If you had one when you were a child, you certainly remember the first animal that grew up in your home because, for many, it is a full-fledged member of the family. Especially since according to the BBC, pets can contribute to the brain development of children in various ways.
Megan Mueller is an associate professor at Tufts University and specializes in human-animal relationships. Elle declares, as if to confirm a widespread intuition: „It is really important for young children to realize that the perspective of another living being may be different from their own. Maybe this lesson is easier to learn with an animal than with, say, a sibling. ”
According to a research study, pets affect the physical health, social skills and even cognitive development of children. Those around him would have even more empathy than the others.
A dog, if nothing else?
Hayley Christian, an associate professor, is interested in demonstrating cause and effect. His team used data from an Australian study of 4,000 children aged 5 to 7, and found that owning a pet was associated with more prosocial behavior on average.
Another research indicates that children between the ages of 2 and 5 who have a dog are more active, spend less time on screens, and sleep better. In this case, it is the dog’s physical activity (such as walking) that makes the difference.
In a study published in 2021, Hayley Christian and her team came across all these data, in the control of certain factors such as socioeconomic status, and concluded that children who regularly engaged in physical activity related to their dog had a better development. Search for security: “It can be said that children who have an animal to interact with in the first years of life have benefits in terms of socio-emotional development.”
This does not mean that all children must have a dog. Megan Mueller is interested in the mental health of teenagers who have a pet hanging from the Covid-19 pandemic, compared to those who did not. It is clear from this study that there was … no difference. Other factors may explain these results.
Concerning the positive influence of animals, the researcher anticipates that it depends in reality on the quality of the relationship between the child and the animal. The time spent with it and the age of the child are important factors: one study indicates that children between the ages of 6 and 10 develop a stronger bond with animals close to humans, such as dogs and cats, than with birds or fish, for example. But the opposite is true for children between the ages of 11 and 14, who seem to be as attached to each other as they are to each other.
Animals can also tighten their guard between family members, as a study on foster families suggests. Finally, children who grow up with pets have a better understanding of the animal world in general and behave better with them.