Your kids have been begging you for months (if not years!) to get a pet, but you’re still on the fence – and understandably so. Adding a furry companion to your household is a huge responsibility and comes with its own set of price tags and time commitments: vet visits, food, toys, walks and grooming, just to name a few. But despite the commitment, a pet can bring a great deal of joy into your family’s home – and can also help teach your kids some important life lessons. Here are six reasons why it might be time to make a dog or cat a certified member of the family.
1. They’ll Fill Your Home with Joy
If you had a dog or cat as a kid, you understand – everything is just more fun with a pet around. A furry friend makes even the most mundane kids’ activity more exciting. Plus the experience of nurturing a pet creates lifelong memories. Playing with a pet has even been shown to enhance feelings of pleasure and tranquility.
Tip: Pets are lots of fun, but wet paws, potty-training accidents and shedding can be a challenge to contain. Keep the mess manageable with the right products. In addition to keeping a roll of Bounty paper towels at the ready (they’re great for soaking up all sorts of messes), use a Swiffer WetJet to dissolve tracked-in dirt and grime, and a Swiffer Sweeper with a dry cloth to trap and lock pet hair and dirt on floors. Remove those pet odors and leave behind a light, just-cleaned scent with Febreze FABRIC Pet Odor Eliminator.
2. They Teach Responsibility
Kids will learn compassion and empathy by caring for a pet: They start to understand the emotional and health needs of a family member who is more vulnerable than them. Having kids perform small but important jobs, such as keeping the water bowl full or the dog’s coat brushed, is an excellent way to teach accountability. These chores can also pave the way for getting your kids more involved in general household chores, whether it’s keeping their room clean, doing the dishes or getting their homework done.
3. They Provide Near-Constant Companionship
Childhood can be difficult at times, and animals can be an enormous source of unconditional love and comfort to a child who’s coming to terms with life’s tricky lessons. When your son or daughter has had a bad day at school, a misunderstanding with a friend or a fight with a sibling, a cuddle with the family pet can be a great stress reliever and can help them process difficult emotions.
4. They’ll Give Your Kids a Self-Esteem Boost
Having a nonjudgmental companion who loves you no matter what is a great boost to a child’s self-esteem. Dogs tend to be loving and attentive toward their human family and can serve as a friend your child can talk to, confide in and play with when there’s no one else around. As your kid grows up, the dog’s love can be a constant in their life and a support they can always rely on. This unconditional love helps your child believe in him or herself as much as their loyal pet does.
5. They Encourage a More Active Lifestyle
It’s no secret that many kids don’t get enough outdoor time or physical activity – a dog can help immensely with that. Dogs love joining in kids’ activities, and daily walks and backyard play time can build exercise into your child’s daily routine. In fact, one study showed that kids with dogs exercise 11 minutes more each day than those without them.
6. They Come with Social Perks
Not only do cats and dogs make great friends, they can also help your child make human friends. Pets can be a wonderful catalyst for socializing, because kids are more inclined to approach and interact with another child who is playing with an animal. If you have a shy child, your pet can be the bridge between them and potential playmates.
Have you recently introduced a dog or cat to your family? Share your insights and tips with us in the comments section below!