5 reasons why animals have such a positive effect on children
“Mom, Dad, can we have a pet too?” – Almost all children have their own pet at the top of their wish list.
And for more than one good reason: Many studies and even more everyday experiences show how positive the effects of dogs, cats, small animals, birds & Co. are on children and the whole family.
“I want a pet!”
Reason 1: Animals boost self-confidence
“Four-legged development workers” – this is how the research group “Pets in Society” describes the current state of science on the effects of animal husbandry on healthy child development. Animals in everyday family life support the emotional development of children, strengthen children’s well-being and self-confidence. As a result, children who have pets feel less lonely, and often the family pets give their little friends an extra dose of courage. At the same time, petting pets such as dogs, cats or guinea pigs releases the relaxing cuddling hormone oxytocin. A valuable balance to the busy everyday life of kindergarten or school children.
Reason 2: Animals encourage mindfulness and communication
Children who grow up with animals learn to pay attention when interacting with them. How sweet and cute is a little hamster when he puts something in his cheeks with his little paws. And cats purr quite comfortably when they enjoy being petted, but sometimes they just want to be left alone. As a matter of course, dealing with animals trains the children’s powers of observation and their reactions to what they observe. In many everyday situations you will learn to be mindful, to be considerate, to interpret different signals, to listen and to behave accordingly – a great basis for good and constructive communication.
Reason 3: Animals are the best listeners
We have already noticed that children who have pets feel less lonely. Maybe because animals are wonderful listeners? You can tell them anything. They’re just there, pricking up their ears or lying there relaxed and don’t ask uncomfortable questions. More and more dogs are therefore being used to learn to read and to promote reading, for example in Hamburg, where the reading poodle Benson works. The white, allergy-friendly king poodle is the only four-legged employee in the Bergedorf library, and the children there are allowed to read stories to him. “Especially girls or boys who have trouble reading are repeatedly positively encouraged and encouraged by Benson to continue reading. His calmness is transferred to the children, Benson does not improve or criticize anyone, he listens loves every story and the kids love him for it.”
Reason 4: Animals awaken the spirit of inquiry
But not only contact, cuddling and listening count, children are also fascinated by the impressively diverse world of animals. Non-fiction books with animals are a big hit in kindergarten and primary school, girls and boys in this age group are characterized by a special curiosity and spirit of research. Pets such as birds, fish (in a beginner’s aquarium) or agate snails can also encourage this at home. How exciting it is to carefully hold one of the large snails in your hand, to determine the water quality in an aquarium or to give language lessons to a budgerigar. No question: Keeping pets promotes children’s knowledge and understanding of animals and nature.
Reason 5: Animals increase a sense of responsibility
Of course, children should not just take on the responsibility for a pet, but depend on the support of their parents. But depending on their age, they can take on simple tasks in animal husbandry, and this, in turn, has a positive impact on the development of their endurance, patience and intellectual maturity. A study by the US University of Texas with adolescents suffering from diabetes showed that even taking care of a fish regularly helped the teenagers to be more responsible towards themselves. A nice result.
Tip: On the website “Children and Animals” of the research group “Pet Animals in Society” there are interesting studies on the subject, information for parents and tips on choosing an animal. Should it be a dog or a cat, fish, birds or perhaps a rodent? Which animal fits best in our family? An overview in the form of a table helps with the decision and shows all the important questions that need to be considered in the form of a checklist.