Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)
Wednesday,19 September, 2018
Issue 1306, (4 - 10 August 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Entre Nous: The benefits of pets

Let’s talk about better living! Our interactive family corner aims to expand our lifestyle horizons with practical little pearls of wisdom from the editor and input from our readers

Should your children have a pet? Is it good for them to grow up with pets? Will having a pet make a child healthier? This debate continues decade after decade.

Though as a parent the idea of adding the care of an animal to your already heavy responsibilities might feel like too much work, having a pet as part of the family benefits children in many positive ways. Studies have shown that children who have pets do better, especially in the area of emotional intelligence, which has been linked to early academic success even more than traditional measures of intelligence.

Here are some surprising ways a pet may be good for your child:

Responsibility: Children with pets develop a sense of responsibility and care for others early on in life. Pets need care and attention all the time as they depend on humans to feed, entertain and exercise them. Learning how to be responsible for another creature will allow your children to better take care of themselves as well.

Self-confidence: When your children are successful at raising their pets, they feel good about themselves. In turn, their self-esteem increases, and they become proud of their accomplishments.

Understanding consequences: Caring for pets can teach children a great deal about consequences. When pets are not cared for properly, the results are real and easy for children to grasp. If fish are not fed, they die. If dogs don’t exercise, they get agitated.
Commitment: Growing up with a pet teaches children to commit and follow through with the task. Having a pet is a total commitment, as pets need to be fed, cleaned, exercised, played with and loved every single day.  

Improved reading skills: At younger ages, it is best for children to read aloud so that they can hear themselves. And because pets do not correct children or make them reread, many children are more comfortable reading aloud to pets than they are to other humans.  

Discipline: Growing up with a pet can teach children a great deal about discipline. If they have a dog at home, they learn to train it and teach it how to listen. It’s been scientifically proven that having a dog helps children learn about discipline, though some would argue that cats discipline their owners as well.

Allergies and asthma: Multiple studies have shown that children who grow up with pets are less prone to develop allergies and asthma. When exposed to pet dander and other allergens before the age of one, children tend to develop stronger immune systems.  

Exercise and play: Pets, especially dogs, need exercise and play. As activities that children participate in with their pets are usually physical, this allows them to stay fit. Learning about the need for exercise for pets to stay healthy helps children apply the same concepts to their own well-being.

Calm: Pets tend to bring about a sense of calm in children. Some are even more relaxed around their pets than they are around other humans. Like adults, when children turn to their pets on feeling sad, angry, or otherwise upset, magically pets can bring peace and provide them with unconditional love.

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