Kids and Critters

Companion animals play a major role in the lives of many children. There is evidence for a wide range of emotional health benefits from childhood pet ownership (Companion Animals and Child/Adolescent Development: A Systematic Review of the Evidence). Parents report that children raised in families with pets have better health, are more obedient, are more physically active, are less moody, have fewer behavior problems, and have fewer learning problems. Parental involvement, open discussion, and planning are necessary to help make pet ownership a positive experience for everyone.




Children who learn to care for animals and treat them kindly gain invaluable insights into how to treat people (Pets and Children). All kids of pets bring children pleasure, but choosing one that is right for the family, home, and lifestyle as well as one a child can care for is important. Taking care of pets helps children to develop social skills. Developing positive feeling about pets can contribute to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. A good relationship with a pet also helps to develop non-verbal communication, compassion, and empathy.


As documented in The Benefits of Pets, an animal gives a child something to talk about and a shared interest with other kids (). Animals are also a great source of comfort when they feel sad, angry, afraid, or when they want to share a secret. Pets also help to strengthen family bonds as they are often the focus of activities families do together. There are many reasons for children to have a relationship with a companion animal.


With parents' assistance, pets teach kids responsibility.  Kids learn the importance of schedules for eating, exercise, sleep, and medical needs.  They also learn the importance of safety so that no person or animal gets hurts.  Safety includes the proper ways to play, stopping pets from eat food that is poisonous to them (e.g., chocolate and onions), and etiquette rules. Often many pets are abandoned or surrendered because the owners didn't understand and teach the importance of safety.  These pets then may be euthanized from events that could have been avoided with clear boundaries, rules, and respect.


Safety tips from How to Keep Kids and Pets Safe Together

· Always supervise children and pets.

· Don’t let play get too physical from either side.

· Teach safety rules to children and take the time to train pets to be well-mannered.


Consider adopting a pet and teaching children how to respect pets.

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