A 2003 paper by developmental psychologist Gail F. Melson reported children who had pets were more likely to understand basic biological concepts. Kids who were exposed to animals could make inferences based off their experience. For example, Kindergartners who cared for goldfish were more likely to know if the fish had a heart. Those same children also understood the concept of growth. While they may not know how it worked, they did correctly surmise that a baby frog, much like a baby fish had a life cycle.
- Animals Help Children Learn Empathy
A separate study of more than 500 high school students found teens who had experience with animals scored higher on measurements of emotional connectedness. This group also thought of themselves as civic-minded which meant more of these students took on leadership roles or volunteered in their community.
- Animals May Help Children’s Health
This is perhaps the most surprising piece of information. Research in the journal “Pediatrics” shows that kids who have a pet in the home are healthier than their non-pet peers. Children who had a dog showed lower rates of both ear and respiratory tract infections. The study concludes that kids who are exposed to pets in the first year of life seem to develop a resistance to certain childhood diseases.
Well, is it time to go out and get a pet? Remember, these are just some benefits of owning a pet. They’re also great companions and can be a lively addition to your household.
Photo Credit: Mythic Seabass via Flickr