Owning a pet might be something your child is begging you about, and it’s a big decision to make, especially if you have a young child. Although owning a pet might seem like just another thing for your child to play with, it can actually benefit your child in a number of ways. Here are four ways that owning a pet can really benefit a child, which can teach the child things you and the classroom can’t.
Owning a pet is very helpful for a child because it can benefit their self-esteem, which is important for building confidence. If you have an only child, then getting a pet might be what he or she needs, because a pet is like a best friend that never leaves you. Your child will be able to play with the pet when everyone else is busy, can listen to your pet when they want to just have someone to talk to, and will kiss your child or comfort them when needed. When I was little, I had two cats, and honestly I felt like sometimes the cats were the only people I had to talk to. Animals are loving creatures that will help your child through the hard times, especially if they feel like they don’t have friends at school or in the neighborhood. Your child might also read to your animal, which can boost his or her confidence in school when it comes to reading or basic communication, and that can also help boost social skills.
Teach Respect About Living Things
One thing about pets that a lot of people overlook is how they help you understand and connect to living things. If your child owns a pet, then he or she will recognize how diverse and special animals are in Mother Nature, and it can really teach your child about how to respect the animals that live among us. If you have a smaller child, having an animal can teach the child about respecting the boundaries of living things, respecting their bed and habitat, and also general respect about how to pet or care for an animal. I think owning a pet more than anything teaches your child about empathy and compassion, because animals have feelings and emotions like people, and if you hurt them then you will know it quickly. You see children picking up cats and carrying them like dolls, but if that cat don’t want to be held a certain way, you bet the claws will come out. Then, if the child gets scratched, they learn a lesson about how to not carry the cat because it’s not how you should hold an animal.
One of the best benefits to a child is the concept of learning how to be responsible, especially if your child is old enough to start taking over the animal care. If you get a cat, you can slowly teach your child about how to clean the litter box, how to feed the cat, and how to bathe the cat. Any animal you get will need the basics like food, water, shelter, and play, which are all important responsibilities of pet ownership. Now, you shouldn’t just rely on your child to do all the work or to tell you when things need to be purchased, so you will still need to keep an eye and oversee their duties taking care of the animal. Your child will learn that these animals rely on them to feed them or brush their hair, and then will learn that you should always keep your word when someone else is relying on you. When I was seven I got my first cat, and that taught me a lot about how it is to take care of something else, and also made me respect my parents even more for taking care of me.
Teaches Your Child the Circle of Life
Finally, owning a pet can allow your child to better see and understand the circle of life, meaning birth, illness, and death. A young child might not understand all of the things related to taking care of an animal, them getting sick or hurt, and the process of death, but it’s a way to start the conversation. You can teach your child about how to take care of a young animal, then relate it back to when they were little, and it might help you explain how being brought into this world happens. Animals are a lot like people, so they go through a lot of the same life events that we do, and this is important for a child to see. You want to be able to talk to your child about how to take care of a sick animal, what the veterinarian does and how they help animals, and it can help you begin the talk about the end of a life. If your child witnesses your animal dying, then you can have that conversation about the end of life process, the stages of grief, and how the whole process is similar to what they will experience with family and friends of their own. You can talk about how animals go to heaven just like people if you wish, which also might help you talk about other subjects such as religion. However you decide to handle it, animals really can teach your child about the circle of life, and it will be up to you to utilize that opportunity.