They really are part of the family: Children would rather spend time with their PETS than their siblings

If your kids won’t stop fighting, you might want to consider getting a pet dog.

The Daily Mail reports that this is according to a new study, that found children prefer their pets to their siblings.

They also found that having a dog, compared to other pets, causes the least amount of conflict in a family. The research adds to increasing evidence that says pets may have a major influence on child development, and could have a positive impact on children’s social skills and emotional well-being.

Although we love our brothers and sisters, sibling rivalry and competition for new toys or new clothes can sometimes get in the way.

But pets provide a source of unconditional love when siblings are a nuisance, and kids often get on better their pets to their brothers or sisters, according to the research conducted by pet food manufacturer Mars petcare and Cambridge University.

“Results showed that girls reported more disclosure, companionship, and conflict with their pet than did boys, while dog owners reported greater satisfaction and companionship with their pet than did owners of other pets,” the authors wrote in the study.

The study was conducted in collaboration with the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition in Leicestershire, a research centre owned by Mars Petcare, the company behind dog and cat food brands including Pedigree and Dreamies.

“Anyone who has loved a childhood pet knows that we turn to them for companionship and disclosure, just like relationships between people,” says Cambridge University’s Dr Matthew Cassels, lead researcher in the study. “We wanted to know how strong these relationships are with pets relative to other close family ties.”

In the study, published in the Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, researchers studied 12-year-old kids from 77 families with one or more pets of any type and more than one child living at home. When the kids were asked about their relationship with their pets compared to their siblings, they said they had stronger relationships, and less conflict, with their pets.

The greatest level of satisfaction came from dog owners, compared with any other pets.

“Even though pets may not fully understand or respond verbally, the level of disclosure to pets was no less than to siblings,” Dr Cassels said. ‘The fact that pets cannot understand or talk back may even be a benefit as it means they are completely non-judgmental.

“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. Evidence continues to grow showing that pets have positive benefits on human health and community cohesion,” says Mars Petcare researcher Nancy Gee, co-author of the study. “The social support that adolescents receive from pets may well support psychological well-being later in life but there is still more to learn about the long term impact of pets on children’s development.”

(Story source: Daily Mail – January 2017)


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