We all know that dogs are man’s best friend and pets in general play an incredibly important role in making a house a home. But it appears that something we may only just be discovering is exactly how important and influential pets can be on the development of children in general. Indeed, the results of a new study suggests that not only do kids hold pets with real importance, they actually value their company more than that of their own siblings!
A team of University of Cambridge researchers, set out to see just how valuable kid-pet relationships can be. When the results were collated, it became clear that children appear to get a great deal more satisfaction from pets around the home than their brothers and sisters about the place. Which would also seem to suggest that pets have a significantly higher level of influence on childhood development than previously suspected, affecting everything from the development of social skills to emotional health and more.
To examine the phenomenon, the researchers focused specifically on families that had at least one or more 12-year-old children in the household and one or more pets. A total of 77 families were included in the project, with surveys carried out to determine things like conflict rates, satisfaction from quality time and so on. The evidence painted a predominantly clear picture – relationships between children and pets were in most instances stronger than those they shared with their brothers and sisters.
“Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” stated lead author Matt Cassells from the psychiatry department of Cambridge.
What was also interesting about the study is the way in which the evidence collected suggested that girls enjoy the strongest relationships with household pets. The reason being that prior studies carried out on the subject brought to light evidence suggesting that it was in fact the other way around.
“Pets are common but their importance to children and early adolescents has received scant empirical attention. This is partly due to a lack of tools for measuring child-pet relationships,” the researchers concluded.