Until I was 11 years old, my mother refused to let me have a pet. It didn’t matter if it was a fish or a dog, she refused. Once I was 11, she finally caved in because a family member had to get rid of their dog and she didn’t want to see the dog sent to a shelter.
Having divorced parents was a benefit in this instance though because my dad always had pets. Growing up we had several dogs and cats, snakes, lizards, iguanas, fish, hamsters, and almost anything else you can think of, and I loved it.
Not that I am an adult, I have learned that there are a lot of benefits to growing up with pets.
It is amazing to watch how my daughter interacts with my cat. They have even done studies to show that therapy cats and dogs help developmentally challenged children learn better. Children know that animals won’t judge them and they are often more comfortable in front of cats and dogs than in front of adults or even other children.
I don’t know about you, but when I am petting my cat or my dog, my stress just seems to melt away. I don’t have to worry about anything during that time and I know if I have to stop, my pets will still love me. Many kids will even turn to their pets when they are feeling sad, mad, or angry.
Kids learn from example about how to treat others, so watching you take care of your pets helps your kids learn how to be nurturing. It is good for kids to learn this when they are younger and it will help them learn how to treat a new baby sibling should be treated. Something else to consider is that playing with baby dolls is considered a “girl” activity, so often times boys will lose out on the practice of nurturing, but taking care of pets is a gender neutral activity so both boys and girls can get involved.
Similar to how they encourage nurturing, growing up with pets helps children learn responsibility. When your child is old enough you can have him or her start being responsible for feeding your pets and making sure that they have water. When they know that their pets are depending on them they will learn that it is important to take responsibility for things.
Keeping Kids Healthy
There has recently been some research showing that kids who grow up with pets in the house are less likely to develop certain allergies. No one is really sure about how this works, but there has been a direct link to kids who are exposed to animals and a decrease in indoor and outdoor allergies.
Build Family Bonds
Anyone who has a pet will tell you that their pet is like a part of the family. Growing up with pets helps build family bonds because it is a family affair to take the dog for a walk or play with the cat. These activities help to grow family bonds and grow your family closer.
It is important for you to move as a family to help build healthy habits. If you have a dog, the dog needs to be walked and you can always go for a walk as a family. This will help to get the whole family moving and it will be the foundation for a healthier lifestyle.
Childhood can be hard, especially ask kids grow up to become teenagers. There will be times when your child feels left out and like she doesn’t have any friends, but when she comes home she will know that her pet is there to be a friend when she really needs one.