How Pets can Encourage Childhood Development
It is a childhood rite of passage to fall in love with the on-screen bond between Man and his Best Friend… and to subsequently beg our parents for a puppy. We’ve all been there when we were children. And now your children are doing the same.
But getting a pet is a huge decision! We get it! There are a million concerns running through your mind: What if your child develops allergies? What if you get stuck with the sole responsibility of cleaning up after it? What’s the point of getting a pet?
If you’re a parent (or teacher looking to introduce a class pet) who aren’t so familiar with the benefits, and possible risks, of bringing a pet into your home, we’re here to clear some of your doubts! If you are familiar with pet-rearing, stay anyways for pictures of dogs wearing clothes.
First up, why bother getting a pet? (Maybe your children will get over their obsession with puppies in time just as you did?) Well, there are the obvious reasons to get a pet: pets are super cute and will most definitely boost your Instagram likes.
But, beyond that, pets have time and again proven to have significant impact on the physical, emotional, and mental health of their human companions. This is a lifetime friendship that you might want to seriously think about!
Engaging with pets can improve verbal skills and boost self-confidence
All pet owners can vouch for this when I say that we talk to our pets. Owning a pet isn’t just an endless cycle of petting and feeding time — you’d be surprised at how much verbal and nonverbal communication weaves itself into the daily lives of pet-owners!
We find that it can be particularly important interaction for young children to have a companion that they can constantly talk to and play with. While younger children are naturally inclined to come up with make-belief adventures involving their pets, and older children can practice their literacy skills on reliable listeners!
Take a look at the journey of Story Dogs, an Australian non-profit organisation that fosters up to 130 therapy dogs whose purposes are to help children overcome the fear of reading aloud.
Kids can practice reading aloud to rabbits, birds or even fishes! Any pet is more than happy to support simply by listening. Additionally, this doubles as a bonding activity as the pet gets accustomed to the sound of your child’s voice! Win-win!
Caring for pets can nurture responsibility and compassion
We are entirely accountable for the wellbeing and health of our pets. On a daily basis they require food, water, exercise and a place to go potty. Something as simple as filling up their pet’s food bowl can give children a strong sense of importance.
Helping out with a pet’s daily needs can also serve as a gateway to easing children into a habit of performing household chores.
Cleaning up after a pet is as important as playtime — it can’t always be fun and games! Having an animal around the house means it is im-paw-tant to take care of all its needs, whether it be cleaning the enclosure or picking up after its poo. Giving the kids positive feedback after accomplishing these tasks can boost their self-esteem too!
Other values that pets teach us are empathy and compassion. When caring for a pet, it brings the child’s focus away from him or herself. Instead of focusing on what children want for themselves, they learn to be less self-centred and more outwardly warm-hearted. This is by no means a new concept! Even way back in 1699, Philosopher John Locke encouraged children to care for animals so that they could “be accustomed, from their cradles, to be tender to all sensible creatures.”
In addition, having a pet is a brilliant way for children to learn to read body language and nonverbal cues. It’s how our furry companions communicate with us! When a dog wags its tail, starts pacing around the house or runs towards the door, it will get the child thinking, “What do they need and what can I do to help?”
Pets are a source of comfort
There is more to comfort than simply cuddling up with our pets. Pets can provide mental and emotional support which are especially helpful for children who are more withdrawn. There has been a rise in therapy animals in recent years, and rightfully so!
Petting animals and showing physical affection to them releases a number of “feel good” hormones such as endorphins and oxytocin. These hormones are known to make us feel happy and calm. This can result in a myriad of benefits including reduced stress and blood pressure.
A strong immune system is vital for children and adults alike! And many researches have shown that children of pet-owning families tend to develop a greater resistance to certain allergies.
According to a study, growing up with multiple pets may lower a child’s chances of developing several allergies.
The children in this study had fewer positive skin tests to both indoor and outdoor allergens, such as dust-mites and grass respectively, if they had pets growing up. Other studies have even suggested that an early exposure to animals may reduce the chances of a child developing asthma.
Dr. Ownby has a theory as to why:
“When a child plays with a dog or a cat, the animals usually lick him. That lick transfers bacteria that live in animals’ mouths, and the exposure to the bacteria may change the way the child’s immune system responds to other allergens.”
Another health benefit is exercise! This is a more obvious advantage for dog owners as they have to bring their pooches out on daily walks. If your pet is the indoorsy kind, there are plenty of play ideas for you too!
What You Need to Know about Introducing a Pet into Your Home
Okay, so I’m guessing that about 93% of you are convinced that pets are the one thing that’s been missing from your life this whole time. Or not, that’s cool too.
But if you are thinking seriously about getting a pet, it is imperative to do as much research as possible to ensure that your pet can thrive under your care. It isn’t a job to be taken lightly!
We’ve curated are some informative articles on taking care of common household pets to give you an idea what entails being a pet-owner!
If you are thinking of bringing a dog home, consider adopting before making a trip to your local pet store. Many people tend to underestimate how much time and energy it takes to raise and train a puppy. A great advantage about adopting an older dog is that you’ll be fully aware of the dog’s temperaments to see if it matches your family’s lifestyle!
In search of the purr-fect companion? Look no further! Cats are pets that are entertaining to play with but are also fine with being left alone. Similar to dogs, think about adopting first! A cat’s personality rarely changes once it reaches adulthood, some display active and kitten-like behavior throughout their lives! Do you want a lazy and cuddly feline or an energetic and playful one? We’ll leave it up to you.
Hamsters are a very popular first pet for kids. They may seem easy to handle but require more than we think!
ErinsHamsters is a great YouTube channel that has informative videos, covering everything under the sun about being a hamster owner. There is also a ‘taming process’ hamster owners should go through as it promotes trust, preventing instances of hamsters biting or jumping off the hands of children. Remember to be extra gentle when petting these little critters!
These adorable fluffs make wonderful family pets! A point to remember is that bunnies should be treated as bunnies, not a dog nor a cat. They have their own specific set of care requirements. One pointer is to never give your rabbit a shower — they are obsessive cleaners, just like hamsters, and brushing their fur is more than enough. Giving them showers can make them sick and cause severe distress. In the wild they are prey animals, so be extremely gentle and always strive to help them feel safe and cozy!
Many people are under the perception that common turtles we see in pet shops are easy to own because of how small and cheap they are . This is not the case at all! Turtles are best suited for outdoor enclosures but if you want to keep them indoors, get ready to provide them with a huge setup, UVB bulb, heat lamp and much more. There have been too many cases of owners abandoning turtles in public ponds when they find that they can’t provide for them anymore. Only get turtles if you’re ready for a lifelong friend as their life expectancy can go up to 50 years!
Having a furry, scaly or feathery friend at home can be wonderful thing for you family. However, it’s really quite im-paw-tant to do your research before buying or adopting a pet. Domestic animals such as dogs vary greatly among breeds — in terms of temperament, lifestyle, and nutritional needs. Strive to be as prepared and informed as possible about the needs of your pet!
Pets require commitment and attention, but they are worth the immense positivity they bring into our lives. Remember that before anything else…