Kids with pets are healthier
There are numerous health benefits in living with pets. People with pets have lower blood pressure, less risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol, and are more physically active. These benefits also apply to kids, from walking the dog to playing with the family rabbit in the garden, having a pet helps to prompt a healthy lifestyle for their young owners, encouraging them to be outside and running around. Plus, research shows that children who grow up in homes with pets during the first year of life are likely to have a stronger immune system and less likely to develop childhood allergies and asthma. Dr Dennis Ownby, a paediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia has a theory: “When a child plays with a dog or a cat, the animals usually lick him,” he says. “That lick transfers bacteria that live in animals’ mouths, and the exposure to the bacteria may change the way the child’s immune system responds to other allergens.”
Kids learn responsibility and empathy for others
Kids have to take care of their pets as best as they can. They would most likely be responsible for making sure their pet is properly fed and never lacks drinking water. Including children in pet-related tasks is a great way to impart the lesson of responsibility. By assigning age-appropriate tasks, kids learn how important it is to follow through with their duties. Pets think, feel and have physical and emotional needs just like humans do. Children should be reminded to treat pets with care, play gently with them, and respect their need for space. When parents teach kids to approach pets with kindness, love, and compassion, this easily translates into treating other human beings the same way. Looking after a pet teaches responsibility and helps children develop empathy for others.
Kids learn to nurture
Nurturing isn’t a quality that suddenly appears in adulthood when we need it and being nurtured as a child isn’t teaching it too. People practice being caregivers when they’re young. Besides taking care of younger siblings pets are one of the best ways to plant a seed of good parenting skills during childhood. Nurturing animals is especially important for boys because taking care of an animal isn’t seen as a ‘girl’ thing like babysitting, playing house, or playing with dolls. By age 8, girls are more likely to be involved than boys in baby care both inside and outside their homes, but when it comes to pet care, both genders remain equally involved.
Kids with pets are happier
Growing up is not always the easiest, many obstacles can come our way. But having a pet makes it easier. Pets never judge, never tell your secrets, and always look at you as though you are the smartest, most important person on the planet. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that kids with pets are less likely to suffer from anxiety and have more self-confidence than those that don’t. Having a pet can also help ward off feelings of loneliness and isolation, and keep depression at bay. Pets can be especially important in offering companionship to kids who don’t have siblings. Children find comfort, support and security from their animal companion.
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