Children and animals go together like peanut butter and jelly. There’s a magnetic, almost inherent connection between the two that often becomes evident in the early years of childhood. Raising children with animals (as pets or livestock) can be incredibly beneficial and play an integral role in emotional and physical development.
Animals teach love, compassion, and responsibility. They can be a fur-ever friend for children and diminish feelings of anxiety, depression and loneliness. Beyond the emotional dynamic, animals tend to have significant benefits in the physical health and well-being of children.
While it’s a big responsibility and commitment to welcome a pet into your home or to raise livestock, children can benefit tremendously from growing up with animals.
Here are some of my favorite reasons to raise children with livestock or pets…
…like I need a reason to bring home another animal!
Animal Care Teaches Responsibility
Raising kids with pets or livestock helps teach responsibility. Regular chores in pet and animal care, such as feeding, bathing or walking – can encourage children to maintain a schedule and develop leadership skills. Animals are a commitment and when children raise their own animals they learn their responsibility for another life. Animal care also encourages children to think of the needs of others and fosters feelings of compassion.
Animals Encourage Outdoor Time
There are many benefits of outdoor play for children, and animals play a significant role in encouraging kids to spend more time outside. Whether they’re going outdoors to provide care for livestock or taking the dog for a walk, spending time outside enables them to get fresh air, sunshine and some immune-boosting vitamin D! Animals help enhance a child’s outdoor experience and incentivize physical activity and play.
Animals Can Be A Source of Food
Animals like goats, chickens and ducks can be a source of food for families and they’re relatively easy to keep. The eggs, milk and meat provided by these animals are naturally healthy food sources – free from the antibiotics or additives often found in store-bought foods.
When children raise animals for food they learn about the life cycle, food supply, and basic survival skills. They also have the opportunity to be a part of their own food production, which teaches an appreciation for the animals that provide us with sustenance.
Reduction of Allergies and Asthma
According to a scientific study, having at least one pet around the house when your child is a baby can help reduce their chances of developing asthma, hay fever, and eczema. Additional studies suggest that having animals around your baby can reduce the chances of the child having allergies in general.
This is especially true when dogs and cats live inside the house and are often in close proximity to the child.
So, not only will having pets around your child improve his or her emotional and mental responses to sentient creatures, but this companionship will also help strengthen a child’s immune system.
Animals Provide Loyal Companionship
Mammals make great pets due to their noted abilities to express love and affection for their companions. These companion animals are a constant and consistent source of love, comfort and support for children. Feelings of anxiety, depression and anger are often diminished when children have a pet or animal in the home.
Not only do children benefit from the love of their companion, but animals benefit from the love of their human!
Animal Care Encourages Compassion
When raised with a pet, children typically learn to love and express love much earlier in life. Children who have animals learn empathy and compassion at a young age and are likely to reciprocate those feelings throughout childhood and adulthood. Pets give the priceless gift of unconditional love and there’s nothing comparable to the pure bond between animal and child.