Bringing a pet into your home – and your heart – offers so many benefits. Laughter, love and joy are three wonderful things I have an abundance of, thanks in large part to my three cats. Pets provide companionship to the lonely, and they can be great teachers for children too. Encouraging children to take an active role in caring for a pet helps them learn important life skills and lessons, while also learning about responsible pet ownership. Here are eight essential skills the family pet can teach your children.
Giving children age-appropriate chores related to feeding, grooming, and cleaning up after the family pet helps them understand what it means to be responsible, dependable and conscientious. Taking care of a pet teaches children the importance of being reliable, since the pet is counting on them to provide what they need. At the same time, tasks like bathing, brushing and grooming can deepen the bond between pet and child.
Patience and Consistency
House-breaking a puppy or a kitten can teach children to be patient, because young animals do not learn everything they need to know overnight. Some pets are slower to learn than others and thus require more time and effort, but consistent methods are a vital element of training success. Having your child help with the pet’s house-breaking and other training helps them learn that patience and consistency will pay off in the end.
Goal Setting and Perseverance
Children can learn about the process of goal setting and achievements by being involved in training a pet, be it for house-breaking, performing tricks or obedience training. When they put in the persistent effort these things require, they’re not only rewarded with a well trained pet, but an increased sense of pride and self worth at what they have accomplished.
As pack animals, dogs do best in a household where there is a pack hierarchy and an established leader. Although that person should ideally be an adult, you and your dog can teach your child what it means to be a good leader, one who your dog willingly and happily follows.
Having a pet in the family opens the door to a wide variety of emotions that are very important for children to discover and articulate. Pets can help children learn to express feelings of love, compassion, caring and concern. And experiencing the sadness involved in saying goodbye when a pet passes away, helps children learn to deal with loss.
Although kindness is not exactly what I would call a “life skill,” I’m including it because, of all the things pets can teach children, I think it might be the most important. Children who are taught to be kind to animals grow up to become compassionate adults who treat both humans and animals with kindness and respect throughout their lifetime. That, in my opinion, is a priceless lesson to learn.
So you see, pets can teach children a great many skills that will help them grow up to become well-adjusted members of our society. When you add in the pure delight pets can bring to a child, it seems unthinkable to let them grow up in a house without one.
Read more articles by Julia Williams
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Pet Foods.