Children and pets are a natural combination. Through the years, our golden retrievers tagged after the boys across the yard, through the woods, and even off the end of the dock into the lake for a swim. Having access to a best buddy, especially one who never talks back, is a gift for a kid.
While companionship is wonderful, the advantages of pet ownership include life skills a child can take into adulthood. Caring for a pet teaches a child how to be nurturing and kind. These are training tools for kids in their friendship making skill set. A pet gives a child something to share with other children, a common place to start a conversation.
Responsibility lessons come from having to feed, water, and exercise a pet. Setting up a schedule for changing water, supplying food, emptying a litter box, and so on provides a concrete plan for pet care. (This, of course, takes parent supervision.)
Add exercising the pet to the list of pet care chores. Your child might just be healthier because of the family pet. Taking the dog outside to play encourages the child to spend more time outdoors and moving.
Children and pets are also a comfort to one another. Developmentally challenged children and those with learning disabilities benefit from therapy pets. From abused children to those struggling to read, kids find a pal and a support in a family pet.
If your child is having difficulties reading, have him curl up with the family dog to read aloud. Having a nonjudgmental listener will ease the child’s anxiety and provide a safe place to practice literacy skills.
Whether it’s a cat, dog, fish, hamster or other pet, think seriously about how you and your children can benefit. If you already have pets, encourage your kids to become more involved in the care of the animals. Pets are good for everyone in the family, and they are a lot of fun!
Becky Danielson, M.Ed., has two of the best job descriptions, wife and mom. She is also a licensed Parent & Family Educator, co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting, and the co-author of Raising Little Kids with Big Love and Raising Big Kids with Supernatural Love along with Study Guides. The series is available on Amazon. Becky and her family live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Subscribe to the parenting newsletter at FaithFirstParent.com and the quarterly newsletter at 1Corinthians13Parenting.com for parenting tips, strategies, and resources to equip and encourage you on your parenting journey.