It’s inevitable! If you have kids, sooner or later you’re going to hear: “Mommy, Daddy— can we get a dog? Cat? Rabbit? Goldfish? Hamster? Well, you get the idea.
Kids and pets just seem to go hand-in-hand, and there’s actually some science to back up the synergy. Unless allergies are a major concern, experts in the area of childhood development say pets provide lots of benefits when it comes to child rearing.
Not only do our furry, feathery or fishy friends offer constant companionship and unconditional love, but they also teach responsibility. For the very young, watching you set an example caring for the family pet teaches nurturing. Even toddlers can help you feed Fido and that shows the importance of compassion. Older children can take on more of the daily care by cleaning up after their pet, walking and bathing them as well. This creates self-esteem as your child learns that he or she is an active, necessary component in keeping the family pet healthy and happy.
Put a pet in the mix and experts say kids more easily interact socially with one another, tend to develop motor skills sooner through play and improve cognitive skills because interest levels for reading and researching about their pet tend to rise.
If you are thinking about getting a pet, just remember it’s an important decision that shouldn’t be made lightly. Having a pet is a big commitment and the pet picked should be age appropriate for your child/children. But if you and your kids are willing to make that commitment, the years of joy you’ll receive are worth every effort.