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The Benefits of Caring for an Animal

“Can we get a puppy?”
The words many parents fear hearing from their children. Even though they promise to walk it and feed it, you know owning a pet is a big commitment. That’s why it is important to understand the benefits a pet offers – especially for children – to help you make the decision.
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Aside from being bundles of joy, pets affect many different parts of children’s development. The same way a Montessori classroom encourages learning through interaction, interacting with an animal can help build skills that will stick with them through their entire lives. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, pets can be a great addition to a child’s life.

Pets Offer Comfort and Security

Everyone who has seen a picture of a child sleeping on a dog knows just how comforting a pet can be. Whether it is cuddling up on the couch or standing guard for the boogeyman, animals like dogs are truly child’s best friend. They offer unconditional love and can act as a listener for your child’s secrets, allowing them to express themselves without worrying about the consequences. Studies have even shown that pets lower anxiety and can help aid special needs children cope with their problems.

Pets Teach Empathy and Responsibility

You may as well take your children up on their offer of taking care of the pet! Not only does it alleviate some of your workload, but it can also help your child develop emotionally and gain confidence. By taking care of the pet, your kids will begin to learn when it is happy, sad, hungry, or needs to go outside without using words. They can then use their understanding to take care of the pet, building their confidence and learning about responsibility because the pet relies on them.

Pets Enhance Social and Motor Skills

Kids love to talk to their stuffed animals, toys, and pets. While this is positively adorable, it also helps their speech and social skills develop. Similar to the philosophies of Montessori classrooms, practice makes perfect! Using their imagination, kids can have conversations with something that doesn’t talk back, letting them practice social interaction even if they are an only child. For shy children, this can be a great step towards further socializing.

Not only does an animal help socially, but physically as well. It can be hard to get a child motivated, but if their choices are to run around outside with a dog or sit on the couch, most kids would be outside before you could get their shoes on. By running and playing with an animal, your child is developing coordination and motor skills critical to their future.

A pet is not for everyone. Allergies, housing situations, and other factors can make it difficult to bring a pet into your home. However, the combination of a Montessori education and a furry friend is perhaps the best foundation a child can have during their development.

November 15th, 2017

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