Want great kids? Get a foster pet.

jasper-bruno-sleepingStudies show children are healthier, happier, more responsible, and more socially engaged when caring for a pet

When I was a kid,  I remember my mom telling me to “go out and play” and “be home before dark.”  We would all meet up at my buddy’s house and decide on our day… was it going to be exploring in the woods?  Or, playing soccer in the street?  Or maybe just going for a bike ride to the local 7/11 for some Jolly Ranchers.  Whatever, we decided, we were active, engaged as a group, and happy.

Fast forward to today… and everything has changed.  Parents are now challenged daily to get their kids engaged in something other than a screen.  And let’s face it… many of our kids are developing into overweight, unhealthy and unsocialized young adults.  So, what’s the answer?  Simple…. a foster pet.

Study after study has proven that caring for a pet can have dramatic effects on the health and well being of adults. And now, there are studies that also show the benefits a pet can have on kids.  And those benefits are huge.  So, let’s begin.

Social Benefits

Kids immediately create a special bond with pets.  And with this bond comes communication.  It’s funny… but there are so many kids that will barely speak around other kids and parents, but when left alone with their pet, they won’t stop talking!  Many experts agree that a child’s language skills and overall communication and socialization strengthen around pets, which is why more and more pets are being brought in to classrooms and libraries.  Want your kids to become more extroverted?  Get them around pets.

Emotional Benefits

Ever watch a kid play with a cat or dog?  It’s priceless.  And it’s great for their stress and anxiety.  Numerous studies, including one by the American Heart Association,  have shown that actively playing with a pet will increase the levels of the stress reducing hormone oxytocin and simply petting a pet will decrease the stress hormone cortisol.  It’s no wonder why when kids were asked who they turn to with a problem, the majority named their pets.  Pets aren’t just man’s best friends…they’re a kid’s best friend too.

In addition to this, kids with pets have a higher EQ.  What is EQ?  If you don’t know, it’s time you learn.  EQ is emotional intelligence, and it’s more important for young kids than standard intelligence.  And EQ revolves around empathy.  When kids care for a pet, they learn empathy… they are focusing on the care of something other than themselves.  They hear a cat meowing and wonder what it needs.  Or when a dog makes a facial expression, a child tries to figure out what it’s trying to tell them.  These are examples of non verbal cues that teach empathy.  And research has shown that having a pet increases empathy in kids.  And increasing empathy directly correlates to higher EQ, which in turn, correlates to higher success in school.  Pretty cool.

Physical Benefits

Ever seen kids that are just glued to some sort of a screen?  Maybe a tv, computer, tablet, or their phone.   They sit around all day and don’t get any physical exercise.  They need a pet.  A study published in the American Journal of of Public Health,  shows that kids that have pets exercise on average, over 75 minutes more every week than those that don’t.  And that can go a long way to help keeping your child from becoming obese, or having a chronic illness like high blood pressure or diabetes during their teen years. And then, of course, there are numerous studies, including one in the journal Clinical & Experimental Allergy,  that show the benefits of having a pet at a young age to strengthen a child’s immune system against allergies.  Yep…that’s right. When young children have pets in the house, they actually develop a better immune system against allergies and asthma.

So, are you ready to get that pet?   Now what?  Simple.  There are pets all over the country that are in desperate need of foster families.  You can find them at any of your local rescue groups, shelters, or websites like 911fosterpets.com .  By fostering, you are not making a long term commitment, and you get to see how much your kids will benefit from pet parenting.  You will also be saving a life!  Pretty cool.  Now go get a foster pet!  Be a family of heroes!

One Comments

  • Tammy Berk September 8, 2016 Reply

    Excellent article on fostering and kids! I also love that a pet (even a foster) is a friend who will always be there for my special needs daughter – can’t say that about many humans. Look forward to your next article!

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