Childhood Relationships with Pets


The little ones are addicted to virtual pets. It is the unfortunate by product of living in a city house with not much room for animals. They need space and more importantly, time - imagine a cooped up dog that is alone at home. Being a family that loves animals and knowing the benefits that come from having them around, I allow them their indulgences until such time as we can get a bigger house. However, the more I read about the significant role of pets in young people's emotions and the more I look at the deep bond I’ve had with my pets growing up, the more I realize how important a relationship with them is.

I recently read a Harvard University study about how children with stronger relationships with their pets had a higher level of pro-social behavior. A long-term interaction with pets makes kids more empathetic, more open to sharing and compromising and makes them less self-centered. I immediately identified with this study because of my childhood experiences. “Pets”, they’re more like family and the memories we have had together is something that has nurtured my emotional development.

This study has also gone on to highlight these very important benefits of having these furballs in our lives.

Interpersonal Relationships –


Pets help you connect with other people and make new friends. You can see how a shy child will completely transform when they have a pet as their sidekick (even Batman needed Robin). Having a pet helps you build connections that transcends age, gender, race and cultural background. Apart from them helping you live a happier life on account of them always being there for you, and a healthier life on account of them needing long walks, pets help you with your interpersonal skills in a way that no other medium can.

Emotional Support –

Over a period of 10 years, spanning a 100 families in the UK, Matt Cassels from Cambridge University researched the role of pets in children’s' lives. He said that there hasn't been enough attention given to the role of pets in a child's emotional development and that it's importance has been underestimated. The study went on to show how children who are going through an emotional crisis or a difficult period are more likely to confide in their pets than even their siblings. The fact that the pet is seen as someone who doesn't judge you but just listens helps build a bond like never before. Having a pet best friend also helps you to handle stresses independently and in a way that isn't damaging to you. Kids seem to have a deeper relationship with their pets than their peers and the existence of the pet is therapeutic. The study, he said, showed that it was "valid to talk about child pet relationships in the same way we talk about sibling relationships"

Responsibility –


I am guilty of having used the “Prove to me you can be responsible and you can have a pet” which is standard line among parents worldwide. The fact of the matter is that having a pet makes your kids more compassionate and more responsible. They learn how to care for someone other than themselves (a lesson all humans regardless of age should learn). Through having a pet, you learn how to feed, how to groom, how to walk, how to love. Can any parent ask for more?

What do you think of this study? What have your experiences with pets been? Leave a comment!



I am an assistant teacher and my aim is to curate unique learning tips and techniques customized towards kids.

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