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How Pets Can Benefit Child Development

Posted on 29th January 2016 by Green Lane Farm Team

No matter the size, shape or breed of animal, a pet can be a wonderful addition to any family unit. While it’s common knowledge that family pets can provide unwavering companionship and entertainment, many are unaware of how they can also aid child development. In actual fact, children can benefit from mental, physical, psychological and social development simply through interacting with their pet.

This article will look into the different ways pets can help with child development, teaching essential life skills as well as increasing awareness and responsibility in children.

Health Benefits

 

In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of health campaigns aimed to target childhood obesity and promote healthy eating and regular physical activity among young people. Taking a pet for a walk or a run around the park gives children a chance to play out in the fresh air with their furry friend, while getting some much needed exercise in the process.

When it comes to general well being, children who are exposed to animals during their first year of life are less likely to develop allergies towards them. Furthermore, young children aged between five and eight will develop a more stable immune system if they have a pet, allowing them to fend off bugs, bacteria and viruses more easily than those who don’t.

Therapy


Pets can provide great comfort and therapy for young children, always giving them companionship and a friend to tell their secrets to when they feel upset or sad. In turn, this makes it easier for them to learn how to trust others and confide in adults when something is troubling them.  

Not only that, but giving your child the chance to look after a pet can teach them about responsibility, as they help to scoop food, pour water into bowls and groom their pet’s coat themselves. We must add that parental supervision is advised if you have a young child to ensure the safety of both your child and pet.

Values

The presence of a family pet in the home can teach your child key life skills and values which can help them in everyday life. Giving your child the chance to look after a pet can teach them about responsibility, as they help to scoop food, pour water into bowls and groom their pet’s coat themselves. We must add that parental supervision is advised if you have a young child to ensure the safety of both your child and pet.

By allowing your child to help with the pet chores and look after the animal, they will learn more about loving, caring behaviour which they can then apply to other children or adults.

Social Benefits


Animals are a brilliant way of breaking social barriers between children, particularly for those who are less socially outgoing than others. A child is more likely to feel as though they can interact with another child who is playing with a pet, giving practice in socialising and forming relationships with others.

Boost Self-Esteem

Research has shown that children who grow up with a family pet can have a higher self-esteem than those who do not. It gives them a friend to talk to and play with who will love them unconditionally back.

Not only will this boost their confidence in social situations, it can also help them with public speaking. As such, pets can encourage children to become more confident readers – particularly those who are nervous public speakers – as they can practice their reading skills with their favourite reading buddy without worry.

Cognitive Development


As children grow older, they naturally become more inquisitive about the world and how it works. As such, growing up with a pet can encourage your child to want to learn more about the different breeds of animals and trigger a desire for learning.

Including your child in veterinary appointments and training classes can spark an interest in them to find out more about animals which, in turn, can give them the confidence to talk to other pet owners or animal lovers.

Educational Benefits

Classroom pets are often a child’s first experience of looking after an animal, particularly if they don’t have their own pet at home. This type of interaction can be extremely beneficial for children as it can teach responsibility, empathy and good behaviour, as well as acting as an effective stress relief.


Furthermore, pets can encourage children to become more confident readers – particularly those who are nervous public speakers – as they can practice their reading skills with their favourite reading buddy without worry.

Despite all of this, it is not a statutory requirement for schools to teach pet care in England and Wales, meaning the majority of classrooms in the UK do not keep animals for their pupils to look after. Based on the benefits pets can have on child development, a report by Pets at Home in 2015 showed that 73 per cent of parents would like to see pet care included in the national curriculum.

Children with Learning Difficulties

Studies have shown that the presence of a dog can help improve the attention span and responsiveness of children with learning difficulties. The calming companionship of a dog can help those with learning disorders – such as autism – regulate their stress levels and improve social interaction.

Fostering and Adoption

In February 2015, the British Association for Adoption and Fostering (BAAF) launched guidance for dogs and pets in fostering and adoption placements. This guide highlights both the physical and emotional benefits that looking after a pet can bring for fostered or adopted children, so they can feel more positive in their new environment.

Interacting with a pet can promote human attachment for fostered or adopted children, allowing them to feel more comfortable and form relationships more easily with their carer.

Green Lane Farm

For expert animal care, look no further than Green Lane Farm. With over 50 years’ experience looking after animals, we offer safe, secure cattery and kennel facilities so your pet can feel at ease in a home away from home whilst staying with us. Our fully trained team are dedicated to providing an attentive service, so you can have complete trust that your beloved pet is in the safest hands when with us.

Whatever length of stay is required, we are always on hand to help. Simply contact our expert team today to find out more about our professional animal care services.

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