8 Lessons Pet Ownership Can Teach Your Child
There’s simply no denying it: bringing a pet into the family is a great way to bring positivity into your household while also teaching your kids some crucial life lessons. At its core, owning a pet is all about taking responsibility for another living and breathing being, which requires compassion, focus, and plenty of good old-fashioned responsibility. Here are a few more reasons to consider letting your child bring a furry friend into your family.
- Responsibility — For many kids, pets offer the first taste of true responsibility. They must learn how to keep their animal friend on a schedule — walking, feeding, watering, providing them with safe treats (such as bully sticks for dogs), and taking them to the vet regularly. This can help set them up for a life of success. The earlier you teach your little ones accountability and responsibility, the more likely they are to stay accountable throughout their entire life at work, school, and in their personal relationships.
- Schedule and Routine — Most animals thrive when they’re put on a schedule. They rely on having a general timeframe for when they eat, sleep, and go for walks. This helps provide animals with comfort and a feeling of safety. Kids also tend to do well when they’re on a routine. It can help them feel stable and supported as they’re going through life changes, both big and small. Be sure to emphasize the importance of keeping your pet on a routine so your kids can see that doing the same things at the same times each day can help create structure that leads to healthy habits throughout life.
- Good Behavior — Training a dog, cat, or any other animal can be a great way to help kids understand the concept of practicing good behavior at all times. While they’re dishing out the commands — and the all-natural dog treats — your little one is learning all about rewards, incentives, and following the rules. On top of teaching rewards, training an animal can also teach your kids about positive reinforcement and doing good for the sake of it.
- Financial Planning — If your kids are old enough, be sure to take pet ownership as an opportunity to introduce some key lessons about financial planning. Pets require substantial monetary investments in the form of their food, treats, medical care, grooming, and more. Make sure your children understand that pets cost money. Additionally, you can use your pet’s care as an opportunity to help your youngsters understand the concept of working for pay. For example, you might offer them an allowance for walking, brushing, feeding, and general pet care duties.
- Confidence — Pets can help boost a child’s confidence — which can in turn boost their overall happiness in life — because they help them feel loved and understood. They can also help encourage kids to be more physically fit, which can boost their confidence and encourage them to be more social with friends in the neighborhood or at school. Pets often serve as a child’s closest companionship and dearest friend, and we all know that establishing and maintaining strong friendships is an excellent way to build confidence.
- Physical Wellness — As you already know, dogs require plenty of physical activity in order to thrive. From long walks to playing fetch in the backyard to spending an afternoon at the lake jumping off the dock, kids and pets both get a whole lot out of physical fitness. Not only will it help both parties live a longer, healthier life, but it will also help them burn off energy each day so they sleep well and get enough mental stimulation to feel happy and content. Consider enrolling your pets in competitive canine sports, such as agility or dock-jumping, to help get your kids more involved in the physical side of pet ownership.
- Patience — Like kids, pets are notoriously low on the patience scale. They’re often full of energy and don’t fully understand the concept of time. But pairing pet and child is a great way to help illustrate the concept of patience and show children how good things — whether it be teaching your pet a new trick or creating a strong bond that lasts a lifetime — can sometimes take time. Kids learn quickly that some things are well worth the wait and the effort.
- Life and Death — The circle of life is one of the hardest concepts to illustrate to kids, especially toddlers and little kids. The truth is that — as hard as it is to lose a family pet — an animal’s passing often serves as a child’s first introduction to the concept of death. It’s crucial that parents provide all the right resources for a grieving child going through the loss of a pet, as this can be a devastating life event that causes significant grief and sadness. Providing your kids with the tools they need to heal can set them up to better weather losses throughout their life and to grieve in healthy ways.
Pets Are a Good Thing for Kids
The best part about having a family pet? The comfort and companionship it brings to your child. Studies show that pets can help improve mood, boost confidence, and provide comfort in times of need. They can even help decrease allergies in kids. So if you’re looking for a good reason to let your little one get a pet, don’t hesitate! Furry friends will help you illustrate the most important life lessons and they bring plenty of positivity and joy while they do it.