Can a child benefit from having a pet? Some experts say, ‘yes’

Having a pet brings a lot of joy to families, and according to a blog post by Gail Gross, Ph.D., Ed.D., M.Ed., our furry, and sometimes unfurry friends, are also beneficial to children.

Being a child or teenager has its difficulties. Sometimes they feel lonely, sad or scared. That’s where pets come in. Animals can give unconditional love. In a world where social media photos and status updates rule the Internet, pets are nonjudgmental and provide comfort when children feel bullied or are in emotional distress.

Pets can provide a safe place for children to “verbally pour out his fears and his anger,” Gross said. Animals can also teach a child empathy. When a child hugs and cares for a pet, it shows compassion and love.

Also, Gross said children can gain confidence by having the responsibility of caring for a pet. “Children as young as three years old can manage simple tasks such as filling the pet's water and food bowls. As your child gets older, he can groom and walk the pet,” Gross said.

Pets can help socialize children and boost their verbal skills. “A pet's simple presence provides verbal stimulus to help your child practice talking and socializing with another being,” Gross said.

According to Gross, studies have shown that pets can help, “speed up recovery time, and reduce stress and anxiety.”

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