February 21, 2012

A Special Kind of Love

If you are a parent, your child has probably, at one point or another, begged you for a pet of his or her own. A bunch of reasons to say ‘No’ may have started to run through your head: They aren’t old enough to handle the responsibility, What if this is just a phase, You’ll be the one who ends up taking care of this new pet, or You simply aren’t ready to add another pet to the family.

Silence your inner thoughts for a moment, and listen to these reasons why getting a pet for your child may be one of the best things you can do for them.

Owning and caring for a pet offers many benefits to children, here are just some of the  advantages:

  • Studies show that children who have an attachment to a pet tend to be better emotionally adjusted, and have higher self-esteem than children who grow up without pets.
  • By caring for and nurturing another living thing that depends on them for survival children learn empathy and compassion.
  • Positive reinforcement from parents about a job well done caring for their pet builds self-confidence, and helps children feel more competent and take pride in being responsible.
  • Pets offer a source of non-judgmental companionship and unconditional love and support.
  • Though none of us want to think about losing a pet, when the time comes to say good-bye to a beloved pet, helping your child to understand and cope with feelings of sadness and loss when a pet dies can influence how he or she copes with death through the rest of their life.

These are just a few of the larger life lessons that come from owning a pet during childhood.

Though your family may not be ready to adopt a larger pet (like a dog, cat, or horse), you shouldn’t disregard the idea altogether. Small animals, like fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards, birds, etc. all make great pets for children.

Did you have a pet as a child? What was it? Do you agree there are benefits associated with growing up loving an animal? Let us know in the comments! 

Information provided in part by Healthy Pets with Dr. Karen Becker.

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