Did you have a pet growing up? A dog, a cat, or maybe even something more exotic? Well, as it turns out, spending your childhood with a pet can have many benefits beyond the more obvious aspects such as close friendship or instilling a love of animals and nature. Raising a pet can have an immense positive effect on your child, and here are a few reasons why.
Pets can make you healthier.
Several different researches have shown that kids with pets have less allergies. According to the studies, early exposure to pets might help the body build itself defenses against allergies and asthma. These kind of statements should, of course, be taken with a grain of salt as many other factors should be taken into consideration.
Still, it does seem to be effective. One possible reason for this finding is the “hygiene hypothesis”, which suggests that when you grow up too clean, your immune system can overreact to allergy-inducing substance. Early exposure to dogs and cats can assist by teaching the body how to handle such substances without causing harm.
Pets can help you make friends.
According to one study, pet dogs can enhance feelings of well-being and act as catalysts for human interaction. The study showed that walking around with a dog increased the frequency of social interactions.
Interestingly, the researchers made sure to test various daily activities in various locations (not only dog-walking areas) and even changed the participant’s appearance and dressing style. Even though there were differences between, for instance, dressing smartly and scruffily, the greatest difference in amount of interactions was between having and not having a dog next to you.
Pets can help build better relationships and communities.
Another study, concerned with young adults, asked participants about their attitudes towards animals as well as about their development. The study seemed to show that the more attached the participants were to a particular animal, the more likely they were to describe themselves as confident and empathetic and to contribute to community activities, to help friends and family and more.
As Tufts professor Dr. Megan Mueller explains, there is not necessarily a causal link, which is to say, perhaps people who tend to want animals are also people who tend to be more sociable. Still, it does suggest that having a good relationship with a pet can have a great influence.
While you sit to think about all these benefits and decide which kind of pet you want to get your kids, why not enjoy our new series of 3D animation for kids? It’s all about animals and you can even sing along!
Pets can make your family closer.
Having a beloved family dog at home is not only great for the kids – it’s great for the parents too, and indeed for the family as a group. A pet can help the family bond over shared activities and responsibilities. You can take it for a walk together, you can play with it in the yard together and even just sit around at home and pet or groom it together. Simply put, a family pet is yet another thing which you all share a mutual love towards and which help define you as a group and not only a set of individuals.
Pets can help your emotional development.
It is well established that pets can teach children responsibility, but as far as feelings go, pets can do much more than that. Some claim that having a pet at home can increase children’s sense of security and companionship, and even ease separation anxiety.
With children who are coping with things like hyperactivity or stress, pets can be a calming factor in their lives. Same goes for children with learning disabilities, who can benefit a lot from the dog (or cat’s) calming effect. No doubt, having a source of unconditional love – besides parents, who apart from showing love can also show anger and give orders – can make a huge difference for some kids.
Pets can teach you about nature.
Urban children know all about iPads and cars from day one, but unless you put a specific emphasis on it, how will they even learn about the more rural aspects of life? True, just walking the dog daily is not exactly the same as milking the cows every morning and living on a farm, but for starters, your child will be exposed to a different type of creature, quite different to him or herself, and realize that life on this planet is not all about computers. You can use various opportunities to teach your children about the animal world – not to mention the excuse dogs provide to get out of the house and spend some time among trees and grass!
Do you raise your children with pets?
How do you feel they contribute to the kids’ development? Tell us in the comments!