If you look through your child’s toys and bedroom, you might find an assortment of animal toys, clothes, decorations, movies, books, etc. It’s not a secret that many children love animals. Based on a study by Gail F. Melson, professor emeritus of developmental studies at Purdue University, an estimated 4 in 10 children begin life in a family with pets. As many as 90% of children will have a domestic pet at some point in their life.1
Studies have shown that having a pet in your child’s life is beneficial to their physical, social, and cognitive development. Here are some benefits of growing up with pets:
1. Builds confidence
Therapy animals have always been used to help children with learning disabilities to learn. All children can benefit from being in the presence of a nonjudgmental friend.2 They are less likely to stress over reading a story to their furry pal or share any personal stories that they might not feel comfortable sharing with others. Your child will increase their verbal skills as they speak to their pets who will listen with no judgement or consequence.1 Pets can not only provide emotional support for your child but also build their cognitive language skills.
2. Provides comfort
Animals are a great source of comfort. Children often find solace in their pets and are often less anxious and withdrawn than children who don’t have pets.1 Pets also give unconditional love, regardless of what your child shares with them. They will provide your child with a safe space to voice their frustrations and fears, alleviating their stress or anxieties.2
3. Encourages nurturing and empathy
Pets can help your child to develop the ability to care for others. Regardless of their gender, children are all equally involved in taking care of their pet.1 This is a good way to let your child practice being a caregiver while also building empathy. They learn how to read their pet’s needs and help them when they can.
4. Teaches responsibility
Your child will learn the importance of responsibility as they manage simple tasks like filling their pet’s food and water bowls or grooming and walking them. As they take on the responsibility to take care of their pet, it can also build their confidence and allows them to take on more challenging tasks in the future.
5. Keeps your child healthy
Pets can also keep your child mentally and physically healthy. They provide comfort and reduces stress and anxiety, which is beneficial for your child’s mental well-being. Studies have also shown that interactions with their pets can lower blood pressure and speed up their recovery time.2 Having pets at home can also help decrease your child’s risk of developing certain allergies. They might build immunity against certain indoor and outdoor allergens, and early exposure to pets may decrease their risk of developing asthma.3 Children with pets also get outside more as they bring their pets out for either a walk, run, or play.
6. Strengthens family bonds
Pets, unexpectedly, can help bring a family stronger and closer together. They are usually the focus of activities that families do together. Whether it is bringing the pet out for a walk with your family, grooming or feeding, or even just watching your cat or dog chase its tail, spending time together while relaxed is a great way to bond with your family.
Pets can help with your child’s development
Having pets in your household will help to foster your child’s emotional, cognitive, social, and physical development. Your child will have a nonjudgmental confidant to find comfort in while learning about responsibility and building confidence. They’re a comforting and loving addition to your family. Here is a little guide you can check out to see which animal would be the best pet to bring into your family!