Posted on Oct 11, 2022, 5 p.m.
Many families feel incomplete without a furry companion in the mix, but for pet-free families, the choice to adopt a new animal is a big one. A pet adds extra work and expense, but the benefits it can bring to a household with young kids are priceless. Here are four ways that a pet could benefit your family.
Pets support young family members with mental health conditions
Research has proven that pet ownership can be incredibly beneficial to those with mental health conditions. Mental health problems can lead to social isolation and feelings of loneliness, both of which tend to exacerbate the original problem.
Pets offer a sense of unconditional support, comfort, and companionship which can alleviate stress, anxiety, and low mood. Unlike human family members, pets are often available to provide affection instantly and without judgment. Plus, the practical aspects of caring for pets can serve as a useful distraction from mental health problems and encourage physical activity, which in itself is a useful tool for managing mental health conditions.
Pets support key aspects of child development
There are several benefits of pets for child development. First of all, the emotional support and companionship they provide can boost confidence and self-esteem. Secondly, they can help kids to develop empathy, read non-verbal cues, and consider the needs of other people, all of which are important social skills that aid in building connections with others. Thirdly, pets give children the opportunity to take on caretaking tasks like feeding, walking and training, which can give them a sense of pride and teach them the importance of responsibility.
Pets make families feel more connected
A pet can be a brilliant way to help families spend more time together. When parents have busy working lives and kids have studies, clubs, and hobbies taking up their time, it's common for families to have hectic schedules that make it hard to spend quality time together. Pets provide common ground that all members of the family can connect on, particularly when it comes to exercising pets or playing with them.
Children that grow up with strong family connections are more likely to flourish in their adult life, according to an international research program conducted by Columbia University in New York. For families that struggle with connectedness, a pet could be a great way to bring everyone together more frequently.
Pets support kids' immune systems
While it's tempting to maintain a bacteria-free zone at home to protect our health, there's lots of evidence to suggest that exposing kids to various germs is good for them, and this can be done with the help of a pet. Dogs are particularly efficient at carrying germs on their paws, fur, and muzzle. Exposing young kids to these microbes seems to strengthen their immune systems so they're less likely to experience sensitivities like asthma and allergies later in life.
No matter, if it's a dog, cat, bunny or any other domestic animal, welcoming a new pet into a home with young children, has a huge range of benefits for both physical and mental health.
This article was provided to WHN by Hannah Williams, who is a researcher, digital content and media provider, consultant, and health advocate.
As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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