Do Pets Make Children Happier (The Answer is Yes!)
There’s no doubt that kids and pets are a winning combination! Whether the pet is large or small, animals have important lessons to share with their owners, and the research is in: The benefits reaped from owning a pet have lifelong consequences. A pet is a confidant, a friend, a playmate and a connection to the natural world, as well as being a valued member of the family.
Mental Health Improvements
Multiple studies involving disturbed children and pet therapy have revealed that the children in contact with pets were able to control their impulses better than before and developed empathy for their fellow beings. Pets used in autism studies were instrumental in helping their human subjects interact with their peers. Other studies prove that children with aggressive tendencies or hyperactive behavior disorders are better able to calm down in the presence of a dog. Because dogs are not judgemental and use physical cues to demonstrate their needs, they’re a natural choice for these types of programs.
Fun and Fitness
Not only do pets help children function at a healthy level socially, they can serve to improve a child’s physical health as well. Kids living with pets report fewer allergy symptoms, less risk of asthma and lower stress levels than in households with no pets. Pets encourage children to exercise, and their antics can be good for a few laughs as well. Because playing with pets is fun, kids may not even realize they’re getting a healthy dose of immune-boosting activity. This may be why children with pets usually remain at a healthy body weight.
The Value of Comfort
Cats and dogs fulfill the basic human need for sensory stress relief. Petting a dog’s soft fur can lower a child’s blood pressure and ease anxiety after a busy day at school. That’s not to say that other pets such as fish can’t be beneficial, however. Studies show that fish owners reap the same blood-pressure benefits simply from watching their finned friends swim around their watery enclosure. Pets an help shy children form social connections with their peers by giving them something to talk about. Pets help kids understand and demonstrate affection, and they give comfort when they curl up next to a lonely or forlorn child. Pets can safely guard their owner’s most secret thoughts and desires.
Nothing beats the pride and joy children experience when caring for a beloved pet. When children understand a pet’s needs and are able to fulfill those needs, their bond with the animal becomes stronger. The nurturing aspect of a child’s relationship with his or her pet is not unlike the relationship of a parent to a dependent child, and this first exposure to responsibility may prepare kids for future experiences with child care. Pets teach perseverance. A patient child is rewarded when his dog finally learns to perfectly execute the trick they have been working on for months. The sense of achievement a child feels when they master the finer points of riding a horse after many months of practice raises their self esteem. Children whose families own pets are more likely to be academic achievers and get along with their peers in a school setting.
Why do pets encourage happiness in children? Possibly because they love their families unconditionally, or it just might be those adorable wagging tails and purring bundles of soft fur. A friendly greeting at the front door can go a long way to soothe a child’s troubles, and looking into a beloved animal companion’s beautiful eyes can instantly turn frowns upside down. From physical wellness benefits to emotional health, pets are one of the most natural medicines known to man, and one of the most enjoyable.
About the Author
Kaitlin Gardner currently lives in Pennsylvania and is married to her best friend. In her spare time, she loves to go hiking , hand with her family and friend and enjoy nature.