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.
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