Having animals in the home can be such a pleasure, but it can end up being a pain for the parent who may already be overburdened in between everything going on with work and the schedules of the children. For this reason there are quite a few things to consider before giving in to your kids demands to get a pet.
Lessons That Pets Teach Children
Apart from being really loyal to your children, a pet can teach a child a sense of responsibility. You take care of your child’s every need and if they do not learn to take responsibility for another little life, they may grow up learning that someone will always be there to take care of them. Giving a child a pet is a great way to teach them to take responsibility for their own actions and how these actions directly influence someone else. They also learn nurturing skills from keeping their pet happy and healthy especially when they are being properly supervised by and adult when they are taking care of their pet.
It may seem like a small thing to bring a pet into your home, but giving a child the responsibility of looking after a pet teaches them the fundamental lesson that they are not alone in this world and how to empathize with another living being. They learn to see the world through a different perspective and that they do not only live for themselves but that there is someone that is dependant on them being alive and well. Pets and children have a bond that is not found anywhere else in the world. These animals become an integral part of their universe and in their imaginations; these pets go with them on the most amazing adventures.
Children also learn subtle hints of non-verbal communication from their pets as their pets give them cues on how they are feeling without being to tell them and they can later on apply these hints to communicating with other people.
Occupational therapists have also learnt that pets teach children to become curious about how their pets feel and they learn empathy for these animals which they then later on in their lives can apply to the rest of the world around them. Children who grow up with pets become a lot more understanding of the feelings of others when they become aware of the social interaction around them.
A pet can give the child a sense of acceptance, because no matter what the child does or how well or poorly they are doing at school or sport, their pet will still be happy to see them and accept them merely for the fact that they spend time with them. This gives the child the sense of unconditional love that they may not get from the people around them or their parents.
When a child goes through changes like their parents’ divorce or a big move to another city, they may come out the other side much stronger when they have a pet to confide in. These animals often become the child’s confidant and listens to them at a time where everyone else may be too caught up in their own problems and help the child through this difficult time.
Best Pets For Children
Choosing the best pet for your circumstances and your child may not be quite as simple as it may seem at first glance. You would want to get a pet that your child will feel comfortable with, but the animal itself also needs to be comfortable as well.
If you live in a freestanding home with a big yard in a safe neighborhood where you can take a dog for a walk regularly would be perfectly suited for a big dog. Your child will also need to be comfortable with the idea of having a big dog around. If your child is scared of dogs, a big dog may not be such a good idea even if you get it as a puppy.
If you live in an apartment or a home with a small yard, you may want to look at a smaller dog if a dog is what your child wants. The reason why many children are so drawn to dogs is because a dog is just always so excited to see you and just wants to spend time with you all the time and this is excellent for an only child as well.
If your child is allergic to dogs or is not comfortable with all of that energy or if your home is not conducive to having a dog around, you may want to consider getting a kitten. Although kittens do grow into cats, they can also be loyal and lovable creatures despite what many think. They can let themselves out and in again so you don’t have to worry about them getting enough exercise and if you live close to a really busy road, you can have a litter box inside for them as long as you clean it often. Cats are easier to house-train than dogs and they can give just as much pleasure to your child as a dog can. Many people have misconceptions about cats.
There is also the lower maintenance option of getting a rodent as a pet or a pet fish. These smaller pets don’t take up as much space as the other types of domesticated animals and they are lower maintenance although they may not be as cute or cuddly. If you do not have the living arrangements to accommodate dogs or cats, or if you are not allowed to have these types of pets where you live then a rodent or a fish may be the better option because these animals still need taking care of and they will still teach your child responsibility because they do still need care and compassion.
Benefits Of Pets
- Pets have a positive effect on a child’s emotional development by teaching them empathy and learning how things fit into relationships in society.
- Pets can help children with learning by being companions when they have to sit and read. Teaching something you are learning about is often the best way to learn and remember something and pets provide the perfect audience.
- Pets provide comfort and unconditional love and support.
- Pets teach responsibility by needing the child to take care of them and feed them and comfort them when they are scared.
- Pets calm children down.
- Pets provide company for an only child or for a child who does not get along with siblings.
- Pets can bring families together because the gives the parent and child something in common that they can do together.
- Pets are the keepers of secret thoughts and stories.
- Pets can teach children valuable lessons about life such as reproduction, birth, or death.
Getting The Wrong Pet
Because choosing the perfect pet is more complicated than many parents think, many animals have had to be re-homed or have had to go to animal shelters which add to a problem that is already overwhelming.
It is important that your child is happy with the animal that is chosen and that the child becomes as much a part of the decision of the animal as he would be in the caring process. When a child is included in the decision of which animal to take, they will automatically feel more responsible for the pet.
Some children are highly allergic to domestic animals and getting a cat or a dog for your allergic child may cost you more in the long run on allergy medication. You should consult your physician first.
Getting an animal that is hyperactive and causing trouble in the home can be avoided as well by doing proper research about the breed of animal and the temperament of the animal’s parents. A rodent which is an escape artist may become problematic when you have other animals in the home or if they can get into furniture where they may not be able to escape from. A Jack Russell in a small apartment may also prove to be a problem as these dogs need a frequent exercise and extensive stimulation to avoid them becoming bored and tearing the home apart.
When your child is still a toddler, you will have to help the child to take care of the pet and the child will have to be constantly supervised while in the presence of the pet. As your child grows older they will start to understand with your guidance that the animal must be treated with respect. Exposing your child to animals at an early age is not a bad idea, but you should not do this if the child cannot be under constant supervision to avoid accidents.
Health Issues Caused By Pets
With society being so set on the home and working environment being clean to the point of being sterile it is not difficult to believe that there are a few health risks when it comes to bringing animals into your home where there were no animals before.
Animals go outside and they pick up a wide variety of germs which they then bring into the home and spread. Apart from this, animals are fond of licking children in their faces and when you think about where the animal’s tongue has been it becomes a good enough reason to not have any animals near your home.
Dogs and cats can also pick up fungal infections such as ringworm outside when they are digging in the soil and this can spread to you and your children and is not always a pleasant pest to get rid of.
There are many other diseases that can be spread from animals to children but then there are also diseases that animals can contract that make them aggressive and they will then be dangerous for your child to be around.
All of these health problems can be countered by making sure that your pet has his regular inoculations, has a check up with the vet regularly and is kept clean by washing him once a week. A lot of health problems and dangerous germ problems can also be avoided by making sure that animal waste is disposed of properly so that it does not lie around the yard.
Health Benefits Of Having Pets
It has been discovered that they psychotherapy benefits of children with pets go beyond the usual bond of friendship.
We are so preoccupied with getting rid of germs that we sometimes forget that we need germs in our lives so that we can build up immunity to infections. Our children also need germs to help them build up their immune systems. It is important to teach them to wash their hands regularly and especially after they have been playing with their animal friends, but we should not be over-protective about the germs they will pick up from their pets.
Preschool children who grow up with animals in the home often are more likely to share and cooperate. They learn to put themselves in the shoes of the animal because the animal cannot tell them how they feel.
Animals can also buffer the child from loneliness which is often the catalyst for depression. There are many children suffering from depression and the ages or these sufferers are becoming younger. Having a pet can help to counteract this problem.
If your circumstances are not primed for having a pet in the home, you could visit animal shelters where they nurse injured animals back to health for release. This could be a powerful experience for your child and they will learn the responsibility of caring for another living being without you having to take over the responsibility on the days your child doesn’t feel up to the challenge. In this way the child will also learn about their connection with wild animals and nature and that we have a responsibility towards these creatures. If a child sees the consequences of someone else’s neglect, they are less likely to perform these acts and they will grow up teaching these lessons to those around them as Well.