You bring up a very interesting idea! My family always had a pet as I was growing up, and I do feel that it made me more responsible because my chores extended to taking care of another living thing. This question made me curious about the specific psychological benefits, and I came across an article in the New York Times that describes a study focused on these very benefits. Therapists found that owning a pet made kids more cooperative and taught them to share, and also acted as a buffer against loneliness -- among some other fascinating findings. I'm including the link to the article, below.
I'm also including a link to a valuable article on the advantages and disadvantages of owning a family pet. You may find it helpful!
I believe having a pet is usually a positive thing for a child, in many respects. My son, an only child, used to love performing his inventive plays and singing songs for our Husky, though the dog was outdoors most of the time. He developed a bond that lasted for 17 years, though I ended up doing most of the training and handling, due to the dog's size and later, my son's schedule.
It's important to chose a pet that's appropriate for your child. My son had many pet snakes, salamanders and even grasshoppers when he was little. A dog needs more care, obviously, so wait until your child is older, unless you are willing to do the bulk of the care. Check the breed of dog with your vet, also, since some are not suitable for kids. Cats can be fickle and NOT "bond" with your child, causing disappointment. Sometimes, older dogs can be good companions, as they are less "hyper" and already trained. However, your child will lose them sooner, and a period of grief may be difficult for a child, say, in middle school, to handle.
Another consideration is the number of diseases carried by pets. Reptiles often carry Salmonella and any mammal (cats and dogs included) often carry various roundworms and tapeworms, to name a few). It is important to teach your child to wash his/her hands after contact and not to let a dog lick his mouth (remember where Puppy's mouth was minutes ago!). Cats' litterboxes can spread toxoplasmosis. Cleaning these is a job for older kids or parents.
So, plan carefully and it can be a wonderful experience.
There are two sections in "From a Child's Perception" that discusses in detail the pros and cons of children and pets that I found most helpful! We had 6 children and almost as many canine companions and it's been a wonderful life for all of us!
Having a pet is usually a rite of childhood. Whether it is a hermit crab or gold fish, a dog, cat or horse, children enjoy the companionship offered by animals. Did you know, however, that not only can pets be a source of warm, fuzzy entertainment, but they can offer several developmental benefits to children as well? A child's physical, social, emotional and cognitive development can all be encouraged by interaction with the family pet.
Yes, I believe pets are good for children to help their psychological development. Most kids love animals, having a pet like dog help your child to learn making new friends. They become more responsible, active and happy that improve their personality.