Growing up, my husband and I both had dogs as pets. We first had our dogs before we had children, which prepared us on having kids. Having our dogs around with our kids, I have to say is the best thing that we could have ever done! We have seen our kids gain so much knowledge and responsibility by having our dogs.
Raising your child with pets provide a great opportunity for learning, nurturing and building healthy relationship skills that will benefit your child for the rest of their lives. I have made a list of 5 things that I have seen my children gain on a social level from having our 2 indoor dogs. I was searching the net and came across this website called Kaboose and it listed 5 Social skills children learn from pets. I have listed the skills and below it have written what I have seen and gained from my children:
1. Communication: Children learn the subtle cues their pets give them to indicate their feelings. They can later apply this lesson to human interaction because they are more attuned to watching for body posture.
* I have seen my children communicate with my dogs by commanding them to “sit” or “stay” and by these commands they are able to gain confidence and interaction.
2. Empathy: Children often become curious about the emotions their pets feel. This curiosity will extend itself to others. “Animals offer an avenue for children to explore their curiosity,” Weil explains. “For a child, curiosity can lead to hope and to greater engagement with the world around them.”
*I have seen my daughter who is 4 years old gain empathy on things around her. When she hears the dogs bark or whine she comes and tells me that “mommy the dogs are sad”, or “mommy do you think they are barking because they are scared”? I see that she has acknowledged the connection of empathy (feelings) with the dogs behavior.
3. Nurturing skills: If properly supervised by adults, a child learns how to take care of another living being, and take pleasure in keeping the pet healthy and happy.
*My son and daughter both take care of the dogs by petting them and taking them for a walk. They also take turns on feeding the dogs, they enjoy putting the dry food into their bowls and then I add the wet food and they both mix it and serves the dogs with their food.
4. Confidence: Children go through life under constant evaluation. They are rated by their behavior, grades and athletic performance. This is especially true of middle school children. Pets have no such expectations; they’re delighted that the child is with them. “Pets give children the sense of unconditional acceptance,” Weil says. “No judging or rating is involved.”
* CONFIDENCE I have seen this in both of my kids even though they are not in middle school. They have gained this by having my dogs around as their security. My daughter is scared of the dark when she is in her room for bedtime. She takes our smaller dog in her room and has him sleep next to her, she feels comfort and secured when he’s around. ( I always tell her to leave her door open just in case of any misbehavior from the dog)
5. Resilience to change: Children who undergo traumatic experiences often cope better when they have a pet to confide in. “Loneliness is very dangerous to children. “Having an animal companion can make them feel a part of something.”
*When one of my kids is at school or spending a night at the grandparents, they are always missing one another. I’ve seen my kids spend time with the dogs a lot more by having the dogs lay their heads on my kids lap or them just sitting and petting the dog while they are watching television or reading. I see how having our dogs around helps my kids not feel alone or how they use them as a coping mechanism.
So here are a few ways and reasons why pets make a difference in a child’s life. As they say “a dog is a man’s best friend” and I agree! The relationship that a dog and a human have is very unique and amazing.
* Looking forward to hear about your thoughts and experiences on having pets!