Today is National Kids and Pets Day. Pets can have a life-long impact on a child’s development – in a very positive way! Have you ever stopped to think about all the amazing things a child will learn through interacting with and caring for a pet?
- Responsibility: Our pets depend on us to meet all of their basic needs, including emotional ones. A child who learns to make sure their pet has food, water, bedding, an opportunity to use the bathroom, and emotional stimulation on a regular basis is developing a lasting understanding of how to be a responsible individual.
- Empathy: When children learn to think about what a pet needs and how a pet might feel in a particular situation, they are learning the invaluable skill of empathy. Empathy is a character trait that every child can benefit from throughout life!
- Advocacy: Advocacy means learning to stand up for someone or something. When we take a stand for what our pets need to thrive, we are exemplifying advocacy to our children.
- Compassion: Compassion is the concern for the sufferings of others. When our children see our pets hungry and they feed them, or thirsty and they give them a fresh bowl of water – they are learning compassion at a very basic level.
- Kindness: When adults model kindness to an animal, children are watching and learning. And pets make it so easy to be kind – because they give so much love and affection in return for our kindness and gentleness towards them!
- Love: There is no denying that pets have truly become part of the family. Not only do we love them tremendously, but also they return that love back to us -unconditionally.
- Companionship: Our pets accept us for who we are, and they want to walk through life beside us. What’s really great about a pet’s companionship is that even when things in life might be tough – a child knows they have that faithful companion ready and waiting to be there for them.
- Nurturing: Nurturing our pets allows the animals to grow and thrive in their environment. When a child sees their pet thriving, the child can then better understand the power of nurturing.
- Safety: Any child who interacts with a pet should learn skills that will keep them safe around animals. Having a pet is the perfect opportunity to teach those skills.
- Devotion: A child devoted to their pet realizes fully the interdependence of that relationship. The child can learn the importance of caring for that pet, and the child can learn how much joy a pet will bring into their lives!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS