Skills Children Can Gain From Looking After A Family Pet
Pets are a source of much love and joy for families. Children especially enjoy and respond to the warmth and friendship they provide. A pet can be a furry best friend, partner-in-crime, companion, someone to cuddle with and much more for your child. Pets also make great teachers. They improve a child’s social, emotional, physical and cognitive development while imparting a few valuable life skills as your child interacts with them. If you are considering adding a pet to your brood, here are some of the potential skills children can gain from looking after a family pet:
- Unconditional love. Pets are non-judgemental and can be quite therapeutic for lonely children or those with emotional distress. A pet can give support and comfort as well as play with your child. This can help them learn the importance of friendship.
- Responsibility and confidence. Giving your children age-appropriate chores such as feeding, grooming and cleaning up after the family pet helps them learn what it means to be responsible. In turn, the responsibility of caring for the pet can inspire confidence. Children as young as four can help with simple tasks such as filling water and food bowls. Bathing, grooming, walking, giving cats or dogs flea treatment etc., can be the responsibility of older children.
- Empathy and compassion. As your child cares for a pet that is dependent on him, he learns empathy and compassion. Your child learns to read and recognize the pet’s needs and how to best fulfil them, especially if the animal becomes scared, falls ill or grows old.
- Patience. Children can learn patience from housebreaking a kitten or puppy or by teaching their pets new tricks. These young animals don’t learn all they need to know overnight while other pets might be slow to learn. Dealing with these situations and other instances of animal training will teach your child that patience and consistency are vital ingredients in attaining success.
- Coping with loss. Although you probably don’t want to think about this, the lifespan of most pets is considerably shorter than those of their owners. Commonly, your child’s first experience with the death of a loved one is the loss of a beloved family pet. If this is managed in a respectful way that pays tribute to the pet and acknowledges the pain and grief felt, the experience can be invaluable to children as they grow up.
Before selecting a family pet, you should make sure you inform all family members, especially children, of your decision. You should also pay attention to the type of pet you’d like to have. Some, such as cats and dogs, require almost constant care and are well suited to families. Others such as fish, birds and guinea pigs might not provide as much interaction. Remember that just like people, animals have different personalities and traits. Understand the different breeds available and get recommendations from a vet before making your final decision.
Pets can teach children plenty of skills that will help them grow to become well-adjusted adults. Add in the pure joy that pets bring and it seems unthinkable to let your child grow up in a house without one.