You haven’t seen true happiness until you’ve witnessed a young child cuddling with a dog. The bond between a child and pet is making growing up a happier experience and brings joy to the entire family. It also contributes to the child’s development. The benefits of pet-child relationship go way beyond the mere playtime animation. Numerous studies have shown that kids can obtain a wide range of both mental and physical gains by having an animal in their household. It is thought that friendly animals can reduce stress and encourage playfulness, among other things. So, let us see how else pets can contribute to raising children.
Facilitating Emotional Development
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about children and their pets is unconditional love. In this special relationship, kids learn how to express their emotions and receive affection. Caring for pets teaches them empathy. Kids learn to listen and pay attention to their friends’ needs. Is the animal hungry? Is it afraid of thunder? Furthermore, a study conducted by the University of Liverpool found that dogs and cats, especially, can act as a form of psychological support, helping kids feel better about themselves and creating a positive self-image.
Raising Active Kids
On the physical side, pets, especially dogs, motivate kids to be physically active. Today, when our kids spend so much time in the house in front of computer screens, that is more important than ever. There is scientific evidence backing up this claim – children from dog-owning families recorded higher levels of activity per minute than children without a dog did. The best thing about it is that they usually spend this time outdoors.
Keeping Them Healthy
Numerous studies pointed out that exposure to a cat or a dog in children’s first year of life is making them less susceptible to respiratory issues and allergies. Also, one study found that kids in dog-owned families had less frequent otitis and needed fewer courses of antibiotics.
One of the most valuable ways pets help us raise our children is by teaching them responsibility. Taking care of the pets’ needs gives them the first glimpse of obligation and accountability, which is essential for success in education and in life. Kids that are given the responsibility of keeping their pets clean, walking them and feeding them can become more independent. Also, show them how they can order online pet supplies so that they can handle this task on their own when they become old enough.
Helping with Social Interaction and Learning
A shy child is more likely to approach and befriend another child who is accompanied by a pet. In a way, a pet helps kids who are not outgoing to find playmates. However, a pet is much more than a means to an end. Research published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology found that children get more satisfaction from a relationship with their pets than with their siblings. Also, when spending time with pets, kids tend to read and talk to them, which makes them perfect study buddies, too.
Making the Kids Happier
Kids with pets are indubitably happier. In general, animals have a therapeutic effect on kids, especially if they share a special bond. Some studies have shown that animals can reduce stress and anxiety and increase the levels of oxytocin – a hormone that produces feelings of happiness and trust. Although we, as parents, would prefer that our children come to us with their troubles and pain, they are more likely to run to their pets for comfort. And that’s all right, as long as they have someone to put a smile on their face when they’re feeling sad.
Parenthood is a herculean job and we need all the help we can get in raising our kids to be kind, honest, self-confident and responsible individuals. If a furry four-legged (two-winged or multi-finned) friend can help with that, it’s very welcomed.
All images from https://pixabay.com
About The Author:
Olivia Williams Jones is psychologist from Brisbane, dedicated to making some changes in the world, starting from her own environment. Together with her husband, she is a proud mum of two silly boxers, Teo and Mia. She is also a passionate writer about pets, parenting and healthy living. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.