“Mom, Dad, can we have a pet too?” – Almost all children have their own animal at the top of their wish lists. And for more than one good reason: Many studies and even more everyday experiences show how positive the effects of dogs, cats, small animals, birds etc. are on children and the whole family.
1: Animals boost self-confidence
“Development workers on four legs” – this is how the research group “Pets in Society” describes the current state of science on the effects of animal husbandry on healthy child development. Animals in everyday family life support the children’s emotional development and strengthen the child’s well-being and self-confidence. Children who have pets feel less lonely, and family pets often give their little friends an extra dose of courage. At the same time, when celebrity pets such as dogs, cats or guinea pigs, the relaxing cuddle hormone oxytocin is released. A valuable counterbalance to the daily routine of kindergarten or school children.
2: Animals encourage mindfulness and communication
Children who grow up with animals learn to be attentive in contact with them. How cute and cute is a little hamster when it pushes something in its cheeks with its paws. And cats purr very comfortably when they enjoy petting, but sometimes they also want to be left alone. It goes without saying that dealing with animals trains the ability to observe as well as the children’s reactions to what is observed. In many everyday situations you learn to be mindful, to show consideration, to interpret different signals, to listen and to behave accordingly – a great basis for good and constructive communication.
3: Animals are the best listeners
We have already noticed that children who have pets feel less lonely. Maybe because animals are wonderful listeners? You can tell them anything. You are just there, perk up your ears attentively or lie there relaxed and do not ask unpleasant questions. More and more dogs are therefore also being used to learn to read and to promote reading, for example in Hamburg, where the reading poodle Benson works. The white, allergy-friendly king poodle is the only four-legged employee in the Bergedorf library, and the children there are allowed to read stories to him. His mistress, librarian Isabelle Jahresig, says: “Especially girls and boys who struggle with reading are always positively encouraged and encouraged by Benson to continue reading.
4: Animals awaken the spirit of research
But it’s not just contact, cuddling and listening that count, children are also fascinated by the impressively diverse world of animals. Non-fiction books with animals are a big hit in kindergarten and elementary school age, girls and boys in this age group are characterized by a special thirst for knowledge and a spirit of research. Pets such as birds, fish (in a beginner’s aquarium) or agate snails can also encourage this at home. How exciting it is to carefully take one of the large snails in your hand, to determine the water quality in an aquarium or to give language lessons to a budgie. No question about it: keeping pets promotes children’s knowledge and understanding of animals and nature.