Most kids feel a natural connection to animals. Whether it is a goldfish, a cat, or a dog, young children are typically fascinated by animals.
Many parents are concerned that looking after a pet can be hard work. Animals require a lot of attention, cost money, and can make a lot of mess. However, animals are great companions for both adults and children and can have a significant impact on a child’s social and emotional development.
Developmental Benefits of Raising Pets
Pets can have a very important role in your child’s development. Research shows that pets can teach kids responsibility, improve their empathy, self-esteem, and coping skills, and boost stress management. Also, raising pets can teach children how to express their emotions and form strong and healthy relationships.
How Animals Improve Social Skills in Children?
Studies have proven that raising a pet, especially a dog can boost your child’s social and emotional development. For example, animals can help introvert, shy, and reserved kids, come out of their shell, and become more open. Shy children are normally inhibited and anxious in unfamiliar situations or when interacting with unfamiliar people.
Extreme shyness may hinder your child’s opportunities to develop social skills, gain new friends, and participate in fun and rewarding activities. Also, shyness may cause high anxiety levels, increased feelings of isolation and loneliness, and weaken your child’s self-esteem.
Raising a pet can help your child build stronger social skills and gain confidence, and become more assertive.
Animals and Kids with Autism
Children on the autism spectrum struggle with socialization and have a hard time interacting with other children and adults. Research has shown that companion pets help kids with autism function better socially. One study showed that people with autism smile a lot more when they are around animals. Animals alleviate anxiety levels, and social stress, improve confidence and help kids with autism engage more fully with other people.
Pets are often used as a part of therapy for autism spectrum disorders. While animals cannot cure autism, they do help kids (and adults) with autism build communication skills, cope with anxiety, and relax, and feel happier.
While dogs are most commonly used as therapeutic animals, other animals can help boost social skills in children too. Every child is different, so follow your child’s interests and get him a bunny, cat, bird, rodent, or lizard instead.
Children tend to feel secure and safe in the presence of their pets. Knowing that they can count on love and companionship of their pet helps kids feel more optimistic, valued, and self-confident. Kids who are attached to their pets have a stronger sense of commitment to their family, better self-control, and stronger empathy skills.
Finally, raising a pet helps children understand a life cycle and accept death and grief as natural life processes.
To sum up, animals can teach your child essential social and emotional skills, such as responsibility, commitment, empathy, and family bonding. Raising a pet is also a great way to nurture your child’s resilience and stress-coping skills, and teach them empathy.
Take care and keep healthy and positive,