Written by: Devon Houtz
Parents always say the most important job is raising their child. One of the highest points of the parental career is the day they look at their offspring and see an adapted, functioning member of society. As soon as the little one is born, the countdown begins until the child will be on their own, taking control of his or her life.
How does a parent ensure their grown up kid understands what it is to be a full person? Animals.
Pet care requires a great deal of responsibility and the ownership of a pet is an excellent educational tool for children. By the age of three, children can interact with their pets using their voice and small treats. They can help fill a pet’s food and water bowls. Children at this age have the ability to respect boundaries of their pet by keeping their distance when the animal is eating. This can all take place in the safety of the home so parents are able to control the environment and ensure their kid is learning safely.
Some families may think three is too young for a pet, however, it’s important to note that there are advantages of pet ownership even for infants! Ganesa Wegienka, Ph.D and her colleagues published a study in Clinical & Experimental Allergy proving that teenagers who lived with a cat during their first year of life had a 48 percent lower risk of cat allergy than their peers, and the teen boys who lived with a dog had a 50 percent lower risk of allergy. So, not only will a pet teach a child some crucial life lessons as they grow up, exposure to a beloved animal will lower their risk of suffering from allergies! The advantage of a pet extends to special needs cases, as well. A French study has shown that autistic children who received a pet at age 4 or 5 were better able to share with others and comfort those in distress. And what about parents who see their children come home from school, angry with their classmates or rejected by friends? Allen McConnell at Miami University Journal of Personality and Social Psychology performed a study dealing with affect of pets versus friends. McConnell states, “one’s pet was every bit as effective as one’s best friend in staving off social needs deficits”
Pets are bountiful resources for parents. The little things that are easy to be overlooked like exercise or chores are made easy with a pet. Taking the dog for a walk is a fun way for children to stop watching television and get outside. Cleaning the rabbit cage or litter box establishes a routine of chores for kids, vital for their future understanding of duty.
Besides the usefulness of pets as teaching aids, animals play a large role in a happy childhood. Books and movies are written every year detailing the love and bond an owner shares with his or her pet. Not only will an animal in the home create a perfect catalyst for responsible behavior and pave the way to adulthood, pets are loveable creatures that a child will look back on with fond memories and adoration.
A pet in the home is a rewarding experience for both parent and child.