The companionship of a pet is a unique experience. For many people, a pet can become a member of the family, and for children, having a pet can provide many benefits. Adding a feathered or furry friend to your family can be a wonderful thing, but there are various factors that you should consider before adoption:
- Do I have enough time to commit to caring for an animal or bird?
- What kind of pet best fits my family’s lifestyle?
- Do I have enough money to care for a pet, including for such expenses as food, toys, visits to the veterinarian, and vaccinations?
To help you determine the answers, do some homework. Resources are available at libraries, bookstores, and online, and by talking with local vets, animal shelters, and friends.
What are some benefits of having a pet?
According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), the many benefits of pets for kids include the following:
- A positive relationship with an animal can contribute to a child’s self-confidence and self-esteem. The AACAP notes that developing a trusting relationship with a pet can help to show children how to develop trusting relationships with other people.
- A pet can aid in developing non-verbal communication, compassion and empathy in a child.
- Children will often talk to their pets in the same way that they would to a stuffed animal or other beloved toy, so a family pet can become a confidant of sorts for a child and a “keeper of secrets.”
- A pet can teach responsibility. Taking care of another’s basic needs such as food and shelter is a great lesson to teach a child.
- A family pet can provide opportunities for teaching about life. Birth, sickness, accidents, separation, communication, and bereavement are all part of the experience of owning a pet.