Studies Showing the Benefits of Children Growing Up with Pets
When I was younger, my parents didn’t want to get me a pet until I was old enough to take care of it. Parents sometimes pressure their kids to take on more chores, get better grades, or be a little older before getting a pet.
However, research says something a little different when it comes to children growing up with pets. In fact, there are many studies showing the benefits of children growing up with pets.
If you are one of those parents whose on the fence about getting their kid a pet, you may want to check out these studies!
Pets Help with Child Development
Although many parents may think it is best for a child to be at an age to take care of a pet, research suggests that having a pet actually helps child development. Having a relationship with a pet can help your child develop key skills such as:
- Nurturing and Caring skills
Better Emotional Health
Not only do pets help children with their development, but they play a big part in their emotional health as well. There is growing research evidence that children turn to their pets for many reasons including comfort, reassurance, and emotional support when they feel angry, sad, and even happy. Thus, pets help children to have better emotional health in the following ways:
- Reduction in anxiety
- Higher self esteem
- Decrease in Depression
Another important aspect that scientists are studying in adolescents is how pets can help with depression, self esteem issues, and anxiety in teens. As we know, teens have a higher chance of developing emotional issues, but scientists are finding that having a pet decreases these chances.
Dogs Encourage Social Interaction
With so many electronics, online gaming systems, and online chats, many kids these days have a hard time in real-life social situations.
According to the Human Animal Bond Research Institute, the inclusion of dogs in social skills training was more effective than some of the traditional programs we have in place. Specifically, those children who receive the animal for social skills intervention had fewer social skills deficits, fewer restricted and repetitive behaviors, and were able to have more typical social communication skills.
Kids who had pets also had better social skills when they were able to read to those real animals. They were able to share, cooperate, and even volunteered better than those without a bet.
Although this is about dogs, theories suggest that this may be the case with any pet.
Helps with Physical Activity
We don’t need a study to prove that having an animal gives us and kids a little more physical activity. Especially children who own a dog will be more likely to get physical activity through taking their pets on walks, playing outside, or playing fetch. However, there have also been cases of cats playing fetch too (mine is one of them).
Getting physically active can prevent childhood obesity, overeating, and decrease boredom.
Helps Children on the Spectrum
In another study done by Human Animal Bond Research Institute, researchers found that pets helped children with autism spectrum disorder. In this experiment children on the spectrum were calmer while playing with guinea pigs in the classroom.
When these children spent 10-minutes in a supervised playtime with the guinea pigs, their anxiety levels dropped, they were more engaged with peers, and had better social interactions.
Researchers concluded that animals offered unconditional acceptance to the children which in turn made them calmer.
Pets Make Everyone Healthy
According to the News in Health, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, pets make people healthy. The relaxation and relief of stress provided by animal companionship offers both parents and children health benefits. Pet owners have the following health benefits:
- Decreased risk of cardiovascular disease
- Fewer minor illnesses
- Fewer complaints
- Less visits to the doctor
- Decrease in cortisol levels (a stress-related hormone)
- Lower blood pressure.
There is not a study that shows how animals could benefit a certain ailment, but scientists are beginning to study specific conditions.
Families are Closer
Pets aren’t just for kids. In fact, many parents fall in love with a child’s pet just as much as the child does. Pet ownership has been proven to have beneficial effects on the entire family. Research shows families with a pet:
- Spend more time interacting with each other
- Have fun activities
- Make friendly conversations including important topics.
The bottom line is that pets help people to feel calm, loved, and cared about. They are not only great for our children, but great for adults as well.
What do you think about owning a pet in your home? Would it benefit your child? Share your thoughts, feelings, or concerns in the comments below!