As a parent, you want to instill positive values in your kids. Children can learn many important life lessons from their interactions with other people, but pets can also be excellent teachers.
Unconditional Love and Acceptance
Kids need love, and pets, who are often happy to play and cuddle, can supply plenty of it. Many children feel self-conscious because of differences between them and their peers, and bullying is a harmful and unfortunately common experience. A pet’s unconditional love and acceptance can be reassuring and comforting to a child and can build self-confidence and the ability to trust others.
Respect and Compassion
Having pets can teach children to respect the needs and feelings of others. They’ll learn that pets get hungry and tired like they do, that they feel a range of emotions, and that they have a variety of likes and dislikes. Learning to recognize and respond to the physical and emotional needs of others can build empathy and can teach children responsibility, compassion and confidence.
Patience and Perseverance
Teaching an animal a new trick, or potty training a puppy or kitten, takes time, patience and dedication. Working with a pet, dealing with frustration and setbacks, and eventually accomplishing a goal can help kids learn not to give up on others, or on themselves.
Much of human communication is non-verbal. Since pets can’t talk, they express their wants and needs without words. Learning to understand the many ways that animals communicate can help children attune to the feelings and needs of other people, even when they don’t express their thoughts in words.
Kids are often afraid of things and people that are unfamiliar. A pet that is kind and playful can help children overcome their fears. Kids who grow up with pets may never develop a fear of animals at all, and they may be eager to explore unfamiliar situations and experiences without hesitation.
Understanding of Life and Death
Children can learn that pets sometimes get injured or sick, and they may even have to confront the reality of death. The loss of a pet can help children learn to express and process their feelings and to grieve in healthy ways. If you decide to get another pet, your kids can learn that it’s possible to love again.
The Right Pet Can Help Your Entire Family
Owning a pet can provide benefits for the whole family, including countless opportunities for children to learn important values that will help them throughout life. You shouldn’t rush in to getting an animal, though. Think about the costs of owning a pet, the amount of time and attention it would require, and your family’s lifestyle to make sure you’re all up to the task and find a good match.