Pet Symmetry

A picture of a child with family pets

RSPCA Cupcake Day is next Monday, August 19. To celebrate, we’re looking at how family pets can greatly influence your child’s development now and into the future.

The RSPCA’s annual Cupcake Day is on August the 19th and is aimed at raising funds to fight animal cruelty. In honour of this fantastic initiative, we’re channelling Doctor Dolittle in order to examine how beneficial family pets can be for your child’s development.

A picture of the RSPCA Cupcake Day Logo

Village people

They say it takes a village to raise a child. With how frantic our modern lives are, never has that been truer. We’re all working more hours and taking less time for ourselves than ever before. So, it’s important to maintain that notion of the village to work together and help our children become the best versions of themselves.

Now, most villages are full of family and friends. But you’d be hard-pressed to find too many that don’t also have a few animals around. Your child’s village should be no different—because those animals can provide priceless help in the development process.

A picture of a group of puppies

Teacher’s pet

Children’s formative years go a long way to shaping the people they will become. We endeavour to teach them all kinds of values, morals and behaviours—but sometimes there can be simpler and more effective ways to pass on these lessons than are immediately apparent.

Family pets can convey many of these ideals without a single word, and even better, they’re an adorably cute distraction for your child—one that might just give you a much needed five minutes to yourself. A furry friend could be one of the best additions to your family (after your child of course).

A close-up picture of a cat

Responsibly sourced

All children need to learn how to be responsible. It’s an incredibly important and ultimately crucial life skill. In their early years, you might introduce them to the concept by letting them look after a favourite toy (which, of course, is not irreplaceable and can be rectified if they don’t quite get caring for it right the first, second or twenty-fifth time).

Then, when your kids are a little older, inviting a pet into the family can be a great way to teach them how to actually look after things. Start off small by involving them in the selection process. Take them to the shelter with you to help choose an animal (but be ready to explain that they can’t take them all home).

Following on from this they can suggest names for the new family pet. This will teach them that sometimes, once a choice is made, it cannot necessarily be undone. A gentle reminder that Mr Sparkle Pants may not be an ideal choice is highly recommended at this point.

Then, as your children get even older, they can be given more and more responsibility. They can change the water bowl, clean the litter and even do the feeding. As they become more capable, you’ll have to supervise them less and, eventually, it will become a daily job that gives them a great sense of achievement and independence.

A picture of a bog hugging a dog

We’re all unique

These days we’re far more accepting of other races, cultures, religions and ways of life. However, there can always be more done to improve the attitudes of future generations.

The next wave of children needs to know about inclusiveness and accepting everyone for who they are. A great way to begin instilling these values is by having a pet in the family. Even though young children don’t really have an idea about who or even what they are yet—they certainly are aware that a dog or cat who cannot speak and is running around on four legs is just a little bit different to them.

Thankfully, children haven’t really had the chance to develop bias yet and so they’re likely to love the animal no matter how different it is. This will only impart positive attitudes later in life about people who are different from them.

A picture of a girl kissing a horse on the nose

Boundary possibilities

Having pets around children can also teach them important lessons about respecting others’ boundaries; although this is the kind of lesson where you absolutely must be present. Animals are generally not shy about expressing their displeasure when someone is ‘all up in their grill’. Dogs may bark or bite, and cats may scratch, hiss, or simply run away.

If a child’s provocation is particularly insistent then an animal’s reaction could be particularly unfortunate. By closely monitoring how children are interacting with animals and ensuring there is no risk to the safety of either, they will hopefully begin to realise what the pets do and don’t like—and this is going to teach them valuable lessons about understanding boundaries.

A picture of a toddler playing with a dog

Must be love … love, love

Then there’s the best part of families who have pets: the appreciation for love that children will gain!

There is without a doubt a special kind of affection that can come from a pet; it really is different from any other kind of love. If children experience this from a young age, then there can only be positive effects for them for the rest of their lives.

On top of that, just imagine all the adorable photo opportunities you are going to get when you see your little one snuggled up to the family pet! Or you could even personalise some gifts for your child with a pet’s name.

In other words, the benefits and cuteness possibilities of family pets are endless!

A picture of a young girl holding a cat

Do you have any other ways that family pets have helped your child’s development? Comment below!

And for further details about RSPCA Cupcake Day, visit the official website.