This is my bulldog Mugsy at about 3 months old. Although he is much bigger today, I could not help but post my favorite picture! As I was thinking about the next post for Say Think Know, I looked at my lovely bulldog and smiled while thinking how awesome pets make us feel. So how does having a pet affect children? I was curious and searched for some answers. Most of what I found was common sense. The best result with the highest credibility came from the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry – Facts for Families (see below).
Advantages of Pet Ownership
Children raised with pets show many benefits. Developing positive feelings about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Positive relationships with pets can aid in the development of trusting relationships with others. A good relationship with a pet can also help in developing non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy. Pets can serve different purposes for children:
- They can be safe recipients of secrets and private thoughts–children often talk to their pets, like they do their stuffed animals.
- They provide lessons about life; reproduction, birth, illnesses, accidents, death, and bereavement.
- They can help develop responsible behavior in the children who care for them.
- They provide a connection to nature.
- They can teach respect for other living things.
Other physical and emotional needs fulfilled by pet ownership include:
- Physical activity
- Comfort contact
- Love, loyalty, and affection
- Experience with loss if a pet is lost or dies.
In my opinion, the theme to positive child development lies in providing experiences with loved ones (including pets) which foster critical thinking, socialization, encouragement and creativity.