Psychologically and physically, having a pet has great benefits for children. They provide company, security and self-esteem. They help foster empathy, coexistence and also give a great motivation for little ones to exercise. “Yes, there is a lot of advantage for children to have a pet, because humans are social animals and having a pet with us helps us maintain that process”, says Dr. Fausto Reyes Delgado, Veterinarian Zootechnician and director of the Veterinary Hospital UNAM-Banfield.
6 benefits of having a pet
1. Pets help improve communication
According to Dr. Reyes Delgado, children who have pets tend to be more sociable, “A pet helps a lot in terms of communication and affection. It allows us to communicate better, to be more open and to express ourselves much more easily”.
Research suggests that when children have difficulty at reading aloud, with the help of animal therapy, a trained dog and a guide, they show fewer symptoms of anxiety and improve their communication. “Their attitudes change and their skills improve”, says Lisa Freeman, director of the Tufts Institute for Human-Animal Interaction.
2. They provide self-esteem
Psychologists from the University of Miami and the University of San Luis indicate that pets provide emotional benefits compared to those of human friendship.
“We saw evidence that pet owners did better, in terms of wellness outcomes and individual differences, than those without companion animals”, said the researcher leader Allen R. McConnell, PhD, of the University from Miami in Ohio.
The expert adds, “Specifically, pet owners had higher self-esteem, were in better physical shape, tended to be less lonely, were more conscientious, more outgoing, less fearful, and were less worried than non-owners”.
3. Pets help reduce stress
Taking care and playing with a pet is a recreational activity that keeps children focused on the present, enjoying it.
According to the study, Effect of Domestic Dogs on Children’s Perceived Stress, by Darlene A. Kertes, a psychologist at the University of Florida, companion dogs have a buffering effect on childhood stress. In her study, Kertes and her team looked at the effects of dogs on children who had their support figure (father or mother) not present.
Results indicated that under the condition of being alone (without social support), children showed an expected increase in stress, but the presence of a pet dog significantly dampened the stress response, compared with children without the presence of a pet.
4. They provide security, empathy and confidence
In the article, Pets and children, published by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, it is explained that pets help children develop positive and empathic thoughts towards them, but they also have benefits related to their security.
“Pets can be safe recipients of secrets and thoughts. Children often talk to them like they do to their stuffed animals. They also provide a connection with nature and can teach respect to other living beings”, reads the AACAP document.
5. They encourage physical activity
According to the AACAP, pets also fulfill other needs such as comfort touch, love, loyalty and even physical activity.
When children play with their pets, they forget about screens and get more exercise. If they have a dog, that motivates them to take it for a walk in the park and run alongside it. They exercise, have fun, and don’t even realize they’re burning calories.
6. They help develop psychomotor processes
Doctor Fausto Reyes Delgado adds that pets also help children, especially younger ones, develop psychomotor processes, “Especially fine movement such as loosing or grasping”.
With proper adult advice, a pet can be the best company for the child. However, it is very important that before taking an animal home, seek advice from a veterinarian to find out if it is suitable for you or what type of pet you can have.
In this article we give you more information about it, just remember that a living being is a great joy but it also implies a lot of responsibility.
Translated by: Ligia M. Oliver Manrique de Lara
Spanish version: Here
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