the pet can act as a source of emotional support. It can teach your child to smile and help them get through difficult phases of life.
Selfless Love and Compassion
The bond that kids share with their animals is unique and profound. At times when they are unable to socialize, don’t perform well on a test or do something they feel guilty about, they share it with their pets. The best part about animals is that they don’t judge you by such incidents and love you the same way. It teaches children the importance of compassion and respect, their love for the pet enables them to be gentle and kind. Kids can translate this love into the relationships they build with people and become compassionate human beings.
It is true that pets can inculcate a sense of responsibility in your kids. A pet is the first being that your kids care for so assigning duties such as providing the pup with quality food or taking him for walks will make your kids realize the meaning of dependability and reliability. They begin to understand that their furry companion depends upon them for his basic needs. However, younger kids won’t be able to participate in such chores, and therefore it would be ideal to get them a low maintenance pet or begin by letting them help you out in caring for the cat or dog.
Children often open up to their pets only as they know the animals won’t give reactions. Studies have also revealed that children prefer sharing their secrets with their pets as it reduces their anxiety. Similarly, the animals also know that their little mates can’t cause them discomfort and will always look after their needs. This relationship of mutual trust can help kids develop the ability to open up to other loyal people around while teaching them the importance of being trustworthy.
Having a pet can increase your child’s self-esteem as they become the caregiver for another being and know that their pet depends upon them. Animals also act as a source of emotional support. Research reveals that autistic kids with pets mainly have better social skills as the affection provided by the pet boosts their confidence. Furthermore, when you involve kids in chores related to their pets, it increases their self-efficacy. Whenever you decide anything for the pet, ask your kids to share what they think as it will make them realize that their opinion matters.
All pets are a genuine representation of devotion. These creatures can help your kids understand why is it crucial to be faithful to those who love you and depend on you. Pets don’t judge their humans by physical appearance. Even if you shout at them, they would still be ready to cuddle with you and provide comfort. These behaviors will teach your kid how essential it is to support their friends and stay loyal to those who love you.
When you bring a new pet to the house, you have to house train him, teach him which behaviors are admissible and which are wrong. Of course, pets take time to learn, and that shows your kids how to be patient and consistent. Once Oscar chewed my son’s brand new headphones, and I was almost sure that my son was going to be very upset. But when he got to know what Oscar did, he handled the whole situation very patiently.
The best way to teach kids the importance of being kind is to let them care for a pet. Even if you don’t want to get one for your house at the moment, you can make your kids volunteer at a shelter. Caring for an animal will teach them to be kind towards other human beings. They will learn how to extend mercy, compassion, and respect to those who are different. Research has indicated that a person’s behavior towards animals can reflect how they would treat fellow human beings. Teaching animal kindness can go a long way in raising compassionate adults.
Pets are social magnets; they attract attention anywhere you go and can help your kids connect with people. When your child takes the family dog for a walk, people will interact with him to inquire about the animal. Furthermore, pets are a topic of mutual interest among kids, so it will help your children socialize with others and help build friendships.
About The Author
Jenny Perkins is an Animal Behavior Specialist and a passionate writer. She loves to write about the nutrition, health, and care of dogs. She aims at providing tips to dog owners that can help them become better pet parents. She writes for the blog Here Pup.
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Also published on Medium.