Children and pets are a natural fit. With their shared love of romping around, merriment, and quiet snuggle-time, pets and kids seem made to live together. But beyond the advantage of helping burn off a little excess energy, playing and living with pets has deep benefits for kids. From improved self-esteem to a sense of respect for living things, owning a pet can help your child grow into a considerate, caring adult.
Kids and pets just go together - How will pet ownership help your child?
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, pets offer the following important benefits for kids:
- They help kids develop responsible behavior and care-taking skills
- They are a safe place for kids to share their thoughts and secrets
- They offer a real bond with the natural world
- They teach respect for animals
- They provide opportunities to learn about the life process—birth, death, reproduction, health and recovery, etc.
Pets also offer plenty of love, affection, and physical contact. They give kids a chance to think about what it’s like to be different, and to wonder how a dog thinks about and perceives the world. Large pets give kids the chance to run and play, walk in the woods with a trusty companion, and throw balls and Frisbees.
Spending time with a pet can also open up social doors for a child. They might meet other dog owners at the dog park or on the street and get to practice talking to people of all ages. And if your child has a hand in caring for the dog, they might develop an interest in animal health or grooming.
When it comes to learning how to treat animals, parents are powerful role models. Show your child how to act with a friendly cat, how to greet a strange dog on the street (ask its owner first!), and how to play with the family dog. They’ll pick up your behaviors and turn into world-class pet lovers in their own right.