Why Pets are Good for Kids
Chris and I aren’t pet people – it’s as simple as that. Sure, when I was a kid I went through it all, from my first fish, before upgrading to a guinea pig, then the rabbit, followed by the cat and dog. My parents were pet people, and with four children, I believe they were nothing short of saints. Once we reached a certain age, they let us all choose our own pets, and they kept it up for years. I knew my own children wouldn’t be so lucky, which is why I am so thankful for my parents.
Turns out, Chris isn’t a pet person either. He had a dog growing up, and we both agreed that one day, far down the track, we would let our kids have a dog too, for the simple fact that they have so much to teach kids about responsibility and life. In the meantime, my parents have a dog, Rex, and a cat, Annie, and Cassie can’t get enough of both of them. So far they have both taught her (or are at least in the process of teaching) about kindness and how to be gentle with others. My mum and I often use “gentle hands” and when Cassie does lash out in excitement, we tell her to be gentle, and then go and pamper the animal she hit, so they get the attention – not her. As she gets older, I know owning a pet has so much more to teach Cassie.
This was the big seller for us when we tried to convince Mum and Dad to get us a dog as kids. We promised them everything. We would walk the dog, we would feed the dog, we would pick up after the dog, we would wash the dog and anything else it required. These were all skills we had learnt from having smaller pets in our lives in the years before. From guinea pigs to rabbits, we each took responsibility of our own animal and made sure they were fed, their cage cleaned and looked after.
There have been a number of different studies that have been done over the years that show that introducing your kids to pets early on can prevent them from developing allergies down the track. However, there have also been some conflicting studies suggesting otherwise, so I wouldn’t be rushing out and buying a pet based on this.
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It’s something I know I definitely did as a child, and other children will have done as well – used their pet as a source of comfort. When I was feeling angry at my parents or siblings, upset over something that had happened, or just genuinely needed some time out, I would escape to my pet, cuddle them close and share all my troubles with them. I was able to vent out in the open without judgement and always felt so much better being able to express those feelings rather than keeping them bottled up.
Owning a family pet is also a great way to strengthen the bond you all have together as well. It is a great chance to organised activities focused around the pet, like throwing a ball in the yard or going on a walk, and getting some quality family time in the process.
It’s a simple fact, kids love pets, and whether you start off small with a goldfish, or go for the family favourite with a dog, each animal has so much to teach about responsibility and caring for someone other than yourself. These are all things I hope both my girls learn down the track – I just don’t think I can be as brave as my parents and let them have numerous small pets running around the house. So a dog for them it is when they are old enough, in the meantime, we will be shipping them off to their grandparent’s.