Study Finds Kids Report More Satisfaction With Pets Over Siblings
When you were a kid did you prefer your pets over siblings? If you answered yes you’re not alone. A recent study from the University of Cambridge found that children reported more satisfaction and less conflicts in their relationships with their pets compared to their siblings.
Research Finds Kids Report More Satisfaction With Pets Over Siblings
The study surveyed 12 year olds from 77 different families who had at least one pet and one sibling in the household. They used the Network of Relationships Inventory (NRI) to evaluate the relationships between the children & their pets. When evaluating the scores the researchers noted a few differences in gender and among those with different kinds of pets.
The results showed that children put a lot of emphasis on how important their relationship with pets are. They reported having a strong relationship with their pets relative to their siblings. And female participants reported more disclosure, companionship & conflict with their pet than their male counterparts. In addition the dog owners reported greater satisfaction & companionship with their pets than owners of other kinds of pets.
“While previous research has often found that boys report stronger relationships with their pets than girls do, we actually found the opposite. While boys and girls were equally satisfied with their pets, girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, perhaps indicating that girls may interact with their pets in more nuanced ways.’’ – Pets Are a Child’s Best Friend, Not Their Siblings
While this study is far from conclusive that all kids prefer their pets over their siblings, it does highlight the importance they place on the relationships they have with their pets.
Previous Research Has Found Benefits of Growing Up With Pets
This new study adds to the mounting evidence that having a pet in the home has a positive influence on childhood development.
Years ago Oregon State University psychologists found that teaching children to care for a puppy enhances social skills. And more recently researchers from the Bassett Medical Center in New York reported that having a dog in the home is associated with a decreased probability of developing childhood anxiety.
Previous studies have also shown that dogs increase empathy in children, reduce the likelihood of developing allergies, can help prevent childhood diabetes, and that dogs reduce stress in families with autistic children.
Cindy Keller says
We grew up with many dogs throughout our childhood. I’m not sure what I would have done without them. Dogs can be so sensitive to human emotions. When our Doberman was to pass on, I remember how it waited for everyone in the house to get home before it found a quiet corner that sad day. I was just a child then and it produced such an effect on us that months later, we went out and got another puppy for my brother who could not come to terms with the loss. It wouldn’t replace Rover of course but having another pet in the house helped us to come to terms with the loss. Children do develop strong ties with their pets and after all I have been through, it hasn’t changed the way we feel now looking back as adults. My brother went on to keep three more dogs and he loves them all! Thank you for the insightful article!