At some point in your child’s life, they are going to ask you that common question.
“Mommy, can we get a pet?”
Now, your first instinct may be to say no. Not only is there the expense, with vet clinic bills and the extra food shopping, but there is the extra work that needs putting in to effectively raise whatever animal your child is wanting. However, for your children’s sake, there are benefits, so before you say “no,” consider the following.
- A pet teaches your child responsibility. While you may have to take on some of the pet care yourself at times, you should still make it clear to your child that if they want a pet, they should also look after it. By taking on the required tasks, be that feeding, grooming, or walking, this will build confidence in your child as they learn the various skills that are required, and they will learn the very necessary ability to properly care for somebody’s needs beyond their own.
- A pet gives your child unconditional love. The world can be cruel, and for your child, this is amplified on the school playground, where judgement and criticism are common. However, a pet shows no judgement. Such pets as dogs and cats will show your child love, even when others don’t. With a welcoming paw, a lick on the nose, and an eagerness to play, your child will always have a friend who loves them.
- A pet can improve your child’s health. On a physical level, a dog is perfect for exercise. With regular walks and games of fetch in the park, your child will finally get the fresh air they have been missing, and have the opportunity to undertake some easy exercise. Studies have shown that owning a pet can also boost your child’s immune system, so there will be less sick days to worry about when they catch colds, etc. And on an emotional level, your child’s pet can prove to be therapeutic. Studies have shown pets can lower blood pressure, and bring down stress and anxiety levels in children (as well as adults), thanks to their calm, reassuring presence.
- A pet teaches your child the cycle of life. If there is a common rule within life, it’s that we will all die at some point. While this is a difficult concept for us all to grasp, it’s particularly difficult for children. And so it is with our pets. It can be traumatic seeing them grow old and die, but this can help your child deal with some of those complex emotions that come with trauma and grief. While it’s not an easy lesson to learn, it’s still a very useful one.
We are sure there are many other benefits to having a pet in the family, so the next time your children ask you for that dog, cat, rabbit, or goldfish (not so good for play and exercise), consider giving in to their demands. Despite the hard work, your children will thank you for it, and you may well enjoy that extra addition to your family as well!