Kids ‘n’ Pets: the benefits of children living with pets

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Most of us have grown up with pets and can’t imagine life without them: The cat that slept on our beds; the dog that waited patiently at the gate until we got home from school. And now some of us have kids whose pets do just the same thing!

Children and pets have a special relationship. While the pet is often entertained by having a child around there are also many benefits for the children in having a pet in their home

  • Children develop a respect for animals when they live alongside them and this helps prepare them for later life. The child learns about the responsibilities in caring for another living creature – even if they don’t always follow through with their tasks!
  • Children with pets are popular with their peers. The antics of a pet can make good topics of conversation, good school news items and children even learn to read body language from watching their pets.
  • Children interact more with other members of the family when there is a pet in the house. More than half of families with young children undertake physical activity as a family at least once a week by walking their dog.
  • Pets can help balance the increasing presence of technology. A pet is a good reason to turn off the computer or video game and have a play or a cuddle. Most children report enjoying playing outdoors with their pets. In fact, it’s second only to playing with friends in the entertainment stakes.
  • Pets provide unconditional love. Pets hold a special status in children’s lives with 95% of children nominating pets among their ten most important relationships.
  • In some homes the child sadly does not get the opportunity to nurture their pet, to tell their secrets to their special furry friend or to get a chance to receive that all important unconditional love. This may be because they do not have a pet of their own or their circumstances make it impossible to carry out these activities.

It is generally accepted that if you want to change the behaviour of your population it is best to start with educating the children. Let’s keep the relationship between children and pets a special one.

Article courtesy of Dr Joanne Righetti
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