When it comes to choosing between a little sibling or a dog, most children are going to choose a dog. Why? Because, according to a new study, the relationship between a child and his pet is often stronger than the relationship between a child and his brother or sister.
Some siblings seem to get along from day one. They play together. They cuddle at night. They care about each other. They wear matching outfits willingly and never complain about who gets the green cup.
My two children do not fall into this category. In fact, if you asked my son if he would prefer to play with his sister or our cat that pretty much ignores everyone and sleeps in the dirt all day, he would choose the cat.
As it turns out, he is not alone.
Pets Make the Best Playmates
A new study from the University of Cambridge has concluded that children actually “get more satisfaction from relationships with their pets than with their brothers or sisters.”
While all pets are good for the well-being of children, the study focused mostly on dogs, which is the most common pet in Australia. 63 per cent of households in Australia have a pet. 19 in 100 families have a dog while 15 out of 100 families have a cat.
Many families, like mine, have both a dog and a cat. And many children, like mine, prefer to play with either the cat or the dog (or even the fish) over their siblings.
”Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people,” says Matt Cassells, who led the study.
Children get on better with animal companions than with siblings.
”Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” says Cassels.
The study, which looked at 77 different families with pets, concluded that pets aren’t only the preferred playmate, but that they have a major influence on a child’s development.
Pets can help children increase both their social skills and their overall emotional well-being and homes with pets reported lower levels of conflict.
“The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgemental.”
If you ever needed an excuse to add an animal to the household, this study certainly gives you a bit of leeway!
Have a look at some of these adorable pictures of little ones and their big dogs for even more proof that pets are part of the family.