Anyone that has ever loved a pet can attest to the fact that they naturally have a knack for calming our frayed nerves and making us feel better. I know just cuddling my feline friend can instantly make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Researchers have been interested in this philosophy and are now conducting studies to see just how strong that furry-friend-to-human bond can be. In fact, specific findings have now shown that a strong bond with a family pet can be particularly beneficial for those children in a military family.
When one or both parents are involved with the military, it can spell a lot anxiety for a child. The uncertainty of the deployment to high-risk situations, along with multiple re-locations of the family unit can all play havoc with a child’s mental and even physical well being.
However, according to a study done by Tufts University, children who loved and had strong ties to the family pet showed less anxiety than those without. Pus, they were more apt to develop the important ability of resiliency, along with other positive developmental traits such as empathy and caring.
The study was conducted using close to 300 students from grade levels six through twelve from those families that were involved in the military.
Around 70% of the children had a strong involvement with their family pet. They interacted with them, fed and walked the pet if applicable. These same children showed stronger signs of caring and confidence, even though they still felt stress by their families being in the military.
This was an exciting find for those involved in the study. Megan Mueller, Ph.D., a developmental psychologist and research assistant professor at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, thinks this could be an important step to helping youngsters build and maintain relationships with their peers during stressful times.
- Children will often take a book and read to their pets. In fact, some schools are even making use of this fact for their reluctant readers with trained therapy pets. Kids are allowed to pick out a book, then read to this furry companion right in the classroom.
- Kids have something to talk about when making new friends or when starting a new school or group.
- Not only will animals reduce a child’s stress, but according to some doctors the presence of multiply animals in the home can actually reduce the child’s chances of developing allergies.
- Family Bonds. Most families wholehearted agree that their beloved pets are indeed part of the family unit.
If you think your child could benefit from a family pet, be responsible and do your homework. There are many different types of pets available, so know what you and your child are capable of handling before you bring a pet into the home. In addition, be sure to only adopt or purchase a pet from a reputable facility or breeder.