Life Lessons Kids Can Learn From Owning a Pet
Children are like sponges – they are constantly taking in and absorbing things around them. It’s important for them to start learning about responsibilities and how to care for something other than themselves. Pets can be a great way for children to start learning these traits, while adding a new furry friend for the whole family to love.
What kids can learn:
- Responsibility: Depending on how old your child is, he or she is capable of helping to care for the pet in different ways. Parents shouldn’t expect the child to take on every aspect of caring for the pet, or at least, not immediately. Children who are toddler-aged to 7 years old can be involved in the pet’s routine by feeding the pet with you, or going on walks with you and the pet. Children aged 8-14 are able to take on a little more responsibility by feeding and cleaning up after the pet as chores. Parents should still oversee that the child is performing the tasks appropriately. Even the most mature children may still need guidance.
- Healthy living habits: Your pet will need exercise, and so you and your child will be encouraged to live a healthier lifestyle by exercising with your pet. You’ll spend more time outside instead of behind screens on the couch. By playing and engaging with your pet, you’ll see the value of living a healthy lifestyle, and learn a balance of TV time and outside play.
- Behavioral Awareness: Children of different ages are aware of different things. Having a pet can teach them how their actions affect others and animals around them. Teach young children how to approach animals safely. Show them how to interact with them pet in a gentle manner so they understand how they can be a part of the pet’s life. By building this confidence in your child, they can learn independence by forming a connection with the pet.
- Self-confidence: Your new pet will love your child in a different way than any person ever could. This new love will reinforce a sense of meaning and self to your child. A pet is always present and welcoming no matter what kind of day your child had. The pet accepts your child as they are, and constantly reflects love back. The company a pet can provide can be profoundly important for kids as they navigate the ever-changing tides of early adolescence.
Before adopting a pet, ask a veterinarian what type of pet would best suit your family. Be aware that there are extra costs when taking on a new family member. There are medical fees, food, grooming, and other extras that can add up over the course of a year. Look at your financial situation before agreeing to adopt a pet. It’s not fair to the child (or the pet) to introduce a pet to the family, and then have to give the pet up due to a lack of planning.
The extra cost and time spent will be well worth the important life lessons that your child will learn. As well as the love that your whole family will receive from adding a new fuzzy family member to your home.