5 Ways Kids Who Grow Up With Pets Are More Emotionally Intelligent

Dogs and Cats can enrich our lives in so many ways.

Mar 16, 2020

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Children love to have pets, any pets – dogs, cats, hamsters, or rabbits – and the benefits of having these furry animals in your family are numerous. Of course, having children help take care of pets teaches them responsibility but that is just the tip of the iceberg.

What most people do not know is that multiple studies have shown that kids who have pets do better and school because they have higher scores of Emotional Intelligence (EI). The five components of EI are self-awareness, self-regulation of emotions, motivation, empathy, and social skills all of which are linked to early academic success. And what parent doesn’t want their child to succeed?

Here are some of the ways pets can help children develop their EI:

Grows Empathy and Compassion

Children are naturally empathetic and having pets can nurture this. MMN.com said that researchers Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda wrote a book The Waltham Book of Human-Animal Interaction, that was an overview of scientific studies that showed that children who help take care of their pets by feeding, petting, walking, or brushing them teaches compassion. One of the studies showed that even young children who have pets show more empathy towards other animals and people.

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Helps Cognitive Development

Kids who play with pets, talk to them, and even read to them helps with verbal development. The authors said: “Pet ownership might facilitate language acquisition and enhance verbal skills in children. This would occur as a result of the pet functioning both as a patient recipient of the young child's babble and as an attractive verbal stimulus, eliciting communication from the child in the form of praise, orders, encouragement and punishment." This doesn’t replace one-on-one conversations with your kids but it encourages them to use even more language.

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Reduces Stress

Today, some doctors are writing social prescriptions to get a pet. Even just petting a dog has been shown to reduce stress (and blood pressure) in adults, how much more so in children.  It is much easier for a child who is feeling stressed to turn to their pets who love them unconditionally. That’s because animals can provide emotional support for kids as well as adults because they are great listeners and not judgmental

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Increases Self Esteem

When kids are given the responsibility to take care of pets like filling a water or food bowl, they feel proud and accomplished. This MMN.com said makes them become more independent and competent. In fact, the authors said that research “found that children's self-esteem scores increased significantly over a nine-month period of keeping pets in their school classroom. In particular, it was children with originally low self-esteem scores who showed the greatest improvements." So go ahead and give your kids some easy pet-care tasks.

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Teaches About Life Cycle Events

Many parents find it difficult to talk to their kids about sensitive topics like birth, illness, and death. Learning about these through the lives of their furry family members helps make it easier to understand the cycles of life. Of course experiencing the death of a beloved pet is difficult for kids but the authors say it can also be a very valuable learning experience. The children will learn how to cope with the feelings of sadness and anger.

All of these benefits of growing up with pets also apply to parents too. Nothing beats the welcome you get from your furry ones when you come home from work. Feeling stressed? Just pet your dog, cat or bunny.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.