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A quick look through a children’s store will show just how much children love animals. Gracing everything from books and TVs to soft toys and games, animals feature heavily in young children’s lives. Perhaps this is why so many kids are eager for a pet - whether it be a dog, horse or a remarkable reptile. There are plenty of reasons why this is a great idea. As well as providing entertainment for your little one, studies show that growing up with a pet keeps your child healthy and greatly aids your child’s emotional and cognitive development.
Having a pet immediately teaches your child the importance of responsibility. Even if you do the vast majority of the work, your child will watch as you clean, feed, and look after your pet, teaching them valuable lessons in the process. They will inevitably help out at some point, whether it’s filling up their water bowl or walking the dog, gently showing them how to look after something else.
Having a pet encourages play, and children will read and interact with them, helping their verbal and cognitive skills. Animals are often used in therapy for kids who struggle to learn, showing how valuable they can be for your children. Many children can read their favourite stories to their dogs, rabbits or cats without feeling shy or inhibited, allowing them the freedom to enjoy learning.
Having a non-judgmental, loving companion reduces stress and anxiety in children, giving them a meaningful relationship that differs from that of siblings and parents. It helps socially withdrawn children, encouraging them to engage with those around them as they have a ‘safe’ companion they can go to if they feel anxious or stressed. Conversely, a pet that often becomes stressed or nervous due to stimuli such as fireworks or strangers can provide the tools children need to nurture their emotional development.
Having a pet that is entirely dependent or often anxious teaches children empathy, kindness and compassion. They learn how to understand and respond to their needs, increasing their emotional intelligence and how they relate to others.
A pet such as a dog or horse encourages outdoor play and will provide plenty of exercise opportunities. Studies have also shown how having pets can reduce the risk of developing allergies and asthma from a young age. Not only this, but by being exposed to more bacteria from your pet, young children develop healthy and robust immune systems.