You’ve been thinking about getting a pet—a playful kitten or a rambunctious puppy—for your child.
Isn’t that a beguiling idea? But kittens and puppies grow up and become cats and dogs, so taking care of any pet, at any age, requires a full-time commitment. Parents hold differing opinions, but, in the end, and according to experts in child psychology, seeking out a pet might be the better option!
It’s true: Raising children with pets not only teaches them responsibility, but it’s a beautiful opportunity to give them something exciting to focus on, not to mention developing strong emotional connections.
“Having a pet to take care of helps create empathy, compassion, and non-verbal communication skills.
When they have a pet, kids have statistically done better in social groups. Scientists and psychologists alike have undertaken countless studies, trying to figure out why and how pets have such a profound affect on children.
The RAND Corporation compared 22 child- and pet-related studies, and its ensuing article, “Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence,” found plentiful evidence for an association between pet ownership and a wide range of emotional and positive health benefits.
“It could have something to do with the unconditional love that pets give their pint-size owners.
The study also found that within six months of adopting a pet, kids between the ages of 8-12 had increased confidence, regardless of whether it’s a pet kitten or puppy, and that pet ownership gives them a sense of self-importance and makes them feel good about themselves.
However, when a child feels ungrounded, they understand only that their world is falling apart, with no notion of normalcy ever returning. Sometimes all that kid needs is some sort of structure, like taking a dog for a walk, or feeding their pet three times a day, or having something alive to hold onto when times are tough.
A pet may not magically solve all your child’s real or perceived problems, but it can give them a purpose that ensures long-term benefits and stability. We could all use a little more unconditional love and affection, and nothing provides that more than a beloved pet!