article provided by The 6th Degree Media
Pets are a wonderful addition to any household. They provide companionship, give us a sense of purpose and drive, and always seem to find a way to make us laugh when we need it most. For children with Down syndrome, they can be particularly beneficial.
It’s estimated that as many as 3,000 to 5,000 children are born every year with this condition. And while our understanding of Down syndrome is still growing, one thing seems clear: Like most children, many kids with disabilities love the friendship of animals. In this short guide, we’ll assess four reasons why owning a pet can provide a host of positives to kids and parents alike. From boosting confidence to helping with the daily hurdles of life, here are four factors to keep in mind.
Pets Boost Confidence & Responsibility
Owning a pet provides a child with a sense of responsibility that is hard to parallel with anything else. While they probably shouldn’t have total autonomy over the raising of your fluffy family member, it’s important to encourage kids to take an active role in nurturing routines—even the mundane ones like feeding and grooming.
This newfound sense of purpose will have the natural byproduct of boosting their confidence levels. Kids with disabilities are often told what they can’t do, rather than what they can. In this instance, you’re providing them with a platform to prove to you, and to themselves, how capable they are.
Service Dogs Help in More Ways Than One
Pets can sometimes double-up as more than just a cute member of the household. Service animals, particularly dogs, can be really beneficial to kids with Down syndrome whose abilities require the help.
Surprisingly, less than 1% of Americans with a disability currently live with a service dog. While they’re far from a necessity for everyone with accessibility requirements, having a service animal at home can provide support with day-to-day tasks we sometimes take for granted.
Companionship on Tough Days
We all have tricky days. Life sometimes throws hurdles at us that we don’t see coming, and it can be hard to navigate them as effectively as we would like. That challenge is all the more demanding for kids.
Having a pet to cuddle up to, act as a shoulder to cry on, or even just sit and spend time with, will serve as a welcome distraction from whatever issues they’re facing. While it won’t totally negate the problem, it will go a long way to helping.
Mental Wellbeing Improves
Pets go beyond just being there for you in the moment. Studies consistently reveal how much of an impact they have on our core mental health. One recent report highlighted how 94% of pet owners said their furry friend made them feel happy, while as many as 84% cited them as having a genuinely positive impact on their overall mental health.
What’s more, outdoor pets also encourage us to get up and be more active. This will have the knock-on effect of improving both physical and mental health. It’s a win-win.
Introducing a pet into the household of someone with Down syndrome could have a hugely positive impact on everyone in the home. Most important of all, be sure to talk to your child about the decision before acting. While they’ll probably be in favor of it, it’s better for everyone to be part of this life-enhancing decision.