Pets and kids go hand in hand, but have you ever wondered what the benefits of raising children with pets around are? Sure, we know that our kids love their pets. For many of you, it’s the reason why you got a pet in the first place (now picture your son or daughter doing the sad puppy face, followed by, “can we please keep it?” – you know what I’m talking about). However, I bet there are some upsides that you didn’t even know about!
Here we outline the associated benefits of raising your children with pets in the home:
1. PLAYING WITH A CAT OR DOG CAN HELP LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE.
It’s true! Petting a pet for just 15 minutes can lower blood pressure by 10%. A study from Tombola shows that spending time with your four-legged friend releases serotonin, oxytocin, prolactin and even lowers the stress hormone cortisol.
2. KIDS WITH PETS GET OUTSIDE MORE AND ARE MORE ACTIVE – PLUS, THEY ENJOY ALL THE ASSOCIATED HEALTH BENEFITS.
This one isn’t that hard to believe. Children have energy and like to play. But, compared to children without, kids with pets spend 11 more minutes doing physical activity (per day). That’s over 4000 minutes of extra activity a year!
3. FEEDING AND CARING FOR A PET ENCOURAGES CHILDHOOD RESPONSIBILITY.
Children can gain confidence by having the responsibility of caring for a pet. It also helps them learn the importance of keeping a routine.
4. CHILDREN WITH PETS SHOW IMPROVED IMPULSE CONTROL, SOCIAL SKILLS, AND SELF-ESTEEM.
Psychologists June McNicholas found that:
- 40 percent of children sought out their pets if they were upset.
- 40 percent looked for interactions with their pet if they were bored.
- 53 percent of children like to watch TV or videos with their pets.
- When children aged seven to ten years were asked to name their ‘10 most important individuals’, family pets virtually always made the list.
Pets mean a lot to children and can even help teach coping skills and increase confidence.
5. PETS REDUCE THE RISK OF CHILDHOOD ASTHMA.
A study by JAMA showed that exposure to dogs during early childhood decreases the chances of asthma in school-age children by 13%!
6. PETS REDUCE STRESS, LONELINESS, DEPRESSION, AND ANXIETY.
Companionship can help prevent mental illness and even add years to your life. Taking care of an animal can help make you feel needed and wanted, and take the focus away from your problems. Every teenager can benefit from that!
7. PETS GIVE UNCONDITIONAL LOVE.
A pet can comfort, support, and even listen to a child’s troubles without judgment or consequence. Everyone needs that!
8. PET OWNERS REQUIRE FEWER DOCTOR’S VISITS.
Considering that pets reduce asthma and anxiety, increase activity, and lower blood pressure, this one is no longer a surprise. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology study found that pet owners “reported fewer doctor contacts over a 1-year period than respondents who did not own pets.”
I guess a pet a day keeps the doctor away!
9. THEY CAN’T TELL SECRETS.
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s difficult to deal with life as a child and adolescent. Sometimes kids need to get something off their chest, or tell a secret they were sworn not to tell. They are safe telling the family pet! (Maybe your husband or wife’s surprise party was only kept a secret because your kid had a furbaby to talk to!)
10. PETS TEACH RESPECT.
Children will learn to respect others, but they may have more consistent contact with pets before other kids. It’s never too early to learn about boundaries and respecting different personality traits.
There are many ways that children can benefit from spending time around pets, but we hope these 10 will be a starting point for you to understand how pets can influence kids for the better. Just watch the way your child reacts next time they get a big kiss from your dog or spend a few minutes petting your cat.