One of the most oft-cited reason for pet abandonment is that there has been a new human addition to the family.
It is sad that in many countries, a joyous event for the family often turns into a tragic turn of event for the furkid—when, in fact, keeping a pet within a loving home can make your child a better person in many ways.
It doesn’t always have to be Pet versus Baby. theAsianparent tells you why having a pet can make your child a better person in more ways than one.
1. Pets decrease the chance of developing allergies.
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Many family doctors are quick to advise their patients to get rid of their pets to prevent allergies and complications. Sadly, this well-meaning advice is often dispensed even before any real symptoms of allergies are present.
New studies have shown that exposure to pets, especially in the first year of life, decreases the chance of the child developing pet allergies later on in life. The first year is a critical window for desensitizing your child to pets as his immunity develops.
So, do your child a favour and keep your pet around early on so that he can experience the countless joys of a furry companion later on in life.
2. Pets strengthen children’s immunity against various diseases.
Not only is the incidence of pet allergies reduced, the risk of contracting various diseases also goes down. In the same way that exposure to pets from an early age desensitises the highly plastic immune system to allergies, it also matures the immune system so it is better equipped to fight disease-causing microbes.
This by no means indicates that you should neglect your pets’ hygiene in an effort to bolster your kid’s immunity! What it does mean is that the naturally occurring bacteria that a healthy pet carries are not virulent enough to cause any real problems and might in fact “train” the immune system to recognise and react well to more potent strains.
Pets give children the best comfort, anytime, anywhere.
3. Pets help impart values
When the little one is rough with your pet, as toddlers are wont to do, it is a great opportunity to introduce empathy by asking questions like “Would you like it if I pulled on your ears like that too?” It teaches toddlers that even if a living thing does not look or behave like us, their well-being and feelings still need to be respected.
As your child matures, you can allow him to gradually take over simpler duties of pet care such as refilling the water dish daily or bringing the dog out for regular walks around the vicinity. This teaches the child responsibility.
Values are most effectively acquired through experience and reflection, helping to make your child a better person—these are opportunities that having a pet offers.
4. Pets help build children’s self-esteem
There is also much evidence to suggest that having pets allows children to build healthy self-esteem. Pets, especially enthusiastic puppies or dogs, display an overwhelming amount of affection and loyalty to family members. Children who may sometimes feel misunderstood or lost in the world of grown-ups, can take solace in their furry friends’ unreserved love and affection.
What could be better for a child’s sense of his place in the world than to have someone waiting for him at home every day, eager to lavish all his attention and affection on him?
A home with a pet is a home that never lacks love.
5. Pets aid in healthy emotional growth
If you have a more reserved pet, like a bunny, chinchilla, or even a tortoise, they can still be enormously beneficial to a child’s emotional development, too.
Companion animals have been found to be so useful in bolstering a child’s emotional intelligence that many programs use them as therapy for special needs or autistic children, helping them to integrate better into society.
Children often talk to pets, just as they would their stuffed toys, seeking solace in their non-judgemental presence. This one-sided conversation allows children to better come to terms with their own emotions and externalize their thoughts. Their understanding of their own emotions will often improve as they talk them through with “someone” who will always listen.
Children who do not have an outlet for their emotions could develop behavioural problems such as hitting or becoming little tyrants.
Having a pet benefits a child’s emotional health and allows him to socialise better, which feeds back into his self-confidence and overall happiness. Your child becomes a better, happier person many times over.
Pets teach our children about the cycle of life.
6. Pets teach the cycle of life and death
The concept of the cycle of life can be a difficult one to grasp for young children. While the death of a pet can be an uneasy time for the family, it introduces children to this inevitable facet of life.
When a pet dies, children develop coping strategies and go through the motions of the grieving process, emulating adults. Questions about where their favourite companion animal has gone or why it no longer exists create the first building blocks of the child’s understanding of his own existence and the mortality of his human loved ones. As he matures, he builds upon this foundation, developing a more complex understanding of life.
7. Pets improve family bonding
Lastly, pets are great facilitators of family bonding. As every member of the family fusses over them, they become a central point of focus and a common topic of conversation across generations.
Pets also make family activities more appealing, especially when the children become teenagers and hanging out with mum and pops is no longer quite so appealing. If your pet is an active, outdoors type who loves nothing better than a good romp and warm sunshine, include him in family outings!
Abandoning a pet because of a new addition to the family is really a lose-lose situation for the entire family. The numerous emotional, psychological and even physical benefits of pet-rearing are now backed by scientific research that debunks old-fashioned myths. Indeed, having a pet can make your child a better person.
Do you have your own stories of how your pet contributes to your happy and loving home? Tell us in your comments below!
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