I got my first dog when I was in the third grade. We’d just moved halfway across the country and I had zero friends at school, but when I walked out of school each day, a tiny wiener dog was waiting to walk home with me. The transition was rough, to say the least, but the soothing presence of that sweet dog helped more than I can explain.
The truth is that as a child, my dogs helped me handle the bad days and made the good days a little more fun (and furry!) While I wasn’t a military kid, I do know that all of the benefits I experienced are just as important for children whose parents serve, perhaps even more so.
Why Military Kids Need A Pet
Pets help kids adjust to change.
Pets can be a constant in a world of chaos for a child. They are unfailingly loyal and constantly want to be loved. No matter where a family lives, what school kids go to or which parents are home, a pet is always there. They’ll be a child’s friend through the first days at a new school when the child is still finding their place. Having that constant presence can help alleviate the stress of frequent change. Plus, petting an animal is exceptionally calming and what military family doesn’t need a little extra calm?
Pets provide an extra source of affection.
Perhaps it’s just my dogs, but I have never met a creature more willing and eager to snuggle than a pet. That extra affection can be so helpful for a child who misses a parent. Animals have a way of knowing when someone they love is upset and adjust their demeanor accordingly. When I’m sad, my dogs sit by me (or in my lap) until I feel better. Imagine how much your military child will benefit from an extra bit of love during a difficult time.
Pets can help kids create and stick to a routine.
Think of all the ups and downs that come with military life. So many of these events disrupt a child’s routine – the leaving of a parent, the return of a parent, a move, friends moving, etc. When things are up in the air, having a pet to care for can help solidify as much of a routine as possible. Pets need to be fed, exercised, walked and bathed regularly. When other things are unpredictable, routine pet care can serve as a constant for children.
Pets for military kids don’t have to be dogs! Cats, bunnies, hamsters, fish, birds and even reptiles are all pet options that provide many of the same benefits to children. If you’re thinking of getting a pet hamster it might also be useful to know that they can can eat apples. Finding a pet your child (and family) connects with and has time for is the most important thing. If you’re considering getting a pet for your military child, make sure you have the time and energy necessary to give that animal the best life possible. A pet should never be an impulse buy!
Do your military kids have a pet that helps them through difficult times? Tell me about them in the comments below!
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