Most of us have registered with a website and were asked to select a security question. A common one is "Name of your first childhood pet?" This is the perfect question because the answer is unforgettable. Our pets, especially when we're young, play an important role in our lives – they are our friends, our family, and our partners in mischief.
If you've ever seen kids and pets goof around, it's pretty clear that children just have a special way of bonding with our four-legged family members. The bond children form with their pets isn't just an enjoyable experience, either. Studies show that having pets around the home has a positive influence on kids' growth and development.
If you have kids and are considering adding a pet to your family, here are a few things to know about the benefits of pairing children with pets.
It might sound weird, but pets can have a positive impact on children's health. That's right! Pet ownership has health benefits for kids.
For starters, our furry family members lighten the mood and provide us with comfort just by being around. But that's not all. Children who grow up around pets tend to:
- Experience better general health
- Be more physically active
- Have stronger immune systems
- See a reduction in allergies
- Have a reduced risk of developing asthma
Pets have been linked to having a positive impact on a child's mental health as well. Children who are raised in homes with pets are likely to:
- Be more obedient
- Experience less moodiness
- Have fewer behavioral problems
- Encounter fewer learning problems
From a stronger immune system to help reducing stress, pets benefit our children in ways that we may have never intended. Most people adopt a pet for the family companionship, but, as it turns out, they end up with so much more!
As children grow up, they learn to interpret and interact with the world at an early age. Studies show that during this critical time – a child's formative years – having a pet interact with a child can have a powerful effect on their development. Raising a child in a home with a cat or dog is shown to have a positive impact on:
- Cognitive development
- Social skills
Studies have also shown that having a pet, especially a dog, can have a positive impact on children in the classroom. In fact, having a dog around inspires children to read to their pet, teaches them responsibility, and helps them develop empathy, while also improving the child's attitude toward school.
Children with Disabilities
For children with disabilities or other disorders, like Autism, studies reveal the value of having an animal in their lives. Both companion animals and regular pets can help children who have been diagnosed with social disorders improve their social awareness, increase social interaction, and help them be more receptive to their peers.
A familiar furry friend can also provide the child with a level of safety and comfort in stressful or foreign situations.
Fun Activities to Do Together
When it comes to pets, the best reason to have them around kids is all the fun they can have together. If you have kids and a furry family member or if you are going to add a pup or kitten to your home, check out these fun activities for your kids and their pet companions!
Fun with Dogs
When it comes to playtime with our pups, there are so many possibilities. Here are a few fun games and activities for your kids to do with your pooch:
- Fetch – Throw a stick, a ball, or Frisbee and have your pet retrieve it and then repeat
- Tug of war – Just like in gym class, but with your dog
- Blowing bubbles – Blow some bubbles and let your pet do the popping
- Hide-and-seek – Loosely defined, this game usually results in running and lots of silliness
- Agility – Set up some obstacles (get creative with your household items) and maneuver through them with your pal
- Tricks – Teach your dog to sit, stay, shake, or any number of commands (this is a great way to improve your communication skills, too!)
- Find the toy – Hide some of your dog's favorite objects and see how long it takes your pal to find them
- Soccer – Your pup may have a slight advantage with the extra legs
Activities for Kitty
Playing with cats is a little different than dogs, but there is still a bunch of fun to be had with our feline friends!
- Cardboard box fort – Kids love forts and cats love boxes—it's a perfect match
- Chase – Fashion a lure to a pole (of some sort) using twine or string and let the cat do the rest
- Get techie – There's an app for that… even games to play with your cat
Do you already have a four-legged family member? An ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan can help you provide the care they need without worrying about cost. Get a free quote now!
All in the Family
While having a pet isn't right for every family, it is pretty clear that many positives come with pairing kids and pets. But remember, you do want to make sure your home is the right environment for a pet, and you will also want to verify that your kids are interested – and even willing to help – in owning a pet.
If you decide to add a pet to your home, you may find that your pet helps your family grow together!
The information presented in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute or substitute for the advice of your veterinarian.