The idea that pets make our lives better is almost universally accepted among adults. Many studies have shown that owning a pet leads to improvements in both mental and physical health, from increasing exercise to providing comfort through secure attachment. It makes sense, then, that there are many significant benefits of pets for child development.
So, how can a family pet help your child? Here are the key physical and emotional health benefits that a pet can bring to kids.
Benefits of pets for child development
Benefit #1: Emotional health
Kids form a special bond with their pets, often coming to consider them a best friend. Having a beloved animal around, whose comfort and enthusiasm they can rely on, offers a great boost to their self-esteem. A pet can also combat feelings of anxiety and loneliness, providing an enhanced sense of emotional security.
Benefit #2: Behavioural development and responsibility
Taking on responsibilities can help children learn to become independent and accountable for their actions, and this behavioural change is one of the key benefits of pets for child development. Let your child take responsibility for caring for their furry friend to help them grow in confidence, independence and helpfulness around the house – in baby steps, of course! Tasking them with poop cleanup or tidying up toys is a great place to start.
Benefit #3: Social development
Anyone who owns a pet will know that when they’re upset, you’re upset. Looking after and bonding with a pet can help kids develop important social skills like empathy and compassion.
Benefit #4: Academic success
While pets won’t tutor your child or help them read and write, research has found that pets can lead to improvements in numeracy and literacy skills. This benefit has been discovered through observing improvements to kids’ academic performance following classroom visits from dogs. While this is a new area of study, it is believed that the reduction of anxiety, improvement of self-esteem and instilling of a greater sense of responsibility that pets bring all contribute to better results at school.
Ultimately, having a pet brings a range of social, emotional and physical health benefits to both you and your kids. Whether it’s a cat, dog, rabbit or bird that fits best for your family, the benefits of pets for child development may just see you bring forward the day that you introduce a new member to the family!
No pet yet, but want to brighten and broaden your child’s world? Take a look at our range of books for kids here.