Children with pets have an opportunity to learn some important
In an overview of
scientific studies on the subject (The
Waltham Book of Human–Animal Interaction),
Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda
"If there are
pets in the house, parents and children frequently share in
taking care of the pet, which suggests that youngsters learn
at an early age how to care for and nurture a dependent
Even children who are
extremely young are capable of helping to care for and feed
their pets, whether in tasks as simple as bringing them food or
learning how to physically interact with their pets in a
And while children
may require supervision in their first few pet interactions,
these formative lessons in compassion, consent, and thinking
about life beyond themselves can be crucial in terms of
teaching some basics on
empathy that apply to animals
and humans alike.
Caring for animals offers a hefty set of responsibilities,
whether it's in respect to tasks as mundane as filling a water
bowl or achievements as major as teaching your dog a new skill.
performing these tasks can lead to a sense of personal
fulfillment, competence, and independence.
As Endenburg and
found that children's self-esteem scores increased
significantly over a nine-month period of keeping pets in
their school classroom.
In particular, it
was children with originally low self-esteem scores who
showed the greatest improvements."
Spending time with pets can be extremely rewarding from a
practical standpoint, whether in terms of acquiring linguistic
skills or improving oral competency.
Many children even
love to conduct "story time" with their pets, reading aloud to
their cats or dogs.
might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal
skills in children.
This would occur
as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient
recipient of the young child's babble and as an attractive
verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in
the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment."
Animals can provide unmatched emotional support, weakening
negative feelings and providing positivity like no other.
In fact, researchers
found that many children make a bee-line for their pets whenever
they are stressed. For kids and adults alike, our pets provide a
source of unconditional love and support.
As we know well, us
complicated humans can often muck up a situation with criticism,
judgmental attitudes, and sarcasm - something our animal friends
are never capable of.
5. A Keen
Understanding of the ‘Cycle of Life'
For too many families, a discussion of concepts like birth and
death is a real challenge that often doesn't come until the
death of a loved one - be it a child's grandparent, an elderly
relative, or a family friend.
And with such losses
come major pain and even life-altering trauma. However, children
with pets can often learn important early lessons on the
difficulties of life and
inexorable nature of death.
Endenburg and Baarda
"The way in which
their parents and others near to them deal with the
situation will have an influence on how children cope with
death in general throughout their lives.
At the other end of an animal's life is birth.
For most children
the birth of animals is an exciting moment that can give
parents the opportunity to explain how life begins and can
form part of sex education."