Whether you are being harassed by your kids for a new puppy or contemplating getting a family pet yourself, there are more benefits than just the cuteness and companionship that furry friends have to offer. It is thought that growing up with pets can greatly improve the mental well-being of children, even those suffering from problems such as emotional distress and anxiety. This is because being around animals provides kids with a safe place to feel loved and express love (even if non-verbally) without feeling judged.
A dog or cat can communicate affection in the form of playing or licking just as a child communicates his or her affection by petting the animal. This exchange can be therapeutic and calming because there is no pressure to perform or verbally communicate feelings, which can be hard for some children.
In a similar way, pets can calm children down when they feel frustrated and have trouble conveying their feeling of distress. Often, these children resort to bullying other kids in order to dispel their own insecurities. By befriending an animal, a stressed out child has a safe place to talk about his or her troubles and fears without feeling like a bad person who will be told off or corrected. This shows children that they do not have to project their own negativity on to others in order to feel better.
Taking care of an animal who is dependent on their owners can also teach children responsibility and understanding. The child learns that having to care for a living being involves planning, dedication and sacrifice. While smaller kids can contribute by filling water and food bowls, older children can help give the pet a bath or walking it. Kids also learn how to read wants from pets’ actions and learn how to help provide for them. For example, your child learns when your pet is scared and how to make it feel better, when it is hungry, when it needs to be walked – which makes them generally more empathetic.
Animals can also improve children’s’ verbal communication. Babies often gravitate towards dogs, cats and even birds trying to communicate with them using sounds. So pets help children to communicate and practice talking. And of course various studies have linked having pets to lowering blood pressure, speeding up recovery time, and reducing stress, which is beneficial to kids as well as adults.
What do you think, are you convinced? What is your experience if you already have a pet? Leave a comment below. Please like FamiLife’s page on Facebook so that you get all our articles and others may find us.