OWNING A DOG PRODUCES HAPPIER, HEALTHIER, MORE WELL-ADJUSTED CHILDREN.
REASON NUMBER TEN: Dogs boost children’s confidence and self-esteem.
First and foremost to benefit children’s self-esteem is the experience of being loved unconditionally. As your children get older and are capable of delivering commands to the dog, they will quickly learn to be strong and confident, or most dogs just won’t listen. Furthermore, telling a dog to sit, and then watching the dog do what he was told, provides children with tons of confidence.
Having a dog who will always listen, a non-judgmental companion, and a friend who is always excited to see him/her increases your child’s self-esteem, studies say. Dogs can also help improve your child’s reading skills, as little ones often associate a dog’s enthusiastic ear and wagging tail with positive encouragement. By giving children the confidence needed to consistently practice reading, they become better readers by virtue of the practice. Dog-owning children have fewer sick days off school, and children who own them often have better self esteem. Daily contact with animals and responsibility for their care offers the children a sense of self-worth that doesn’t merely happen because someone tells a child how wonderful he/she is.
“For many children whose nurturing has been faulty, taking care of an animal can interrupt the cycle of abuse repeating itself over generations,’’ said Dr. Samuel Ross, Executive Director of Green Chimney’s Children’s Services in Brewster, New York. “They can learn to be care-givers, even if they haven’t been well cared for themselves.’’
Children who were regularly given the opportunity to care for a puppy at their preschool, as well as those with dogs at home were found more socially competent. They were more popular, felt better about themselves and were better able to understand other children’s feelings.
Many other life lessons are learned by living around a wonderful dog. Some of them are learning to be gentle, benefits of companionship, importance of faithfulness, the safety and security of home and appreciation of the needs of others. Above all the lessons, dogs are just great fun. They can make us laugh, even after a terrible day. They are always there wanting a reassuring hug. A dog’s primary wish in life is to make you, its owner, happy. How noble—and cool—is that?
About the author: Charlotte Iaquinta, M.Ed.
Mrs. “I”, as she is affectionately known by her former students, has been a college professor for twenty-eight years, chairing the Department of Human & Family Services at Southwestern Christian University for most of those years. She has been a licensed counselor (OK) and a certified psychometrist (OK) for two decades. She has three earned Master’s Degrees, one in Higher Education, one in Psychology of Counseling and one in English as Second Language. She also has an honorary Doctorate in Family Counseling. She is currently retired from teaching and practice, enjoying her seven grandchildren.