I have always grown up with pets from as far back as I can remember. We’ve always had dogs or cats or rabbits or any combination of those and so when the decision to raise my own children with pets came up — it was easy to answer: Yes!
I’ve seen my kids grow in many ways thanks to pet ownership, which I only noticed when we adopted cats of their own. When they were born, we had two cats, Puff and Ming-Ming, but they were mine and always just kind of “here” according to the kids. When we had them involved in adopting our cats now, they started seeing these cats as theirs and I’ve seen a lot of benefits of pet ownership for them.
If you’re debating getting a family pet, but you’re on the fence, here are 7 benefits pet ownership has for kids:
1. It teaches kids responsibility
Even small kids have some of the responsibility for taking care of your pet and that responsibility teaches them a lot. Have your child responsible for making sure your cat has water or to change the litter box one day of the week. Your children can make it a priority of theirs to walk the dog at least once a day or make time to brush their coat. Having responsibility in chores with something that matters — like the comfort and life of a pet — can go a long way in teaching your child about doing hard work and pulling their weight.
2. It teaches kids about compassion
In our everyday, the way we talk to our children and treat those around us helps mold who they are and how they treat others. One way you can help your child learn more about compassion and caring for others is through their pets. Dogs, cats, rabbits, and even smaller pets can show your child compassion, forever love, and in turn, they can learn from them also.
3. Your child has someone to bond with
There is something special about having someone who loves you unconditionally. Sure, you love your children, but there will be times they don’t want to talk to you — which is why it’s a huge benefit to have a pet. Our pets are amazing listeners and can tell us so much without even having to say a word. They seem to know exactly when you need a cuddle or a kiss and never judge you — and your kids can benefit a lot from that kind of love.
4. They have fun stories to tell
I remember when I was young, we had a dog named Spotter (yes, he was a Dalmatian, what gave it away?) and one of my most favorite memories as a child was playing baseball with him — he played like a real child. It’s a fun story I love to tell and it’s come up more than once in conversation when I’m needing a funny story. Pets have great character and even their “bad” stories make great stories.
5. Pets encourage your kids to exercise
Some days, it can be difficult to get your children to get off their video games, away from the tv, and exercise outside. If your child has a pet, they’re more likely to exercise during the week because their pet needs to exercise to stay healthy. Also, walking with your pet is more fun than on your own.
6. They can’t ever say “I’m bored”
When you have a pet around, there is always something that needs to be done. Whether that’s changing the litter of a hamster home, feeding the fish, taking your dog out for a walk, or cuddling your ferret. For your child, who has a pet, to say they’re bored means they have done all those necessities and cuddled and loved the pet. Your kid will still say “I’m bored” even with a pet, but you’ll always have a pretty easy comeback: Go play with your dog!
7. There are noted health and social benefits of having a pet
We’ve all heard that having a dog is good for your health and that works for children too, both physically and mentally. According to Help Guide, pets can lower your blood pressure, keep your risk of developing depression down, lower your visit need to a doctor, and so much more.
What are some benefits you’ve noticed your children get from having a pet?
Photo credit: adapted from gareth1953 the original |Flickr
Devan is a freelance writer living in Toronto, Ontario, with her husband and four kids. No, those aren’t her kids’ real names — they’re online pseudonyms. Read more from Devan on Babble as she dishes about babies, pets, and love + keep up with byDevan on Facebook and Twitter!