Parents choose to acquire a pet for their children for a variety reasons. Sometimes it’s so they’ll simply have a companion, other times it may be to teach them important lessons about responsibility and the circle of life. Whatever the reasons, having a living being that requires their care, love and affection can result in better-behaved children in the long run.
Training and Behavior
When it comes to dogs for example, they may have behavior problems of their own, and the process of training them will show children the importance of doing what they’re told. In the most basic of circumstances, getting a dog to sit and stay could keep them from injury or even death. Children are so perceptive, this should be easily translated to them as a reason why it’s important to follow their parents instructions and listen to what they are being told.
The majority of animals will eat pretty much whatever they are given, yet there is still a fair share of pets who are finicky eaters. This is something else that is easily translated to young human behaviors, especially those children who don’t like to eat important, healthy, foods like vegetables.
Here’s where parents can explain to their kids why certain foods are necessary in their diet and how eating excessive amounts of things like sugar and fats can be harmful to them and their pets. Children may understand the importance of a balanced diet when they learn that the kibble we feed our animals contains balanced amounts of ingredients like meats, poultry, fish, vegetables and other items crucial to their overall health and welfare.
The Golden Rule
“Do unto to others as you would have them do unto you,” has been known as The Golden Rule for centuries, especially as a practice found in the Bible. But even for those who may not follow certain religious principles, it is very important to teach this basic concept to kids when it comes to interacting with animals and ultimately the way they treat other people in their lives.
Simply translated, kids should treat their pets the same way they want to be treated and this behavior includes how they get along with others. For example:
- You wouldn’t put your hands in someone else’s plate and kids need to steer clear of their pets while they are eating.
- We’re taught to share in Kindergarten and not take toys away from other children and the same goes for animals and their playthings.
- People don’t like to be disturbed when they are sleeping and the same is true for animals.
- Excessive noise is disturbing for humans as well as animals.
- Pinching, poking, prodding, hair pulling and other invasive actions aren’t tolerated well by people or their pets.
Kids will quickly learn that if they’re mean to a pet, that animal is less likely to interact with them and the same is true for how they play with their siblings, friends and other family members.
When children have pets they see for themselves all the ways being responsible for another living creature is powerful, and learn the value of doing good things for others. As a wonderful side effect this often results in better-behaved children. That’s the kind of side effect I like!
Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations
Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.