Have a Pet & Kids? Learn Why It's Important to Socialize Them

Growing up in a house with both children and pets can be hectic at times, however, current research suggests that pets can help children better socialize with other people and teach them responsibility and compassion. I have found two current sources that explain how socializing kids and pets is beneficial for the emotional development of children and how pets affect the family as a whole. In an article from www.childrensmd.org, Dr. Kevin Barton, an instructor of pediatrics at Washington School of Medicine, explains why dogs specifically can be beneficial for children. In the article, titled A Kid’s Best Friend: Five Reasons Why Dogs are Good for Kids, Barton told the reader about his own experiences growing up with a dog and the valuable lessons it taught him. For example, he explained that learning the social cues of dogs can help children interact with humans more effectively. Another advantage Barton mentions is that owning pets can make children more responsible when they feed them, brush and bathe them, walk them, and complete other daily care. Even young children can help with simple tasks such as giving a pet water or food, and the positive interaction can help them build confidence when socializing with others.

In an article from Huffington Post, Human Behavior, Parenting, and Education Expert Gail Gross tells the reader about the benefits of adding a pet to the family. In the article, titled The Benefits of Children Growing Up With Pets, Gross explains that animals give children the opportunity to socialize with another being. Simply having the presence of a pet allows children to increase their verbal skills by chattering to the pet. By interacting with pets and understanding their needs, Gross says that children learn empathy.

3 easy ways you can introduce kids to pets:

  • Volunteer to pet sit- caring for pets teaches empathy

  • Find a Shelter Reading Buddies Program- these programs allow kids to read to shelter pets helping increase verbal skills

  • Attend a Creature Camp- being around a variety of animals helps kids learn social cues

According to http://bit.ly/ptfcts1, sixty-eight percent of U.S. households own a pet. Many people today consider their pets as members of their families, and raise them alongside their own children. Pets can provide cognitive language skills for young children as they grow up, especially because they offer children an opportunity to practice speaking. Since pets often seek comfort and attention from their owners, children will learn how to recognize and respond to others in need. Having kids and pets interact is beneficial for the entire family. It helps children form relationships with another being that provides social cues for the child to respond to, which then makes it easier for the child and parents to interact as well.


About the Author: Lyndsey Watkins is a senior at UNCW. She is majoring in English with a concentration in professional writing and a minor in journalism. lyndseymwatkins@gmail.com

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