As a parent, teaching your children life lessons can be an overwhelming task. Naturally, as life goes on, there are big incidents that you need to teach your children about, but these are things which can be very difficult to discuss, such as death, relationships ending, or things that really can cause problems for you personally. This is why having a pet is one of those great things in life. You can see the difference in people who have grown up with pets and who haven’t. Some children who don't have pets can feel somewhat stifled in their ability to express certain emotions, but children who grew up with parents that gave them unconditional love were more open. So, if you haven't got a pet, and you are certainly thinking about getting one, what can it teach your children about life?
A Sense Of Self

Having a pet is having a companion. And for those who have dogs or cats that are both well socialized, it's telling your child that you are wonderful. This can certainly help a child of any age, from very young, all the way through to the difficult teenage years. The one thing our children don't have as much of, it would seem, these days is the feeling of self-confidence. Our children rely on things like social media to give them a sense of fulfillment and achievements. And this can be the equivalent of a hollow victory. Because of this idea that our children have a dopamine hit by going on social media, but then need to go back on it again to have another “fix” can be self-perpetuating. So, in having a pet, the constant affection and pretty much “human” connection is a far more tangible and worthwhile one.


The Importance Of Fun

Now, children are less likely to go outside and play. Computers, console games and the like are the preferred option for children now. So this means that children are far less sociable these days, which will have a long-term impact on their relationships with people. In addition to this, in the traditional sense, this is an idea that is disappearing rapidly. So, with pets that like to play, and it doesn't even need to be dogs, it could be a pet pygmy marmoset, snake, bunny, whatever helps your children to encourage that idea of play, they are going to understand the importance of fun. Toddlers love to play, but gradually as children are getting older, and especially after the age of 10, the idea of playing turns into a sense of seriousness, which then translates all too easily into adulthood. As we get older, we get more serious and lose our state of play. And this isn't just about children, this is about adults too. But the fundamentals of having a pet when your child is very young means that they will have a constant companion to play with, and have a better idea of making things fun on a regular basis.


Responsibility In All Of Its Forms

Right off the bat, a pet is the best way to teach your children the idea of responsibility. Lots of parents start their children off with a pet like a goldfish, because they are relatively low maintenance, and the only require feeding every so often. This is beneficial to teach your children the importance of life responsibilities, even if it is just feeding a fish every few hours or so. If you are considering a pet that needs more care and attention, like a dog, the expectation of your child to look after the animal can be too much, this will overwhelm them. This can lead to families giving up their pets a lot of the time. So, it's better for you to start off slowly. The bond between a child and a pet can be a fantastic one, but if you place too much emphasis on duties and responsibility to a young child, this will have the adverse effect, and your child may not want to be so involved with the pet.


Leadership

A lot of us, whether we're parents or children, try to avoid leadership in all of its forms. And so, with a pet like a dog, where you are forced to teach basic commands, this is a fantastic way for your child to practice leadership and so it will help your child to improve confidence, and to implement their own ideas of authority. We spend a lot of our time being told what to do, and for children, if they are being told what to do so much, without them exercising their own authority; it is not always so healthy. It can make your child retreat into their shell somewhat, which means they will grow up with a lack of confidence. So, by having your child give basic commands to a dog, the idea of practicing leadership becomes a very useful skill for them now, and later in life.


How To Cope With Loss And Grief

This is where the age-old cliché of parents telling their child that the dog went next door to live comes into play normally. But the problem with this is that it's not truthful, and it's not preparing a child to understand the concept of loss later in life. For those that don't have pets, and their first experience of loss is a grandparent, it can have a detrimental effect on them for many years. It can also be from feeling scared about the idea of loss. But with something like a pet, while it can be a big worry for parents to sit down with a child and discuss circumstances relating to the pet’s death, in some ways it's easier to prepare your child for the idea of loss as they grow older because a pet doesn't have as long a lifespan as humans. In dealing with the subject, if you do it sensitively, it won't add so much of the negative effect on your child's state of mind, but it can help your child to celebrate the life of the pets respectfully.


The Idea Of Health

Much like in teaching your child responsibility for the pet, you could also use a pet to teach your child the idea of what is healthy and what isn't. We know that we need to eat on a regular basis, but children when they're very young, may not understand this concept for the pets. So, by learning these healthy living habits, such as eating well, as well as exercise, these are things that can be integrated into your child's life. So, when they are playing with their pets, it can be classed as exercise, but also in your child knowing the idea of feeding the pet on a regular basis, this will help your child to begin to think about the consequences of not having a meal, not exercising, and so forth.


The great thing about a pet is that in many ways it can teach our children things that we, as parents, are unable to verbalize. Life lessons take a long time to implement, and while we all know that we should be teaching our children these life lessons, things to get in the way. So, by having a pet as a constant companion, this will be the tool that your child needs to learn about the important things in life. From health to exercise, life to death, and everything in between, the relationship your child can have the pet can be one of the most rewarding, but also one of the most educational.



 


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