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Family Pets Can Enhance a Child’s Development

A new study carried out by the University of Liverpool has said that growing up with a pet can bring many benefits (i.e. social, emotional and educational) to children and teenagers! We feel like most pet owners will likely already have an idea of the benefits a pet can bring to a family, but we thought that this was an interesting, and rather nice, study to relay.

Children with family pets tend to have greater self-esteem, less loneliness and enhanced social skills, according to the study. This research further supports various claims over the years that pets can aid in a child’s development.

"Anyone that has grown up with, and loved a family pet intrinsically feels the value of their companionship," says Dr. Carri Westgarth, the project leader. "The scientific evidence investigating the benefits to children and adolescent development looks promising. We dug deep into that evidence to understand which potential benefits were most strongly supported. Ultimately, this will enable us to know more about how pets provide young people with emotional, educational and social support."

The study was published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “Critical ages for the impact of pet ownership on self-esteem, appear to be greatest for children under 6, and preadolescents and adolescents over 10. Generally, dogs and cats are deemed to be the best providers of social support, perhaps due to a higher level of interaction and reciprocation in comparison to other pets" said Rebecca Purewal, lead author. "In both western and non-western cultures, pets may act as a form of psychological support, helping youths feel good about themselves and enabling a positive self-image."

Researchers carried out an in-depth review and quality evaluation of studies investigating the effects of pet ownership on various types of development in children.