Pets and Emotional Growth
Taking care of a pet provides opportunities for learning; builds a child’s self esteem and develops strong human animal bonds
Pets Encourage Nurturing
Nobody enjoys being treated roughly. Kids soon learn that if they want to be liked and trusted by the family cat, they’ll need to treat her carefully and kindly. This sort of training benefits all kids, but is especially important to small boys who don’t often get the chance in our society to practice nurturing skills as girls do.
Pets Build Self Esteem
Helping to take care of a pet gives a child a sense of pride and accomplishment, especially if the animal is able to return the affection. Shari Young Kuchenbecker, Ph.D., research psychologist at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, says, “The child who cares for a pet knows that what he does matters, and so he’ll want to do more of it. The more successfully he feeds, walks, or emotionally bonds with the pet, the more confident he’ll feel.” In fact, studies conducted by the Waltham Centre have shown that children with pets have higher levels of self-esteem than those without pets.
Pets Teach Responsibility
Even a small child can begin to learn to care for the needs of another living being. Whether helping to empty a cup of dry kibble into the rabbit’s bowl, or filling the hamster’s water bottle, it’s never too early to start teaching kids proper animal care. Of course, parents or teachers must monitor all pet care that the child carries out. Kids should be expected to fulfill their responsibilities, but when the inevitable slip-ups occur, we shouldn’t make too much of a fuss; we should just point out that the pet was counting on him.
Pets Become Friends
Lots of animals such as cats, dogs and guinea pigs love human contact and can become a child’s best buddy. Kids can even develop strong human animal bonds with non-responsive animals such as fish or turtles. These relationships help to strengthen a child’s social skills, giving them the potential to do better in a school setting. (sesameworkshop.org)