The Importance of Family Pets For Young Children 

Pets are a part of the family, and they are great companions for your young children, but if you don’t have one yet, you may be wondering why you should get one. Often parents will decide to get one when children are a little bit older, but having a family pet that grows with your child from a very young age can be a highly rewarding experience.

At Child’s Play ELC, we enable children to engage with all types of animals through a range of settings. In particular, at our Tarneit facility, we have two guinea pigs called Sparkles and Bon Bon which the children love.

If you are considering a family pet, here are some helpful hints as to why you should get one sooner rather than later.

What are the benefits of having a pet?

There are so many benefits to having a pet when you have young children, here are just a few of them.

1. Health Benefits

One of the greatest benefits of having a pet is the health benefits. When children grow up with a pet, they are less likely to develop allergies and have a stronger immune system. One study, in particular, found antibodies in children who had pets that assisted in fighting off illnesses such as the common cold.

However, the biggest health benefit a family pet can provide is the ability to improve social skills and reduce stress. By stroking animals, children immediately experience a lower blood pressure and heart rate reducing anxious feelings. It also releases an abundant amount of oxytocin to improve their mood. Playing with a pet is even more beneficial as children will further develop their social skills, and it eliminates feelings of loneliness.

2. Encourages Outdoor Play

Whether it is a bouncy puppy, a floppy-eared rabbit or a cute kitty, pets love the outdoors, and they help promote a healthy lifestyle for everyone. Outdoor play is significant for young children as it improves their physical health and critical thinking skills and pets are the perfect stimulant for getting them outside.

Many pets like being outdoors for part of the day, and they will naturally explore their surroundings. This encourages young children to further their risk-taking behaviours and play outdoors with their furry friends.

Pets also bring the family together as you are more likely to spend time together going on long walks or to a park to run around and play than families who do not have pets. By spending this time together, you are also slowing down and taking time to enjoy the weather and relax in the environment, promoting healthy development in children.

3. Learns Empathy

Pets have a pretty straightforward way of communicating. They make noises to greet you, and those sounds become more insistent when they need feeding or letting out. There are different sounds for when they are excited and sad. With a pet in your home, children will want to help feed them and walk them and begin to understand their needs. The ability to understand your pets’ needs will also play a role in your child understanding of caring for others.

By putting pets’ needs above their own, they are moving away from the natural egocentricity children indulge in and generally have a more empathetic outset. At our Tarneit facility, the children can play, feed and set up the enclosure for Sparkles and Bon Bon under the supervision of our room leaders.

4. Promotes New Relationships

Pets are some of the best listeners. They never judge and they always provide your child with companionship. With pets, children always have someone to talk to and play with, which allows them to practice and improve their social skills. By having a companion who never judges their actions, children become more confident in expressing their personalities.

Additionally, children love to talk about their pets. If they are at childcare, this is a fantastic way to break the ice and make friends with new people. 

5. Helps with Learning

Finally, one of the best benefits of having a family pet is that they can help your child with their learning. As a non-judgemental companion that child feels comfortable with, they can provide encouraging and friendly support when reaching developmental milestones. In particular, children that are learning to read often will engage in reading to pets because their pets don’t understand and won’t correct them. This element of the pet not understanding actually helps reduce the stress and anxiety that children experience when trying new things.

Adopting a Pet

If you are considering a family pet, make sure to adopt them from a Local Animal Shelters or the RSPCA. They are great starting points for choosing a pet, and the volunteers there can assist in choosing the right type of pet.

When adopting a pet, make sure to talk to your child about the pet, including the responsibilities and activities involved. This helps them get excited and allows them to start imagining all of the possibilities of having a pet.

Additionally, if you want to know more about Sparkles, Bon Bon or pet responsibilities at the centre, feel free to get in touch with us.