A Special Kind of Love

If you are a parent, your child has probably, at one point or another, begged you for a pet of his or her own. A bunch of reasons to say ‘No’ may have started to run through your head: They aren’t old enough to handle the responsibility, What if this is just a phase, You’ll be the one who ends up taking care of this new pet, or You simply aren’t ready to add another pet to the family.

Silence your inner thoughts for a moment, and listen to these reasons why getting a pet for your child may be one of the best things you can do for them.

Owning and caring for a pet offers many benefits to children, here are just some of the  advantages:

  • Studies show that children who have an attachment to a pet tend to be better emotionally adjusted, and have higher self-esteem than children who grow up without pets.
  • By caring for and nurturing another living thing that depends on them for survival children learn empathy and compassion.
  • Positive reinforcement from parents about a job well done caring for their pet builds self-confidence, and helps children feel more competent and take pride in being responsible.
  • Pets offer a source of non-judgmental companionship and unconditional love and support.
  • Though none of us want to think about losing a pet, when the time comes to say good-bye to a beloved pet, helping your child to understand and cope with feelings of sadness and loss when a pet dies can influence how he or she copes with death through the rest of their life.

These are just a few of the larger life lessons that come from owning a pet during childhood.

Though your family may not be ready to adopt a larger pet (like a dog, cat, or horse), you shouldn’t disregard the idea altogether. Small animals, like fish, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, lizards, birds, etc. all make great pets for children.

Did you have a pet as a child? What was it? Do you agree there are benefits associated with growing up loving an animal? Let us know in the comments! 

Information provided in part by Healthy Pets with Dr. Karen Becker.

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8 Responses to A Special Kind of Love

  1. I always had a dog. Now, I don’t want to live my life without one. Everyone needs the unconditional love.

  2. I always had a dog, as a child. Now, I don’t want to live my life without one. Everyone needs unconditional love!

  3. As a child, I always had a dog. Now, I don’t want to live without one. Everyone needs unconditional love!

  4. Jean Perillo says:

    My favorite pet growing up was my collie-mix, Tammy. I got her in 5th grade, and had her till I was 25 yrs old. She was a great Listener! And my protector. I do think there are many benefits associated with growing up with an animal. The most important being having an unconditional friend.

  5. Rheanna says:

    We had so many pets! We still do! Just about every animal we ever owned had some kind of story, was rescued. When I was kid and I would talk about all of our animals the other kids would say do you live on a farm? My mom has a life long love of horses and was able to indulge that, so we had a horse, also a chicken and a duck, not to mention dogs and cats and rabbits. Now I have some lizards, plus we still have dogs and cats and a rabbit…everyone was rescued, and I’m so glad for my son (making his debut this weekend!) will grow up in the same environment I did. Animals make us BETTER people PERIOD.

  6. travelingpaws says:

    Animals make us BETTER people PERIOD is exactly my feeling too (Rheanna).

  7. Karleen says:

    Another thing owning a pet does for children is teach responsibility. They learn that a pet depends on them 100% to provide fresh food and water and keep their living quarters clean. Their pet depends on them to ensure good health and make sure proper medical care is provided if the pet should get sick or injured, even though that will surely involve the parents. Growing up with a dog, especially, provides a best friend for any child through good and bad – someone to talk to, fur to cry into, a warm body to hug, unconditional love.

  8. Ann Ballard says:

    We did not have pets as we had 10 kids, but I love having my pets now. I have a son I was told could not have pets due to asthma, but his grandfather took him to volunteer at a shelter and he never had breathing problems with animals as they were not his trigger. We started with a fish who we loved, but just do the same thing for you as a furbaby, so we got cats and then eventually small dogs. I think it has been a great experience for my kids and they have been great companionship to me as well.

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