How Pets can help your Child
Written by: Emily Chin
Raising children around animals is not only fun, but also beneficial to the child’s wellbeing. Experts say that pets encourage a child’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development.
Interacting with a pet not only helps motor skills but also increases activity levels. A 2010 study showed that children with a family dog exercised on average 11 minutes more than other children. Children with early contact with cats and dogs have fewer respiratory infections and ear infections. A study by Dennis Ownby, pediatrician and head of the allergy and immunology department of the Medical College of Georgia, discovered that children were less than half as likely to develop common allergies as children with no pets at home. Pets have also been linked to fewer skin allergies and asthma. A hypothesis is that an animal’s lick can change the way the child’s immune system develops and responds to other allergens.
Pets also help children develop social skills. Not only does the shared interest help children relate to one another, but animals also provide a great source of comfort. Dr Melson asked a group of 5-year-old pet owners what they did when sad, angry, afraid or had a secret. More than 40 percent mentioned turning to their pets. Parents with pets also rated their children as less anxious and withdrawn. Pets also help children develop the ability to nurture and teaches them responsibility.
Bringing in therapy animals, generally dogs, helps children with learning difficulties. Researchers also monitored children’s stress levels when asked to read aloud to a peer, an adult and a dog. They discovered children were most comfortable reading in front of the animal and concluded pets as a beneficial audience for children.
Not only do pets benefit your child’s upbringing, but they also make a faithful companion and member of the family.