They say that a part of the soul remains dormant until we experience the love of having a pet at home. And perhaps it is true. Science has proven the many benefits for children of having a pet at home, psychologically, physically, and physiologically.
Animals help children socialize, improve their self-esteem, and give them a sense of security. They also allow them to develop a sense of coexistence, foster empathy and improve their physical condition, among other advantages.
Having a pet in the home produces several psychological and emotional benefits for children:
1. Reduces stress
Among the benefits for children of having a pet at home, it has been proven that children who play daily with an animal are less likely to suffer from stress, anxiety, and depression.
Enjoying time with a puppy or kitten is a recreational activity that keeps your children busy, focused, and happy.
When we spend a lot of time cooped up due to a pandemic and our stress levels rise, a furry companion is the best ally to help us relax.
A study published in the journal Social Development evaluated the influence of companion dogs in reducing stress in children in situations of social tension, with satisfactory results.
A total of 101 children aged 7 to 12 years were subjected to various social stress tests, some with their pet and other times alone.
The results indicated that when alone, pressure levels increased as expected. whereas, with the presence of their pet, stress levels were significantly reduced. The children said that with their furry friend they felt safe and confident.
2. They feel accompanied
Animals will make them feel accompanied and comfortable at all times, especially when their parents are not at home. Pets help young people calm down, deal with their emotions in a positive way and face loneliness with optimism.
3. Improves self-esteem
Pets help people improve their self-esteem and reduce the sadness caused by loneliness. If you are worried about your child replacing his or her human friends with a four-legged companion, remember that pets will always be a complement, but will never replace interpersonal relationships.
However, the emotional benefits of having a pet can be equal to those of human friendship, according to psychologists at Miami University and St. Louis University.
The findings, published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and reproduced by the Huffington Post, are based on two experiments.
In the first test, variables such as self-esteem, loneliness, illness, and depression were studied. It was found that pet owners scored much better overall, demonstrating less lonely tendencies and higher self-esteem.
In the second experiment, 56 dog owners answered different questions related to their pets. From the answers obtained, it was concluded that people with pets had a more active social life and felt more emotionally complete.
4. They bring happiness
Owning a dog, cat, or hamster makes people happier and helps them overcome depression. If you've seen your child soothe himself by cuddling his favorite blanket or stuffed animal, imagine what would happen if he bonded with another living creature.
The cuddly animal will also help lift his spirits after a rough day at school or an argument with his best friend. The joy boost they produce is one of the benefits for children of having a pet at home.
5. They acquire responsibility
Children with an animal at home learn the virtue of responsibility by having to take care of them, feed them, groom them, and pick up their poop. This will help them to mature and will also boost their confidence.
It will also allow them to witness the different stages of life, from birth to death. The passing of a furry companion always represents a hard blow, but they will get over it with time.
6. They learn values
There are many benefits for children of having a pet at home. Children learn several values from animals, such as loyalty, compassion, unconditional love, respect, empathy, etc. In a way, pets will help them become better people and be better able to live in society.
7. They provide security
Pets do not get angry or issue malicious criticisms. Nor do they harbor resentment or stop loving us. Instead, they offer a stable love that makes children feel secure, confident, and at peace.
"Developing positive feelings toward pets can contribute to a child's self-esteem. Positive relationships with companion animals can help build bonds of trust with others, as well as improve nonverbal communication, compassion, and empathy," contributes an article from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.
8. They favor socialization
Socialization is one of the benefits for children of having a pet at home. Those youngsters who have bonded with their pets are better able to develop social skills such as empathy, conversation, and the ability to cultivate friendships.
9. Mitigate aggression
Children who have aggression issues are forced to improve their behavior in order to teach their pets proper behavior. In addition, anxiety and stress levels decrease when they play with their puppy, assuming a happier and more enthusiastic attitude.
Read also: 4 Best Dog Breeds for Kids and Families
Physical and physiological benefits
These are the physical and physiological benefits of having a pet:
10. Fewer illnesses and allergies
Babies exposed to dogs and cats are less likely to suffer from respiratory illnesses than those without pets.
Scientists claim that early exposure to animals strengthens their immune system, which helps them prevent infections and reduces cases of allergic reactions.
11. Helps with weight loss
It has been proven that people with animals at home exercise more. This is due to the time they spend with their pet playing in the yard or running in the park.
By being forced to be more active, they are less likely to be overweight and generally enjoy a healthier lifestyle.
12. They prevent heart disease
According to the British organization Pet Health Council, pets improve the health of their owners by contributing to the reduction of cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood, two risk factors for heart disease.
This is because, in general terms, people with pets are more physically active, eat better and are less prone to smoking.
13. Control of blood sugar levels
This is another of the benefits for children of having a pet at home, thanks to the sport that children do with an animal in the home. By controlling blood sugar levels, kidney disease, eye disease and diabetes are avoided.