Today is Pet Day! Find out how having an animal influences your child.

Today is Pet Day! Find out how having an animal influences your child.

Almost every child dreams of having a pet. Although a new family member generates expenses and responsibilities, such a decision is worth considering. Studies show that household pets have a positive influence on your child’s development!

The significance of the relationship between a pet and a child has been the focus of studies for decades. In the mid-sixties, Boris Levinson, an American child psychiatrist, was the first one to prove that taking care of a pet in your childhood can make you more sensitive to other people’s emotions and attitudes. Having contact with a dog, especially in youngest years, teaches empathy and sensibility towards other people, develops tolerance, responsibility, and self-acceptance, and helps to control emotions.

An animal in the household from the youngest age

The presence of a cat or a dog at home has a positive effect even on your infant! Contact with a pet stimulates the development of speech. A fascinated baby is trying to communicate with its four-legged friend and crawl or walk around it, develops its motor skills. On the other hand, older children learn how to be responsible, tolerant. They have more self-confidence and a higher sense of security. The necessity to walk the dog forms a habit of spending free time outside. What is important in our times – playing games with the dog increases child’s physical activity. They can see the world as something more interesting than a computer, tablet or smartphone.


 A medical point of view

When a child spends time with its pet, the body produces oxytocin. This hormone influences bonding and caretaking reflexes. It helps the child to learn empathy. It starts to understand that household animals are dependent on humans. Our youngsters learn that animals also feel pain, joy, and longing, which in turn also helps them relate to other animals and, according to specialists, with their peers. Additionally, the rise of oxytocin decreases the production of cortisol, the stress hormone. The company of a dog or a cat helps children deal with stressful situations, which reduces tension and stress levels. A dog gives the sense of security, eases pain and stress. Hugging an animal reduces the feeling of loneliness and fear. American scientists also discovered that, later in life, children living with animals get allergies or asthma less often.


How to prepare a child for a new member of the household?

We should remember that having a pet is a great responsibility and we should carefully think it through before we adopt it. We need to remember that it is a long-term responsibility. Before making the decision, we should consider whether we can take care of the animal and whether we have enough time to do so. We also need to choose which kind of pet we would like to adopt. We shouldn’t consider only the appearance of the pet but focus on whether we will be able to provide it with good living conditions. While choosing a dog, we should focus on the characteristics of the breed and check if this breed is appropriate for children. If your child has never had any contact with animals, especially cats, we should check if it isn’t allergic. We should remember that it is easier for children to catch a zoonotic disease, and this is why, before we bring our pet home from the pound or a breeder, we should take it to the veterinary. Before we introduce the new family member into our home, we should explain to the child that having a pet is a huge responsibility. It’s not only playing and pleasure but also duties to fulfill. And we should also remember to make it clear to our child that we should never use violence towards our pet.


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