Do you remember the first pet you ever owned? I remember being 5 years old when I got my first pet; a blue betta fish named Rainbow Blue. I was thrilled to have this little fish that was all mine. Every day I made sure to feed it and attend to its needs. Eventually, I got pet crabs and then a dog! Each pet we owned gave me confidence as I cared for them. It also helped me create memories that have lasted a lifetime. I learned many skills from these experiences that have helped me become a more well-rounded person. Here are a few insights from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry that share how caring for a pet can be beneficial for children.
Benefits of Caring for a Pet:
Owning a pet can teach responsibility. Children take care of basic things like cleaning, feeding, and walking their pet. Routines are created as children learn what they are expected to do each day to keep their pet alive. They see their hard work pay off as they teach their pet new tricks and the house rules.
Owning a pet can ignite a connection to nature. Whether a child has a fish or a pet that needs more attention like a cat, they can learn about the native places these animals used to live. Take this opportunity to find books or videos that talk about the ocean, jungles, and desert places. Owning a pet gives them a chance to see the beauty of nature up close. It helps children learn more about their interests and who they want to become.
Pet ownership can teach lessons about life that are hard or uncomfortable. Pets can get sick, be happy, upset, die, give birth, and grow up. When children have the chance to watch something they care for go through the various stages of life, it can help them cope with the difficulties that arise for them.
Special pets can be safe recipients of private thoughts of children. An animal can become a child’s best friend and be someone they share private emotions with. Children commonly do this with stuffed animals, but it can be helpful when they have a pet to share their true feelings to.
Be mindful of picking a pet that is age appropriate. We can’t have a 100 pound dog knocking over a toddler! Pets can form great memories with the family, and it’s important to pick one that fits in best with your lifestyle. Make sure it’s a pet your children are excited about getting and they are prepared to care for it.
These are just a few of the benefits of owning a pet. Children can look back with fondness at the memories they created with an animal in their home. If you are unsure if a pet is right for your family, take some time to visit the dog park, visit a family or friends house with a pet, or walk in an animal store. This will help you get an idea of the kind of responsibility and joy a pet can be.