9 amazing benefits of pets for kids

dc930929_19110610For many people, their fondest childhood memories involve pets. Whether it is a dog, goldfish, pony or toad the value of an animal companion in your child’s life cannot be overstated. Pets are not only lots of fun but they also boost development of your child physically, emotionally and cognitively.

Benefits of pets for kids

1. Caring for pets teaches responsibility to children- pets require to be fed, walked, taken to the veterinarian among many other needs. By having a living being that depends on them for sustenance, children learn the value of responsibility early in life. By providing for them, your child will develop valuable qualities such as compassion and kindness which they can also extend to their human companions. This forms the foundation for parental and leadership skills that they will require in later life.

2. Exercise- getting your child to play with their pet is a fun way to get your child the much needed physical activity. Dogs are particularly playful and mobile making them ideal playmates for you kid. Walking the family dog also provides an opportunity for physical exercise.

3. Children can learn valuable life lessons by having pets- very often losing pets is the first experience children have with bereavement which can help them to cope with death in future. They also teach kids the basics of life including reproduction, illness and accidents among others.

4. Pets are a source of fun- playing throw with a dog, cuddling a fuzzy cat or even watching a goldfish can be a great source of entertainment for your child. This is a much more healthier pass time than video games and social media.

5. They can act as social facilitators- a child is more likely to approach and interact with another child who is playing with a pet. A pet can therefore be a bridge between your kid and potential playmates especially if he or she is shy.

6. Pets boost children’s self esteem-various studies show that children who own pets are more emphatic, self confident and popular with their age mates. Pets are incapable of judging or anger and accept their owners unconditionally. This quality may help your child develop positive feelings towards themselves which is an essential pillar of self esteem.

7. They aid in cognitive and emotional development- your child’s pet can be instrumental in improving your child’s academic skills. You should encourage your child to read to their pet; studies show that this will not only increase their reading skills but will also increase their confidence to contribute in class.

8. Owning a pet can be therapeutic- pets act as a trusted companion to your child. Since they are non-judgmental and don’t disclose secrets, children feel safer talking to them about their problems than they would with another person. This way your child’s pet acts as a comforter, helping to relieve your child’s stress. This is especially needed in the estrus cycle, which  usually lasts for 30 days a year.

9. Having pets may reduce occurrence of allergies- it is a popular belief that pets cause asthma and allergies. However, research in recent years show that the converse might actually be true. Children who grow up with cats and dogs from an early age develop immunity to allergens since they are exposed early to certain bacteria.

How to Raise a Smart Child

how to raise a smart childAll parents want what’s best for their child, for them to grow up intelligent and successful. Parents play an important role in ensuring their child is given the tools to reach their full potential. Parents have many options on how to enrich a child’s life, maybe its Spanish language lessons at a young age, or enrolling them in a popular after-school tutoring center such as Kumon or Sylvan. Parents hope that all those weekend trips to the local art museum and piano lessons will enforce a good work ethic early on, and sure in some respects they’re right, but on another level are they pushing their kids too hard too soon? Here are some helpful tips and hints on nurturing knowledge and growth as your child grows and matures.

First, remember that a child is still a child, and they value time to watch mindless cartoons or play tag in the backyard. This is so important, as children need that carefree aspect, they don’t need to be constantly chauffeured from activity to activity meant to teach discipline and inadvertently put an unnecessary amount of pressure on a child so young, it will backfire in the future. So bottom line, let them have those moments of pure silliness, show them that life isn’t always going to be about work work work, and there is always time to enjoy simple things in life. This will nurture their self-esteem and teaches them the ability to balance work and play.

Second, it is important to start the love of learning early. I have worked as an assistant at a Kumon Learning Center and the children there are extremely well- behaved (most of them at least). I specialized in working with ‘early learners’ or children usually between the ages of 3-6. The secret is to not push too hard, but encourage a love for learning in a way they can understand. Teach them to count by asking them how many puppies there are on the worksheet, or award them with stickers when were able to read a short story all by themselves. Never say negative phrases, but always encourage them to try again and help them when they are truly lost. It is essential a parent is able to recognize that a child shouldn’t be pushed to learn and to be rewarded and complimented when they are able to do something constructive, self-esteem building at this age is imperative for a healthy child.

Third, don’t overwhelm them with activities, but don’t underwhelm them either. My advice to you, would be to find one activity, whether it be swimming or playing the violin , that your child enjoys and can work at a skill for when they are older. Don’t push an activity your child does not care for, that will not foster any type of growth. You want them to choose what they want to focus on, let them decide as it will convey to them that their opinion is not only welcomes, but valued. Specializing in an activity when they are lets say 5 or 6 will ensure that by the time they reach high school, they will have a skill (and love for that skill) that will make their extracurricular rich and, colleges later will appreciate that.

How to treat anxiety in children?

anxiety in childrenAnxiety in children is the commonly experienced problem in psychotherapy. It is speculated that 12 to 20% of children suffer from anxiety disorder. Anxiety in children may be triggered by frustration, difficulties in school performances, repeated difficulties in social relationships and fear of being embarrassed and letting down in front of teachers, parents and peers. The early detection and treatment of anxiety in children can prevent future complication such as failure to reach academic and social potential, loss of friendships, feeling of low self esteem and clinical depression.

A first step to overcome anxiety in children is to recognize it. Anxious child may be quite, cautious, shy and withdrawn. They may be very eager to please adults. Anxious kid may act out with crying, tantrums, disobedience and avoidance. Parents may misunderstand and misinterpret the behavior as anxiety and rather describe it as attention seeking behavior, attitude or spoiled. It is important to be aware of several anxieties that can show up in the children.

Children with separation anxiety may experience excessive fear of being separated from parents, home or whomever the kid is attached to. The anticipation of separation in children can bring extreme stress. The child may refuse to go to school, become panicky, throw major tantrums and may be terrified of being apart from parents even for brief periods. Anxiety in children may lead to difficulty in sleep, nightmares, headaches, muscle discomfort and stomach aches.

Children with generalized anxiety experience unrealistic, excessive fear and worry about everyday things. The child often anticipates disaster. The stress and tension is chronic affecting multiple area of life. The anxious child may experience restlessness, edginess, unable to concentrate, irritated, fatigue, muscle tension, difficulty swallowing, unable to relax and frequent urination.

In severe cases children may develop phobia and extreme fear about specific situation and things. This anxiety in children causes avoidance of the activities, objects and situation all the time. It can cause dangerous internal distress such as heart palpitation, trembling, sweating, shortness of breath, chest pain, dizziness and fear of losing control. Children with social phobia fear embarrassment in social situation. They may have great difficulty reading aloud, answering questions in class, initiating conversation, attending social activities and talking with unfamiliar people.

One of the most concerning and extreme symptom of anxiety in children is panic attack. The attacks are recurring and unexpected. A child may experience a intense fear that something bad is going to happen when there is no real danger. Physical symptoms of panic attack include pounding heartbeat, nausea, and shortness of breath, chest pain, trembling, lightheadedness and fear of losing one’s mind.
Anxiety in children can be treated with early detection and intervention. Cognitive behavioral play therapy is the most effective treatment for anxiety in children. It engages the parents and the child in the process of managing anxious responses. Play therapist can lessen the negative effect and improve the child’s ability to cope and self regulate with their anxiety. Play based approaches to the anxiety treatment can give children sense of personal power and confidence.

Anxious child may not feel like talking however parents should let the child know that you are there for him, support and love him. Parents should encourage the child to share thoughts and emotions. A regular routine of bedtime, exercise and mealtime can help a lot. You should avoid over scheduling. An anxious child should be given a nutritious meal and proper sleep. Parents should limit their child’s exposure to upsetting stories and news. Regular fun sessions and playing games can help to boost mood. Most of all, anxiety in children should be treated with the proper advice and under the supervision of pediatrician or a child therapist.