2023 Author: Anita Thornton | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-22 03:30
Many children persistently ask for a pet. A playmate and incredible source of comfort and learning, the benefits of animals on the emotional development of children are many.
Learn respect for others
A pet is a living being, not a stuffed animal. Moreover, the pet will not always want to play when the child wants it. This is the first thing your child will need to learn. If he pulls the ears of his cat or dog, the latter will make him understand that he does not appreciate it by growling or spitting. "To avoid the risk of injury or bites, the role of the parent is to listen to the signals sent by the animal and to teach them to their child as well," advises Sarah Vaillancourt, animal he alth technician at Mondo. In the presence of an animal, the child will quickly learn that there are consequences to his actions.
Learn calm and gentleness
Studies have shown that petting an animal lowers blood pressure and triggers the production of serotonin, the happiness hormone. The presence of apet can be particularly calming and reassuring for a rambunctious child. The child quickly learns that if he is calm, the animal will stay close to him to be petted and that if he is agitated, his companion may run away. From an early age, children can be shown how to pet their pet in a way that will be enjoyable for them.
Did you know? Sarah Vaillancourt strongly recommends taking a dog training course in the presence of our child if the child is old enough (8-10 years old). “People who take training classes with their pets have been shown to be less likely to abandon them because they gain a better understanding of their pet's behaviors,” she explains.
Developing a sense of responsibility
Many parents decide to get a pet in the belief that it will help their child become responsible. This is true provided you wait until the child has reached a certain degree of maturity. Caring for someone and assuming responsibility are skills that develop at school age. It is only around the age of 7 to 8 that a child will be mature enough to properly care for his animal, feed it and take it out to do its business. Below this age, the child should not be expected to take full responsibility.
According to Sarah Vaillancourt, the ideal age to adopt a dog if you want to empower the child is around 10 years old. A dog requires a lot of time, energy andsupervision especially during the puppy phase which is very demanding. Before this age, the child's involvement with the animal will be strictly for play and fun.
Some animals such as rodents or rabbits require much less care and can therefore be considered with younger children. The child may be responsible for feeding it and changing its water daily. The child can be taught to associate his meal routine with that of his animal, for example.
“A cat is a good compromise for families looking for a close relationship with their animal without having as many responsibilities as with a dog,” advises Sarah Vaillancourt. You can consider offering a cat to your child around the age of 7-8 years.
The age at which we decide to welcome a pet into the family is therefore essential according to our expectations and our desire as a parent to have this animal and to take care of it too.
Help him socialize
The child and his pet very quickly weave a bond of attachment. The animal in question teaches him to be interested in someone other than himself and to get in touch with others. The dog, more specifically, will be a pretext for establishing a first contact with other children during walks for example. It will provide a sense of confidence to your child who will not feel alone. Moreover, the dog is often used with autistic children to secure them and help them establish a relationship.contact with the world around them.
Around school age, the cat or dog can also become your child's playmate and confidant. Dieter Krowatschek, a child psychologist and author of the book "Children Need a Pet" believes that a pet can be parents and educators' best ally in bonding and relating to others.
Pro Tip: At the time of adoption, Sarah Vaillancourt advises parents to go see the animal without their children present. Select the animals that interest you by asking the right questions and talking about your lifestyle to the people who are there, whether you are at a breeder, at the SPCA or at the pet store. You'll be more likely to make an objective choice without being swayed by your child's crush. Then, meet the animal for the first time and observe its behavior. This will help you compare the animal's behavior in the presence of your child and draw the right conclusions.
Sources: Born and Grown, www.affinity-petcare.com, autismcanada.org