Contact with animals gives children a greater sense of responsibility, enhances empathy and increases their understanding of the cycle of life.
Several studies show how children who live with pets have a more developed emotional intelligence (EI), i.e. the ability of effectively understand, manage, and express one’s feelings and interpreting those of others. This is considered to be a key factor for a better quality of life.
Unlike the intelligence quotient (IQ), which experts consider to be unalterable, the emotional intelligence can progress with time, through practice. Animals can help children do this.
Here are the benefits our four-legged friends can have on our kids.
Children living with pets early learn to take care and feed another creature, initially by observing their parents, storing up all elements they will use in every future interaction with animals. Several studies demonstrate that children who own pets feel more empathy towards other people and animals.
Taking care of animals necessarily entails responsibilities, which give children a sense of personal fulfilment and help them feeling independent and competent. Nienke Endenburg and Ben Baarda, authors of the book The Waltham Book of Human–Animal Interaction, reports an experiment in which children with low self-esteem showed great progresses after they spent 9 months with a pet in their classroom.
3. Cognitive development
Spending time with pets can ease the acquisition of language and improve oral competences in children. They don’t only play with animals, but also talk to them and often read stories in their presence. Moreover, “conversing” with animals helps children fighting stutter.
4. Stress reduction
Animals offer a unique emotional support, and are able to weaken negative feelings. During a research children were asked to tell who they would talk to if they find themselves in a spot, and most of them mentioned their own pets. Effectively, we often feel unconditionally supported by them, whilst other people would judge and criticise certain situations.