There’s something special about the bonds that can emerge between young children and finned, furred or scaly friends. Did you know that the unique relationships between a child and pet can actually foster and facilitate development? New research is coming to light exploring the unexpected benefits of the bonds between humans and animals, especially social, physical, and emotional benefits for young children stemming from interaction with a pet. Here’s a bit more information:
The human-animal link for children that fosters close relationships with pets shows itself in increased and enhanced social skills. Oftentimes children are found to understand empathy more, be more cooperative and willing to share, and experience a boost in confidence levels when engaging more with animals. The ability of pets to buffer against loneliness helps emotionally handicapped or distant kids feel a sense of belonging and ‘wanted’-ness. Pets also help children develop impulse control and gain an understanding of responsibility.
Since animals have very specific physical needs, the impetus for running, throwing, walking, and being all around active is rewarded through the companionship of an active animal/active child. Pets are a great way to get children up and moving outside, away from things like the television, refrigerator, and video games. Motor skills are also enhanced through activities such as throwing balls and combing fur.
Pets can help develop children’s emotional skills by providing unconditional love and support. Shy children can be drawn out of their shells by the unbiased affection of an animal. Plus, as a social object, pets can help break down barriers between groups of kids within a community. Most children are drawn towards an animal and forget whatever social/classroom constructs that exist in terms of bullying.
Although far from comprehensive, the developmental skills listed above around pairing children with a furry friend are overwhelmingly positive. As children grow and age alongside an animal, these skill sets become more advanced and a real relationship can bloom. The benefits and experiences of living closely with a pet can bring much joy into a child’s life!