If you have been umming and ahhing about whether or not to get your kids a pet, this article may sway you in the direction of ‘yes’. While kids tend to only focus on the fun aspects of having an animal in the house, parents know that patience, energy and expense are inevitably going to be involved. But once you have gotten over the initial ‘settling in period’, you will find that your pet becomes an important member of the family.
First of all, you need to choose what type of pet is right for your family. If you are thinking about getting a pooch, here are 5 steps to choosing the best dog for you. However, you need to be aware of the level of commitment involved in owning a dog. Cats tend to be more independent and are another popular choice. And then you have the smaller pets like rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters and gerbils. So, here are just a few of the reasons why you should consider getting a household pet.
Playing with Pets Encourages Kids to Get Outdoors and Exercise
Dogs are especially great animals for encouraging kids to get outdoors and exercise. Before you get your furry friend, it is a good idea to explain to your kids that the will need to play their part in making sure it stays healthy by going out on regular walks. This provides them with just the excuse that they need to get outdoors on a regular basis and away from the screens that dominate our lives these days. And playing with your dog is a great social activity that the whole family can enjoy. The same goes for cats, and you can easily getting them running around with you outdoors chasing a bit of string or a mouse toy.
Pets Have Positive Mental Health Benefits
As well as all the physical health benefits that we have just discussed, pet owners can benefit from a range of positive mental health effects as well. First of all, pets have been shown to reduce anxiety in kids as there is always someone waiting at home who is happy to see them and can help to comfort them when they are feeling down. Even though they can’t respond, many kids feel comfortable talking to their pets and sharing their problems with them as well. And this, in turn, helps to boost their self-esteem levels. Kids can also learn a sense of empathy from animals. They will begin to understand that if they are kind to their pet, they will receive a similar level of treatment themselves. This is an important life lesson that they can carry with them.
Pets Teach Kids a Sense of Responsibility
It is a good idea to teach your kids a sense of responsibility from a young age and having a pet helps to do this. Obviously, you have all the basics that they need to know including changing the litter, walking, and feeding them, but kids are heavily involved in the life of their animal from the start, choosing them in the first place, training them, and caring about their wellbeing. In fact, many vets find that kids give them the most useful information as they spend so much time with them and take an active interest in how they are.
Pets Can Help Control Impulses of Kids
When your child has a pet, they learn very quickly about what it takes to interact with another living thing. They also learn to control their impulses as they discover that it is not okay to simply grab an animal whenever they feel like it. This is the kind of lesson which can transfer in a positive manner into other areas of life. Again, it all comes back to building the sense of empathy and understanding that we discussed earlier in the article.
Boost of the Immune System
Studies have shown that kids who grow up in homes where there are pets have less risk of developing many common allergies and asthma. Not only this, playing with animals has been linked with a lowering of the blood pressure – something which could end up benefiting you as well as your kids. In general, pet owners require fewer visits to the doctor and there is some evidence that there is a strengthening of your kids’ immune systems.
An Additional Bond Between Siblings
If you have more than one kid and you are worried about them bonding, getting a pet may provide the answer that you are looking for. The sharing of love and care for a family pet may forge an extra close connection between siblings. You may see them working together in regular activities such as taking the dog out for a walk. And they have a mutual interest in keeping your pet as healthy as it possibly can be.
Pets Can Reduce Stress
There is so much evidence that cuddling pets provides stress-relief that some universities and educational institutions are bringing them in during exam periods. So, as they get older and start to experience stress for different reasons, you may find your kids turning to their furry companions to help them calm down. And when you have had a long, hard day at work, you may also want to considering going to your pet as your first port of call!
As you can see, there is a myriad of different physical, mental and emotional benefits involved in pet ownership. So, if you have been sitting on the fence over whether to get one or not for your household, this article just may have swayed you over the edge. Obviously, you need to make sure that you are in a position to look after an animal properly and give them a good home. But if you feel like this is the case, getting a pet is a decision that you are unlikely to regret.